Hopewell Football Team Crushes James Monroe in State Semi-Final
By DANIEL PARKER
Dec 6, 2017, 14:23
The Hopewell Football Team finally struck down the monkey that’s hung onto their back for 14 years; they are going to the State Championship.
The Blue Devils haven’t been in the State Championships since 2003 after two years of being stopped in the semi-finals, but this year they broke through. On Saturday at Merner Field the Blue Devils never let up against the James Monroe Yellow Jackets, ending their final game on Merner Field with a victory toppling the Yellow Jackets 48 to 14.
“I just told our guys, let’s focus on what we do, and we played every play to win…” said Blue Devils Coach Ricky Irby. “Whatever the case was we wanted to make sure that we left nothing out on the field. We made it to this point two years in a row, and we didn’t want to fall short again for a third time.”
The game began with a bang and with most wins from the Blue Devils coming down to their running game. James Monroe started off with the ball but couldn’t keep it, when Trezon Williams broke the Yellows Jackets box and sacked the quarterback for a loss of yards. From there it was the Blue Devils rushing. Blue Devils Ronnie Walker cut through the left flank finally stopped midfield at the 41 yard line.
Hopewell Quarterback Gregory Cuffey threw to Reizon Murphy down to the 5 yard line, and Ronnie Walker delivered the finishing blow of the first drive. Dragged to the ground by Yellow Jackets Charlie Frye, Walker reached out and put the ball right into the end zone for a touchdown.
“We came out hard ... we smacked them in the mouth … We didn’t give up,” Walker said. “My sophomore year, we played them, and we were down 17 to 0, but James Monroe came out flat in the 2nd and we came out with the win.”
And with that notion of not turning off the fire, Hopewell continued to cement a heavy lead. Yellow Jackets were back with the ball but were promptly stopped. Murphy squashed the Yellow Jackets throwing game deflecting a pass to Zakk Davis.
The Blue Devils were back in possession. Hopewell’s Robert Briggs cut through the right side, finding the hole in the box and hitting the 39 yard line for a 1st down.
Walker broke the center, dodging the swarm of Yellow Jackets getting to the 19 yard line. And again he dove into the side of the end zone: 14 to 0.
Following another quick possession, Blue Devils Sean Allen rushed to the right to the 17 yard line, and Cuffey broke through rushing into the end zone for the third touchdown.
“I have to give it to the offensive line,” said Walker. “They opened up the hole so well. I could fit my coach Brian Moore through there.”
The Yellow Jackets looking to sting the Blue Devils were pushing their way up at the 35 yard line. When Blue Devils Zyreon Jones-Walker tipped the pass, it flew up straight into the hands of TreVeyon Henderson, who drove down to the 11 yard line and led Hopewell with two interceptions. The success of the defense came to the message drilled in by the Coaches: Rally to the ball, commented Jones-Walker.
In the rubble of a powerful first half: Hopewell commanded with a 34 to 7 lead. With two minutes left in the third quarter, the Yellow Jackets threw to Chris Reaves-Williams, but Jones-Walker got the interception. Something that he had executed throughout the season in practice but never in a game. Jones-Walker bulldozed down the field for the final Hopewell touchdown putting them up 48 to 7.
“We always kid Zyreon, because he makes so many interceptions in practice…” said Coach Irby. “But he hasn’t gotten one in a game yet for him to get one in a game that’s really special.”
Both Jones-Walker and Dre Thomas have both grown into their roles as inside linebackers for the Blue Devils through their hard work, said Irby.
As for Hopewell to pummel their way down for the State Championship title after a rocky start to Norcom, Walker credits the turnaround to the work ethic of the team.
“We worked harder, and we knew the things that we did wrong,” said Walker. “But we didn’t look at the bad stuff. We kept pushing forward.”
Hopewell’s final game of the season will be played at Zable Stadium at William and Mary College on Saturday at noon against Heritage High School. Following their win, the Blue Devils Coach said that even though it felt great to finally enter the State Championship, it wasn’t time for the Blue Devils to settle.
I just told the guys, I don’t want them to be satisfied with this,” said the Coach. “You have one game left to be great, and a chance to go out and play for the State Championship. Not a lot of teams can say they have the opportunity to do that.”