Hopewell Falls In Home Debut
By Ryan Lazo
Sep 16, 2013, 08:16
Ryan Lazo/Hopewell News/News-Patriot
HOPEWELL — The Blue Devils seemed to be following the script written before the game perfectly. Everything was going as it was planned, starting with the quarterback.
Tabyus Taylor’s return to the Blue Devils’ starting lineup immediately energized a stale offense as they jumped out to a 17-0 lead at the 9:13 mark of the second quarter.
But then the script completely flipped. Mistakes became common-place and with each first down surrendered, the Indians’ team believed.
Meanwhile, on the opposite sideline, the Blue Devils’ players’ heads faced downward with shoulders slumped as they saw their commanding lead wither away. And by the end of Powhatan’s 30-7 run, the Blue Devils had fallen to 0-2, letting a game slip from their grasps.
“Young and inexperienced team,” Hopewell head coach Ricky Irby said after the 30-24 loss. “I thought our kids came out fast, were excited to play and then lost the momentum.”
And it was such a surprising turn of events for a Blue Devils’ team that seemed to be in cruise control in Taylor’s season-debut.
Taylor took to the field as a quarterback, not wide-receiver as he played for much of last season, and it immediately paid dividends for Irby. The senior created plays from the pocket with his legs, rushing for 81 yards in the first quarter alone, before throwing a 67-yard bomb to Jarvezz Brown in the second quarter.
But it wasn’t just the stats which impressed those in attendance at Merner Field, it was how easy everything came for No. 5. His vision allowed him to side-step would-be tacklers with ease. His speed was second-to-none.
And his arm allowed him to fit throws into some tight windows.
“They were in awe,” Powhatan (2-0) head coach James Woodson said of his players early in the game. “We watched No. 5 when he made that run down there, my goodness, he’s good. You were in a little bit of shock and feel like you couldn’t do anything about it.”
However, Woodson and his team were able to change the tide.
They became more physical and it started on offense behind the running of junior Logan Allen.
The 6-foot-2 behemoth of a player lined up in the I-formation and pounded his way through open holes time and time again.
The Blue Devils’ had no way of stopping him and it was a deft strategy change
by Woodon which allowed his team to have success on the ground.
“No. 5 is a tremendous offensive player, but I’m telling you he could have hurt us more on defense,” Woodson explained. “We couldn’t go at him. Every time, we tried to go away from him.”
And it worked.
It was Allen’s running — a game-high total of 205 rushing yards — which made the difference. Smash-mouth football, when done correctly, can be demoralizing for the team which cannot stop the physical attack.
Ryan Lazo/Hopewell News/News-Patriot
But while not being able to stop Powhatan in critical occasions didn’t help— even after recording three forced fumbles — not getting the offense back on track was a death-blow.
For all the ability Taylor brings to the table, he is inexperienced at the quarterback position.
Once the Indians began to climb back into the game, Taylor pressed. His eagerness to create plays led to unforced errors and interceptions.
After a mistake-free first half, minus the opening-drive fumble, Taylor threw four interceptions in the second-half, including two in the last four minutes of the game with a chance to take the lead.
“You learn how to fight. You learn how to compete out here,” Irby said of his team’s inability to swing back momentum in their favor. “You can’t relax. You can’t take anything for granted. You have to give a great effort every play.”
And that’s the mark of a team still learning how to compete at this level.
Hopewell had the game in complete control only to mentally relax as the scoreboard tilted in their favor before wilting once Powhatan punched back. It was made all the more impressive because the Indians essentially announced to the world what they would be calling — run after run after run.
Not only were the undersized Indians able to win the one-on-one battles in the trenches, the mentality they showed is something the Blue Devils can learn from.
“Our guys didn’t quit. They kept fighting,” Woodson said after the game. “We don’t have a tremendous passing game — everyone in the world knows that — they know we are coming but that’s all we could do.”
Even when faced with a 17-point hole, the Indians stuck to the game-plan, securing victory when a loss seemed all but certain. In a 10-game season, Hopewell can look at what occurred against Powhatan and learn from it, making success easier to obtain the rest of the way.