Knights' Down Monarchs
By Blake Belden, Staff Writer
Oct 14, 2013, 08:33
Blake Belden/Hopewell News/News-Patriot
CHESTER ó In the midst of soggy conditions and a long standing rivalry, the Thomas Dales Knights (4-2) overthrew the Meadowbrook Monarchs (3-3) on Friday night, beating them 30-14 at home.
The Knights defense excelled in the victory, recovering the kickoff at the start of the game, shutting down the Monarchs for the first 33 minutes of the game and forcing a safety to put the first points on the scoreboard.
Running back Eric Finney showcased another monster performance for Thomas Dale, rushing the ball 23 times for 100 yards and three touchdowns.
Not only does he put up the numbers, but he possesses an acute athletic awareness while he does it, demonstrated perfectly by a touchdown run in the third quarter where Finney sprinted right narrowly avoiding the sideline and turning a tackle into a backwards arching dive to cross the plane of the end zone to put the Knights up 30-8.
ďEricís a special player. Those kind of guys come along once in a while. At Thomas Dale weíve been blessed with some great tailbacks...in the past. We got another special one right now,Ē said Knights head coach Kevin Tucker.
Finneyís commanding presence on Friday, and always, would not have been possible without the strength of Thomas Daleís offensive line, battling the defensive line and allowing for Finney to run right through or around the opposing team.
ďI canít say enough about the offensive line. They took the challenge this week. We told them it was going to rain all week. We were going to run the football and it was their game. And they took that challenge. They did great,Ē Tucker said.
Meadowbrook running back Justin Miller almost equaled Finneyís rushing yards with 24 carries for 95 yards, and pulled in a two-point conversion, however he didnít have the touchdowns to match.
Terrelle Whitaker pulled in a long touchdown reception from Talik Mann for the Monarchs late in the game for a last minute score, although by this time it was already too late.
Mann threw for 163 yards in the loss, and Knights quarterback Trevor Luke gained 97 yards on four completions, as well as running the ball in for a touchdown.
The game was a penalty ridden showdown, where both teams racked up a combined 31 penalties for a total loss of 268 yards. Thomas Dale had 13 penalties for 120 yards and Meadowbrook had 18 penalties for 148 yards.
ďIt was a little bit of a sloppy game. They were calling a lot of personal fouls, something that I donít condone at all. We got a couple of them, too, but thatís not good football. I donít care who youíre playing for, thatís not right. You need to play clean, hardnosed football, play between the whistles, and you know thatís what you got to do,Ē Tucker said.
But, as is the case with many historic rivalries, heightened tensions become inevitable and often times incite players to take more competitive, physical action on the playing field, and the rivalry between Thomas Dale and Meadowbrook goes way back.
ďThomas Dale and Meadowbrook has really become a great rivalry. Itís always going to be intense...Itís reminding me a lot of the old Dale-Byrd rivalry. The kids have, you know, they grow up together, play in little league together, and when they come out here itís going to be a hard fought game. I think thatís what it comes down to, the kids are on edge. Theyíre excited because itís a big game,Ē Tucker said.
Since 1999, the Knights have gone 11-4 over the Monarchs with an average score of 23-17, a sure indicator that the games are much closer than the record may suggest. Both teams have experienced their fair share of winning seasons in the past decade, where Thomas Dale has only finished with one losing season since 2001, and Meadowbrook has not had a losing season since 2002.
Thomas Dale will bout at home with Colonial Heights on Friday, and Meadowbrook will do the same with Prince George.