Three Hopewell graduates will play at Ferrum
By JACOB VAUGHAN, Sports Editor
Jun 19, 2013, 12:30
Hopewell center Tony Chambers (77) and guard Jacob Roark (70) join forces to block a Dinwiddie pass rusher during a Central Region Division 5 playoff game on Nov. 16 (photo by David Breidenbach).
HOPEWELL – Three recent graduates of Hopewell High School are preparing to join the growing contingency of former Blue Devils on the Ferrum College football team.
Offensive linemen Tony Chambers and Jacob Roark and linebacker Terence Terry will reunite with 2012 Hopewell graduates Dashon Bowen, Darius Priest and Reggie Jackson at the NCAA Division III school in Southwest Virginia.
Chambers, Roark and Terry are three of at least nine Hopewell seniors bound for college football programs in the fall. All three were multi-sport athletes and four-year varsity football players who chose the Panthers from multiple college suitors.
“Watching them grow, mature and turn into fine young men has been very rewarding,” said Hopewell coach Ricky Irby.
In their own ways, the soon-to-be college freshmen were microcosms of their high school team, which exceeded expectations by reaching the Central Region Division 5 championship game in November.
Irby pointed to Chambers as an example of Hopewell’s top-to-bottom athleticism. The fourth-year coach said Terry had “probably the biggest heart” on a blue-collar team. And Roark, Irby said, scored one of Hopewell’s most unlikely touchdowns of the season, channeling the identity of a group that specialized in the improbable.
CENTER OF ATTENTION
Chambers – a 6-foot-3, 270-pound center – was one of Hopewell’s most physically imposing offensive starters last season. In addition to his stature, Irby insists the two-sport athlete possesses deceptive quickness and agility.
“Tony is an unbelievable athlete for a guy his size,” Irby said. “He has great feet and good hands, and I’ve had him in weight training class for what seems like five years now. Anything we did in class, he was always one of the better athletes.”
Chambers, Terry and Roark have been playing with or against each other since elementary school, and Chambers said he thinks that familiarity will help ease the trio’s transition to the college ranks.
“I’m really excited,” said Chambers, who played first base and pitched on Hopewell’s baseball team during the spring. “I think playing together is going to help us out. I wouldn’t want to play anywhere else with anybody else.”
The Blue Devils benefitted from a slew of talented skill players in 2012, and Chambers said he and his fellow linemen were content to ply their trade in relative obscurity.
But Brian Moore, Hopewell’s offensive line coach, was quick to praise the contributions Chambers and Roark made to the team that finished 8-4 and won its first playoff game since 2004.
“They’re just all around good kids,” Moore said. “They’re upbeat – nothing really makes them upset – but they both kind of play with an edge. That’s what I like to get out of our kids. You have to be a little nasty to play on the offensive line.”
Like Chambers, Roark – who owns 12 varsity letters in football, track and field and wrestling – describes himself as a lifelong lineman happy to make contributions that rarely show up in a box score.
“I enjoy not being in the spotlight 100 percent of the time,” Roark said. “That’s not really me. I like being an offensive lineman, doing my part and letting the skill players be the skill players.”
But the 6-foot-1, 285-pound right guard graced the limelight for at least one play in Hopewell’s regular season finale against Prince George on Feb. 22.
Facing first and goal from the four-yard line, Roark lined up at fullback, took a misdirection handoff and scampered into the end zone. The touchdown trot, which came on his second carry of the season, was the first of Roark’s playing career.
“I took a little stutter step and went straight forward,” Roark said. “Ray [Paden] kicked out the end, and it was just an easy touchdown.”
Roark made the decision to attend Ferrum with similar ease. He said the small private school felt more like home than any of the other Division III schools he visited.
“When I went there, it just felt different than every place else,” Roark said. “Some of the other schools had beautiful campuses, but when I went to Ferrum it just felt right for me.”
In terms of schematics, Roark said the Panthers’ run-heavy offense suits his skill set. Irby agreed with that assessment.
“I think that’s Jacob’s strong point,” Irby said. “He’s a great down blocker and run blocker. If he has a weakness, I would say it’s his pass blocking. So I definitely think his style fits Ferrum very well, and Tony’s too. Tony and Jacob are very similar.”
Hopewell senior Terence Terry (44) prepares to tackle Dinwiddie junior Rashad Goodwyn (25) during a Central Region Division 5 playoff game on Nov. 16 (photo by David Breidenbach).
Teammates and coaches call Terry ‘Bull,’ and for good reason.
Terry, who also starred for the Hopewell wrestling team, started at middle linebacker and led the Blue Devils with 104.5 tackles last season. For good measure, the 5-foot-6 First-Team All-Central District selection tacked on four sacks and two fumble recoveries.
“He has a never-give-up attitude,” Irby said. “He was probably the smallest guy out there pretty much every game, but he ended up being our team leader in tackles. He was a thorn in the side of basically everybody we played.”
The nickname, Terry said, has deep-seeded roots.
“I got it when I was eight years old and playing in the Hopewell Quarterback League,” he said. “I used to run the ball hard and tackle hard, so people started calling me ‘Bull.’ It just stuck with me.”
Terry has a similar knack for sticking with ball carriers. He hopes to play his high school position at the college level even though his frame does not fit the mold of a prototypical college linebacker.
“I just love being a linebacker,” he said. “I try to be a leader, motivate people and encourage them to get better.”
Irby likes Terry’s chances.
“He’ll find the football field and be successful,” Irby said. “Because he’ll work hard and do everything the coaches ask him to do.”
THE NEXT STEP
As training camp approaches, Ferrum will be looking to improve upon a season that saw the Panthers claim a partial share of the USA South Athletic Conference title. Ferrum finished the 2012 campaign with an overall record of 7-3 and a conference mark of 5-2.
Fresh off the first and only winning season of their high school careers, Chambers, Roark and Terry all hope to see the playing field as true freshmen.
But even as they shift their collective gaze to the collegiate level, all three said they feel fortunate to have been a part of such a prolific graduating class at Hopewell.
“It’s a good feeling to know that there are so many people that I grew up with who get to play at the next level with me,” Terry said. “I can’t complain about that.”