Thomas Dale 49, Hopewell 42
Football can be a game of attrition, perhaps more than any other sport. Perseverance is needed too. Once again, Thomas Dale High’s football team persevered through a tough contest and defeated Hopewell 49-42 in double overtime.
“I’m proud of these boys for having a never-die attitude,” Thomas Dale coach Kevin Tucker said. “Having to play these close games against quality teams like Hopewell, Dinwiddie and Petersburg will help us in the playoffs.”
Injuries have been a key point for Thomas Dale this season, and this game was no different as another quarterback went down. This time it was junior Courtenay Burrell, who broke his collarbone. Luckily, Tucker and his staff have been practicing a wildcat formation of sorts run by D’Angelo Gray, who gets carries behind star back Chris Tyree and has become a star in his own right.
It was Gray who became Thomas Dale’s fifth quarterback in eight games. Gray came up with a big play that allowed the Knights to force a second overtime. Tucker said Gray suggested to coaches that he run a waggle, a play where he would plan to pass the ball, but that also leaves opportunity for the quarterback to run if needed. When his intended receiver wasn’t open, Gray ran into the end zone for the score.
In the second overtime, it was Gray again scoring on the same play to give the Knights the lead. Then the defense made a huge stand to seal the deal.
Gray had 86 rushing yards, three touchdowns and three receptions for 30 yards before he became the quarterback.
Tyree totaled over 200 all-purpose yards yet again, including 125 rushing and 72 yards receiving.
“Tyree has put this team on his shoulders,” Tucker said. “Especially with our quarterback situation and the injuries all over, he’s taken the bulk of our carries and touches on offense.”
Tyree sports over 25 college offers, from schools including Florida, Florida State and Virginia Tech, and with plenty of speed to burn, he’s been dominant when he’s needed to be.
Thomas Dale hasn’t had a season riddled with as many injuries since 2013, when five starters were lost due to torn anterior cruciate ligaments. This year, JMU commit and defensive end Rick D’Abreu and key offensive lineman Zack Jones have been lost for the season, and players such as quarterback Ejay Walker have missed multiple games. This has caused Tucker and his staff to look deeper into their depth charts than ever before.
“We have routinely been pulling up kids from JV to practice with varsity just to see what they can do,” Tucker said. “The kids have really bought into the ‘next man up’ mentality. Instead of pouting about the fact that they aren’t the starter, they have taken to heart being ready to play, because in just one play you can become the starter.”
For example, Greg Mitchell was recently pulled up to varsity because the starter, Harjit Kahlon, was injured. Then Mitchell was injured, so Tucker had to move guard Berk Snow to center and pull a defensive lineman, Bryce Carter, over to play offensive tackle. When defensive lineman Connor Adams went down with an injury, Tucker moved linebacker Brian Davis into that position, where he made two quarterback sacks. That opened up an opportunity for Judah Jones at linebacker, who made some great open-field tackles on Hopewell’s athletes.
Perhaps the biggest story on defense for the Knights has been linebacker Jimmy Hayden, who recorded 11 tackles, including five solo tackles, essentially making multiple touchdown-saving tackles. Hayden was previously a back-up quarterback.
“That kid [Hayden] has really come a long way,” Tucker said. “Being able to make that transition between those positions has been huge.”
Thomas Dale (6-2) will take their never-say-die attitude away to Granby High of Norfolk on Friday. The Bulldogs have struggled to a 0-8 record.
Monacan 19, L.C. Bird 14
A week after falling to Manchester, the L.C. Bird Skyhawks lost their second straight game at the hands of a tough Monacan team, 19-14.
Chiefs quarterback Stone Snyder had a big game. He accumulated 270 yards of total offense and kept the ball moving.
Quarterback Jayden Payoute gained 125 all-purpose yards and passed for two touchdowns, but L.C. Bird didn’t have enough answers for the Chiefs’ defense.
L.C. Bird (6-2) is home Friday at 7 p.m. against George Wythe (0-8).
Matoaca 48, Meadowbrook 7
The Matoaca High Warriors won their second straight contest by steamrolling the Meadowbrook Monarchs, 48-7.
Coach Jay Parker and his team earned their first win and got good performances from several individuals in all three phases of the game – offense, defense and special teams.
“I’m happy with how our guys executed the game plan offensively,” Parker said. “After the first drive, our defensive guys really stepped up and played well. Special teams controlled the field position game tremendously.”
Quarterback Marcus Dreher had perhaps his best performance of the season. He was nearly perfect, completing six of seven passes for 141 yards and a touchdown. He added 86 rushing yards and three touchdowns on the ground.
Aaron Jones finished with 43 yards and two touchdowns, while Jordan Robinson caught four passes for 111 yards and a touchdown.
Matoaca will play Prince George on Friday.