Notebook: Hopewell Fields Two-Quarterback Attack
By JACOB VAUGHAN, Sports Editor
Nov 1, 2012, 13:03
The Hopewell High School football team huddles during last Friday’s Central District game against Petersburg. Led by quarterbacks Reggie Butler and Octavious Taylor, Hopewell will play host to Dinwiddie in a game brimming with Group AAA Division 5 playoff implications on Friday at Merner Field (photo by Jacob Vaughan).
HOPEWELL – On the Hopewell High School football team, accomplishments on and off the field are recognized each week with gold helmet stickers. The most decorated Blue Devils players would be hard-pressed to squeeze one more star-shaped sticker on their once-blue headwear.
Quarterback Reggie Butler has none, but that’s not to say that he hasn’t earned any.
The senior racked up a team-high 11 stars last week – the next-highest total was four – but, rather than collect them, the 5-9, 182-pound two-way player offers them up for junior varsity call-ups and less-experienced players to claim.
“He’s just a remarkable kid,” said Hopewell coach Ricky Irby. “And he’s willing to do whatever it takes for the team. He doesn’t say much, but when he does it means something.”
The soft-spoken Butler has certainly had his say in the Blue Devils’ last two games.
After beginning the season as a wide receiver, Butler found out that he would be starting under center not long before the opening kickoff of a Week 7 clash with Matoaca.
Undaunted, he went on to rack up 202 rushing yards and accounted for three touchdowns as the visiting Blue Devils prevailed 38-21. Butler proved the showing was no fluke on Friday against Petersburg. He passed for four touchdowns and ran for another, spurring Hopewell to a 36-14 win over its Tri-Cities rival.
The senior’s new-found aerial prowess stoked an already explosive offense. Hopewell senior Octavious Taylor, who started the first six games at quarterback, also took some snaps against the Crimson Wave.
“They compliment each other very well,” Irby said. “Octavious is a great runner and Reggie is more of a calming influence back there.”
However, Taylor’s most meaningful contribution came when he hauled in the first touchdown reception of his career in the third quarter. Taylor said Butler’s new role has made the offense more multi-faceted.
“He’s really stepping up a lot,” Taylor said. “I knew he had it in him. It really helps me out a lot because it takes a lot of focus off me. We have a lot of potential on this team.”
Butler and Taylor have combined to produce 23 offensive touchdowns (11 passing, nine rushing and three receiving). Taylor also has scored on a blocked field goal while Butler has four interceptions as a defensive back.
DIVISION 5 SHOWDOWN
Boasting winning streaks of four and three games respectively, Central District schools Hopewell and Dinwiddie have been bound for one another on a collision course since early October.
The second-ranked Blue Devils and third-ranked Generals finally will meet at Merner Field in Hopewell on Friday in a game laced with Group AAA Division 5 playoff implications.
The winner of the penultimate regular season outing will be well-positioned to claim a playoff berth, possibly home-field advantage.
Hopewell is one of two 6-2 Division 5 teams in the Central Region. Dinwiddie – which has only lost to Division 6 powerhouses Varina, Highland Springs and Meadowbrook – is hot on the Blue Devils’ heels with a 5-3 overall mark.
Recent history favors Dinwiddie. The Generals have won the last six games by a cumulative score of 221-77. Hopewell’s last victory in the fixture came in 2005 by a score of 32-7.
“They’re a very good football program,” Irby said. “That’s where we’re trying to get to, but in order to do that we have to beat them. We haven’t overlooked anybody obviously, but we knew when this one was coming up.”
Both teams will close their district campaigns on Nov. 9 against sub-.500 opponents – Hopewell at Prince George (3-5) and Dinwiddie at home against Petersburg (3-6).
TERENCE THE TERROR
His teammates call him “Bull.”
Hopewell senior linebacker Terence Terry has more than lived up to the nickname. Through eight games this year, Terry has amassed 67 tackles (33 solo, 34 assisted) – 13 for loss – and two sacks.
The 5-6, 180-pounder’s trademark tenacity was on full display against Petersburg. Terry racked up four tackles for loss in the victory, one of which put an abrupt end to a matriculating Crimson Wave drive in the fourth quarter.
Petersburg coach Joshua Wallace cited that play as a critical juncture of the game.
“We kind of had some momentum going,” Wallace said. “And [Terry] did a good job. He’s a smaller guy, but he plays big. He did a good job coming through on us all night long.”
Cedric Porter leads the Blue Devils with 72.5 tackles so far this season. Tyler Smith registered three of his team-high six sacks against Petersburg.
Petersburg was without several key players in last Friday’s tilt with Hopewell, according to Wallace. The first-year coach said an undisclosed number of student-athletes were sidelined because of disciplinary issues.
Wallace said strict enforcement of team rules is “part of building a program,” adding that the Crimson Wave players who did suit up gave a good account of themselves.
“There were some guys that we could’ve used tonight,” Wallace said after the game. “But we’re a team, and a football team should be able to play without guys. We did a good job of fighting, we just let a couple plays get by us and that was the turning point for the game.”
WEEK 9 GAMES
Dinwiddie at Hopewell
Thomas Dale at L.C. Bird
Prince George at Matoaca
Colonial Heights at Meadowbrook
Prince George senior Bailey Williams (9) carries the ball against Colonial Heights last Friday. Both teams play on the road on Friday, Prince George against Matoaca and Colonial Heights against top-seeded Meadowbrook (photo by David Breidenbach).