Published 3:59 pm Thursday, September 22, 2011
Needless to say, everything came easy for the Buckingham Knights in last week's 68-0 steamrolling of Fluvanna. Seven days later, that won't be the case. Buckingham (3-0) will face its toughest challenge of the season against Amelia, which is ranked second in the first Group A poll. Last week's 13-7 victory over Gretna gave the Raiders (3-0) a lot of credibility. Incidentally, Buckingham is fifth among others receiving votes.
It's been a while since Buckingham has entered a regular-season game as an underdog. Teams that are averaging 54.67 points per game are usually considered the favorites. Buckingham's gaudy offensive numbers will be put to the test against what appears to be one of the more stingy defenses around. The Raiders are giving up just seven points per game.
Buckingham is averaging 188.67 yards per game rushing, and 158 per contest through the air. Sophomore tailback Kenneth Johnson leads the Knights in rushing with 177 yards and four touchdowns on the season. Quarterback Tarian Ayers has rushed for 163 yards and nine touchdowns in three games. Explosive freshman tailback Kyree Koonce has rushed for 153 yards on 13 touches (11.8 yards per carry) and a pair of touchdowns. In all, six different Knights have carried the ball thus far.
Ayers is doing a pretty good job spreading the ball around among his receivers as well. Senior wideout Landon Allen leads the team with ten receptions for 172 yards and a touchdown, while Cam Johnson has six grabs for 111 yards and a touchdown. So far, seven Knights have caught passes, which is an extremely high number for the high school ranks after only three games.
About the only two offensive categories that haven't been able to post much are punts and kick returns. Buckingham has punted just twice so far (both against Appomattox), and has just three kick off returns on the season. New kicker John Saxon has hit 20 of 24 extra point attempts, and was 8-10 last week.
Buckingham's defense has created 11 turnovers (seven fumble recoveries). Two of the Knights' four interceptions have resulted in touchdowns.
Is Amelia's defense that stout? Does Buckingham have too many weapons? The answer is probably yes to both questions. One thing is for certain: This game won't be pretty much over by the end of the first quarter.
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After one week at home, the Fuqua School Falcons (3-0) board the bus again for a non-conference game at Hampton Roads Academy. Like last week's contest against Broadwater Academy, this game wasn't on the schedule until a little over a month ago.
This will be Fuqua's final tune-up before a four-game stretch that would test even the best teams in the state (Isle of Wight, @ Fredericksburg Christian, @ Blessed Sacrament-Huguenot, Roanoke Catholic). The Navigators (1-2) did get into the win column last week with a 27-21 victory over Quantico. They could just as easily be 2-1 if not for a 14-12 loss to Chincoteague in their season-opener. Sandwiched in-between is a 55-0 loss to Norfolk Christian.
The Navigators are led by quarterback Marshall Bagley who had his best game of the season last week against Quantico. He completed seven passes on 13 attempts for 205 yards and two touchdowns. Quincy Mack had 11 carries for 93 yards and a 34-yard reception. Tre Swinton caught four balls for 124 yards.
Fuqua will counter with the familiar line-up of Carter Cunningham, Larry Haskins and Charles Williams. The Falcons are averaging 355.3 yards per game (277 on the ground). Cunningham, who missed the season-opener against Brunswick Academy has completed 10 passes on 14 attempts for 211 yards and a touchdown. Williams lead the Falcons offensively with 469 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns. He also has five catches for 109 yards. Haskins has 318 yards on 41 carries and two touchdowns. He also has three receptions for 92 yards. In last week's 37-16 victory over Broadwater Academy, Haskins had an impressive night defensively with ten solo tackles, five assists and an interception.
It stands to reason that as district-mates the Cumberland Dukes would be familiar with the Randolph-Henry Statesmen. This year, however, they're probably even better acquainted. Though both teams have played just three games apiece, they share two common opponents. Additionally, R-H and Cumberland played each other in the 2010 season finale.
By the time Friday rolls around, it's safe to say that both teams will be pretty sick and tired of seeing one-another in film study.
Cumberland (1-2) finally managed to have a good first half in last week's game against Altavista. It was the second half that was the problem, as Altavista erased a 13-10 deficit at the break, and went on to win 44-19.
Altavista defeated Randolph-Henry 50-20 in R-H's season opener, and Appomattox, which defeated Cumberland 41-0 two weeks ago, handed the Statesmen a 36-14 defeat last week.
Cumberland senior quarterback Devonta Booker has put together some solid stats so far. He's 21-34 passing (62 percent) for 323 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions. A running back by committee approach hasn't looked to bad, either. The Dukes are led by tailback Justus Dowdy, who has 197 yards on 39 carries and two touchdowns. As a team, CHS is averaging just under 150 yards per game on the ground. The Dukes are moving the ball, they're having trouble finishing drives. Cumberland is averaging 15 points per game offensively, and giving up 32.6 ppg. on defense.
Randolph-Henry (1-2) is averaging 170 yards per game on the ground, and a little over 80 yards passing. The statesmen are averaging 21.3 ppg. offensively, while giving up 33.6 ppg. on defense.
There is not a lot of difference between the two teams statistically or by scoreboard results so far. That shouldn't change after Friday night. The winner will have renewed optimism heading into the second week of JRD play, while the loser will be scrambling to remain in the playoff hunt.
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This week, No.14 Hampden-Sydney (3-0) will make the long trip down to Montgomery, Alabama to face the Hawks of Huntingdon College (2-1). Saturday's game will mark the third meeting between these two teams and first since 2008. The Tigers have taken both decisions, including a 38-34 win in Montgomery in 2008.
Hampden-Sydney is coming off of a 38-14 win over Ferrum College in which senior wide receiver Kyle Vance and sophomore free safety Sean Stewart were named the ODAC's Offensive and Defensive Players of the Week. Vance tallied a school record 228 receiving yards, and Stewart led the team in tackles with 11 stops.
Huntingdon will play its second consecutive home game, winning last week 48-41 over Faulkner. In the win, junior quarterback Neal Posey earned a spot on the D3football.com Team of the Week after throwing for 439 yards and six touchdowns – including the game-winner with 37 seconds left on the clock.
This week could be a shootout with each team averaging over 500 yards of offense every Saturday. Both programs are in the national Top-30 in scoring offense and Top-Ten in total offense. In addition, Posey ranks fourth and Tiger play caller Travis Lane ranks ninth in passing.
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