Monarch's Too Fast For Devils
By Ryan Lazo, sports editor
Oct 7, 2013, 08:25
Ryan Lazo/Hopewell News/News-Patriot
RICHMOND — With the band playing loudly, the cheers raining down on the field and Meadowbrook players celebrating, the silence along the Hopewell sideline was deafening.
No one said a word, but facial expressions and body language had a long-form story to tell after the Monarch’s Justin Miller busted through a Blue Devils’ defense for a 47-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter.
It was the back-breaker for a Hopewell team which had solidified itself after a poor first half, signaling the end for any hope of a comeback attempt.
“A lot of speed. There’s a lot of speed on Meadowbrook and we haven’t seen that kind of speed all year,” Blue Devils head coach Ricky Irby said after his team’s 42-12 loss. “We didn’t tackle well and I really believe we were shell shocked at first. All the credit to Meadowbrook. They had a great game-plan for us and they executed well.”
And that was the difference in the game.
The Monarch’s (3-2) executed in all phases of the game while the Blue Devils (1-4) left numerous plays on the field, hurting their confidence and their performance suffered. Following an opening drive score from Meadowbrook on a 25-yard catch and run by Khylil James, Hopewell’s players sunk their shoulders.
It seemed the team struggled to recover from the emotional and physically draining game last week against Thomas Dale. Because after the Monarch’s strike, the Blue Devils attempt to answer ended abruptly with a badly under-thrown ball by Tabyus Taylor, resulting in another scoring drive.
By the 3:17 mark of the first quarter, Hopewell trailed 14-0. On the sidelines they gathered with one another in attempt to pull themselves together before answering with a touchdown drive of their own on a Gabe Dupree run for 27 yards on a read-option play.
But even a last-second touchdown pass from Brandon Scott to Taylor with 18.5 seconds left in the half did nothing to cool down a Meadowbrook team which dominated in the first 24 minutes. The passing totals told the gory truth: 11-for-14 passing for 243 yards and three touchdowns while Hopewell went 1-for-11 with the lone touchdown pass.
Ryan Lazo/Hopewell News/News-Patriot
“We have to be able to throw the ball better,” Irby said of his team’s offense. “We can’t just keep running it every play. You have to have some kind of passing game and we’ll wrap our brains around it this weekend to come up with something for next week.”
The good news for Irby is the ugly passing totals were not as bad as first appeared.
It all came down to the lack of execution. Early in the first quarter, Taylor faked a handoff to Dupree, started to run right and fired to a wide-open Jarvezz Brown down the left sideline. The play, reminiscent of the touchdown pass against Powhatan, was there for the taking, but Taylor put a bit too much air under it and Brown’s diving try came up just short.
Then, in the middle of the third quarter where one touchdown would have made it a one score game, Taylor dropped back on consecutive plays and fired throws toward Darrell Taylor. One pass was too high for the 6-foot-4 target and the other bounced right out of his hands.
It’s Taylor’s running ability which opens up the passing game for the Blue Devils and if the execution can be ironed out during the week, the offense should be able to right itself for the next game.
“Tabyus is one of the best players we have played against in a long time,” Meadowbrook head coach Troy Taylor said after the game.
It’s what made Taylor’s total of 88 yards on just 16 carries all the more impressive with the defense specifically spying on him in the backfield. They aimed to not allow him to beat them, yet No. 5 was still able to create plays, holding out hope there will be more wins this season.
But the path to the playoffs did become tougher, even more so than trying to stop the Monarch's Miller who rushed for 209 yards on 16 carries for the Monarchs. The Blue Devils suffered injuries to three players — two of them deemed serious enough where the seasons are likely over for both Aaron Young and Darrell Taylor.
Both players are integral to the team’s success on offense with Young being a key cog on an offensive line which has played better than expected this season and Taylor as the dangerous wideout.
“We got to move on. If one guy can’t go the next one has to step up,” Irby said of the injuries. “There’s no excuses. No time to wallow in self-pity. We have to get better and be ready for the game next week.”
And what awaits the Blue Devils is an easier schedule which does not include playing 5 and 6A schools with the exception of Dinwiddie. It’s a schedule which shows a path to the playoffs after playing some of the best competition in the area the past two weeks.
“We don’t make any excuses. We go out there, line up and expect to win every game,” Irby said of the difficult schedule. “We aren’t into moral victories, but we believe we can win them.”
While the belief is there, the execution hasn’t which has to change if the Blue Devils are to halt a two-game losing streak against Colonial Heights on Friday and start to march themselves into a coveted playoff spot in the process.