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Staunton River showed up for its game at Cave Spring with run on the brain. Unfortunately for the Eagles, Cave Spring had experienced a quick metamorphosis, emerging as a pass-happy team.
As a result, Staunton River suffered a 28-6 loss to the Knights, dropping the team to 0-2 overall (0-1 in the Seminole District).
The Knights put up two quick touchdowns on the Eagles, as quarterback Josh Woodrum aired it out early and often during the first two Cave Spring possessions.
Staunton River, having seen Cave Spring in scrimmages and in its opener, fixed nine men in the box, anticipating the Knights would continue to be almost exclusively a running team.
Alas, the Knights showed themselves to be adroit in the passing department: Woodrum went 9-for-10 for 218 yards.
While the air game set up the scores, the glory work went to halfback Micheal Cole, who pounded it in from the five and fullback Corey Reese, who scored from the two-yard line.
“We expected them to run and they came out throwing,” rued Eagle Head Coach Rick Witt.
The coach wasn’t the only one who expected to see the Knights set up in the double-wing (with tight line formation) to pound the ball. Last week, even when Cave Spring was down by two touchdowns against Alleghany, the Knights ran it. Woodrum only completed 4 passes in that contest, won by Cave Spring 28-20.
This was a different week, however. Once Staunton River adjusted its defense to account for the newly pass-crazy Knights, Cave Spring went back to its ground game.
Success with that running game set up the final two touchdowns by Cave Spring. In the second quarter, Woodrum hit Daniel Maloney on a seam route for a 23 yard score.
In the fourth quarter, receiver Erik Jacobsen ran a nearly identical route as Maloney for a 31 yard strike.
Staunton River avoided the shutout when Wesley Gates came up with a big fourth quarter play. Gates, a junior transfer from Liberty, caught a one-step pass from quarterback Cody Jones before dashing 73 yards to the end zone, shedding five would-be tacklers along the way.
Gates also contributed a 23 yard punt return and a 36 yard kickoff return. Coupled with his fine return work against Forest, Gates has to be considered a threat every time he handles the ball.
Quarterback Jones, who was pressured all night by a fierce Knight rush, went 2-for-9 in the passing department. “We’re just not that big up front and that hurts, particularly in the fourth quarter,” said Witt of his offensive line.
Jones’s other completion went to Meech Coles for five yards.
Coles was the most proficient rusher for the Eagles, picking up 97 yards on 16 carries. As a team, Staunton River rushed for 133 yards on 35 carries.
There were a few other bright spots for Staunton River. Bobby Hobbs went 63 yards on two kickoff returns.
Inside linebacker Scott Fike had 10 solo tackles and 2 assists. David Powers, playing a hybrid linebacker-safety position, made 8 tackles.
Sophomore Mike Karnes made a fumble recovery late in the game. “He tends to be in the right place at the right time,” noted Witt.
For the second straight week, the Golden Eagles did not have a single turnover. The team was only flagged twice in the contest: Both of the infractions were for off-sides.
“We had high hopes (for a win),” said Witt. “We just have to realize we’re young.”
Asked if his team reminded him of the William Byrd team three years ago, Witt said that it did. That William Byrd team was loaded with sophomores and took its lumps. It stuck it out, however, and by two years later, the team went 9-1.
Witt knows that such a development doesn’t happen by just sticking around. It takes a lot of dedication and work in the weight room.
In the meantime, the Eagles have their work cut out for them. This Friday, that same Byrd team comes a calling at Eagle Stadium.