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Peninsula District previewsWHEN: 7 p.m. Friday
By Dave Johnson
BETHEL (1-0, 0-0) VS. PHOEBUS (1-0, 0-0)
WHERE: Darling Stadium; Hampton.
THE BRUINS’ OFFENSE: OK, Granby didn’t offer the most challenging of tests, but Bethel had to be encouraged by scoring 34 points, its most since the 2004 season. The Bruins also threw for a touchdown (two, actually) for the first time since the next-to-last game of the ’05 season.
THE BRUINS’ DEFENSE: Bethel held Granby to no points and 129 total yards while forcing four turnovers — a pretty strong effort. The Bruins gave up only a couple of touchdowns to Phoebus in last season’s 13-6 loss. The secondary could get tested by QB Tajh Boyd.
THE BRUINS’ STORYLINE: Last week’s shutout of Granby was a positive start to the Jeff Nelson Era, even if it did come against a team that figures to finish below .500 this season. Tonight will bring a far tougher challenge, so Nelson hopes that old adage — you do your most improving from Week One to Week Two — is true.
THE PHANTOMS’ OFFENSE: Going up against a huge defensive front last week, Phoebus torched Maury for 324 yards and 46 points. Menchville transfer Shawn Alston rushed for 109 yards and two touchdowns in his debut as a Phantom. Boyd is a poised presence in the pocket.
THE PHANTOMS’ DEFENSE: Phoebus gave up three touchdowns to the Commodores, but one was a fluke near the end of the first half and two came with mostly second-teamers in the game. DT Dominik Davenport and LB Darius McMillan each had two quarterback sacks. CB Reid Evans picked off his sixth pass in his last five games.
THE PHANTOMS’ STORYLINE: Last week’s demolition of Maury firmly established Phoebus as the team to beat in the Peninsula District — and in Division 5, for that matter. The Phantoms looked awfully good on both sides of the ball against the favorite in the Eastern District. But Bethel is no pushover.
YOURS: Phoebus (76.9% on HRVarsity.com)
Denbigh (0-1) at Lake Taylor (1-0)WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday
WHERE: Lake Taylor High; Norfolk.
THE OFFENSES: Denbigh struggled to get anything going against Woodside last week, but QB Jazz Holiday threw for two touchdowns and RB Jodey McNeill ran for 113 yards. The Titans are led by RB Jeremie Simmons, who had 170 all-purpose yards in last week’s 21-7 win over Indian River.
THE DEFENSES: The Patriots gave up 327 rushing yards to Woodside last week, an obvious concern for coach Tracy Harrod going against Simmons this week. Lake Taylor offers a more balanced attack. The Titans held Indian River to a minus-9 rushing yards in last week’s win.
THE STORYLINES: After finishing 7-3 and just missing the playoffs last season, last week’s loss was a huge disappointment to the Patriots. But there were some encouraging signs, like the play of Holiday and McNeill on offense. Lake Taylor, a playoff team in five of the last seven years, is a big-time test. Can Holiday and McNeill get some help on offense? Can the defense stop the run? Denbigh will need those questions and more answered for the upset to happen.
YOURS: Lake Taylor (92.3% on HRVarsity.com)
OURS: Lake Taylor
Gloucester (0-1) at Norview (0-1)WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday
WHERE: Norview High; Norfolk.
THE OFFENSES: Even though they were shut out by Hampton last week, the Dukes looked a little better than last year when they averaged 6 ppg. RB/WR Ray Harris is a tough guy to catch. Pilots TB Marquez Fields was the Eastern District’s top rusher last season.
THE DEFENSES: The Dukes have made significant improvements, which became evident as they held Hampton to 14 points. Harris was outstanding from his LB spot. Norview gave up 155 rushing yards a game last season, so it’ll be interesting to see if Gloucester tries to pound it.
THE STORYLINES: The Pilots won last year’s game at Gloucester 24-11, but the Dukes would like to think they’re a different team now. Pushing Hampton to the brink last week had to give Gloucester some much-needed confidence. And let’s face it, Norview isn’t Hampton. Dukes QB Tommy Reamon Jr. had little time to throw last week, and his line will have to reverse that if Gloucester is to have a chance.
YOURS: Gloucester (79% HRVarsity.com)
Kecoughtan (0-1) at Churchland (0-1)WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday
WHERE: Strickland Stadium; Churchland.
THE OFFENSES: The Warriors had 232 rushing yards against Warwick last week, but five turnovers did them in. Isaiah Sheppard rushed for 122 yards, and QB Anthony Dorsey added 67. The Truckers were held to a minus-27 yards rushing in last week’s 21-7 loss to Western Branch.
THE DEFENSES: Kecoughtan didn’t give up much to Warwick, which scored one touchdown on a punt return and had a field goal set up by an interception. LB Derek Mayo has a non-stop engine. Churchland gave up 275 rushing yards but only three touchdowns to the Bruins.
THE STORYLINES: The Warriors feel they should be 1-0 right now, and if not for some costly turnovers they might be. Four extra playoff spots are open in the Eastern Region this season, and another loss would damage — if not outright end — Kecoughtan’s hopes. With games coming up against Gloucester and Menchville, this would be a good time for the Warriors to make their move.
YOURS: Kecoughtan (83% HRVarsity.com)
Warwick (1-0) at Booker T. Washington (0-1)WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday
WHERE: Booker T. Washington High; Norfolk.
THE OFFENSES: The Raiders jumped on Kecoughtan early last week, but coach Stan Sexton was bothered by an offense that averaged 3.4 yards per rushing attempts and turned the ball over on its first two drives of the second half. The Bookers have some nice athletes at the skilled positions.
THE DEFENSES: Warwick forced five turnovers last week, which is the main reason it won. But the Raiders also gave up 232 rushing yards and had a few too many missed tackles. Booker T. had a nightmarish opening week in giving up 285 passing yards and 42 points to Oscar Smith.
THE STORYLINES: Considered a strong Division 5 playoff contender, Warwick doesn’t need a letdown against a team it should clearly dominate. Warwick used four different tailbacks last week, and Sexton hopes at least one of them can emerge as a consistent running threat. Booker T. would like to use this game as a springboard to what it hopes will be its first winning season since 2003.
YOURS: Warwick (77% HRVarsity.com)
Maury (0-1) at Woodside (1-0)WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday
WHERE: Todd Stadium; Hampton.
THE OFFENSES: The Commodores had some overhaul at the skilled positions, and they struggled last week against Phoebus. Quarterback Lorenzo Branche completed 7-of-15 passes for 174 yards, but Maury rushed for only 35 yards. Woodside’s Josue Camsmith ran for 151 yards and two TDs vs. Denbigh.
THE DEFENSES: Maury is huge, particularly up front, but was dominated by the Phantoms. They will be tested by a Wing-T offense that uses a lot of motion and deception. The Wolverines gave up 231 yards to Denbigh but forced three turnovers. Woodside also has good size in the trenches.
THE STORYLINES: An interesting start of the schedule for Maury, which comes across the bridge for a second time to play a Peninsula District team. The Commodores were never in it last week against the Phantoms, but this is another week. A win would give Woodside a huge boost going into next week’s game against Phoebus. And for a team that hopes to make the playoffs after last year’s near-miss, a win tonight wouldn’t hurt.
YOURS: Woodside (63% HRVarsity.com)
Granby (0-1) at Hampton (1-0)WHEN: Noon Saturday
WHERE: Darling Stadium; Hampton.
THE OFFENSES: The Comets were blanked last week against Bethel, and in this game will go against maybe the best defense in the Eastern Region. Granby scored more than 16 points only twice last season. Hampton got a 195-yard night from Tron Martinez in last week’s 14-0 win over Gloucester but was hardly sharp.
THE DEFENSES: The Comets gave up 34 points to Bethel, which hadn’t scored that many points since late in the 2004 season. Now, they are going against a fast offense that might just have a chip on its shoulder from last week. Hampton has shut out six of its last 12 opponents going back to last season.
THE STORYLINES: After years of dominating teams from across the water, Hampton has lost its last two games against the Southside — Indian River to start the 2006 season, and Maury to end it. But if you’re Granby coach Dave Hudak, this is a danger game. Hampton has spent all week hearing how they barely beat a team that finished 1-9 last season, and coach Mike Smith probably got their attention in practice.
YOURS: Hampton (95% HRVarsity.com)
Menchville (0-1) at Wilson (0-1)WHEN: Noon Saturday.
WHERE: Wilson High School; Norfolk.
THE OFFENSES: The Monarchs’ switch to the Flexbone didn’t get off to a smooth beginning as they could manage only six first downs and six points. And — this was killer — six turnovers. Another week of practice can only help. The Presidents scored only 23 points last year.
THE DEFENSES: Menchville got better as the 2006 season went on, but last week’s opener wasn’t a good sign. The Monarchs gave up 283 rushing yards in their first game in the 3-5 set. The Presidents have a bunch of holes that were exposed last week by a mediocre Norcom team.
THE STORYLINES: When these teams played a year ago, Menchville came in with a 21-game losing streak. The Monarchs won that game 25-6 and added a victory in their season finale. This time, Wilson comes in with a 21-game losing streak and hopes of getting that ever-elusive win. This is a rare winnable game for both teams, and neither wants to drop to 0-2 as they begin the meat of their conference schedule.
YOURS: Menchville (64% HRVarsity.com)
Norcom (1-0) at Heritage (1-0)WHEN: 2 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Todd Stadium
THE OFFENSES: The Greyhounds used a balanced attack in last week’s 20-0 win over Wilson — 126 yards rushing, 133 yards passing. QB Deandre Lamb hit on 10-of-17 passes for two touchdowns. Heritage TB Richard Anthony rushed for 176 and accounted for three TDs — one rushing, one passing, and one kickoff return.
THE DEFENSES: Norcom posted a shutout in its opener, but doesn’t everybody against Wilson? Still, it was an encouraging sign. Heritage limited Menchville to six first downs and forced six turnovers in last week’s win. A question mark: Will LB Lawrence Turner (sprained ankle) play?
THE STORYLINES: Heritage looks to be a solid upper-division team in the Peninsula District and might even make a play for third place. Norcom, which hasn’t had a winning season since 2002, is hoping to build on last week’s momentum and return to respectability. The Hurricanes should cruise, but it’ll be a lot tougher if Turner’s sprained ankle keeps him on the sideline.
YOURS: Heritage (63.6% HRVarsity.com)
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