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Changes Prove Positive For Dukes

After a rough start to the season, the Cumberland High School football team made a couple of changes prior to its homecoming game against Bluestone Friday night, and they seemed to work out well for the Dukes, who cruised to a 55-8 victory over the Barons.

Cumberland's (2-4, 1-2 JRD) win snaps a four-game losing streak that dates back to its season-opening victory over Prince Edward. It also ended an eight-game losing streak to James River District foes.

The Dukes made a switch at quarterback, inserting Bo Winbush in place of Devonta Booker, who moved out to wide out, and the change paid off immediately.

“I think we surprised a lot of people with the change,” said CHS head coach Mike Sutton, who toyed with the idea of platooning Winbush and Booker at the quarterback position before the start of the season. “Coming into this game, we felt it was a good time to make a change. Bo got off to a good start, and Devonta had a good offensive night as well.”

Cumberland jumped out to a 19-0 lead. Winbush was 5-5 on his first five passes, with three going for touchdowns. Booker was on the receiving end of Winbush's first pass which resulted in an 11-yard touchdown. Cumberland took a 13-0 lead on a 21-yard pass from Winbush to Rashawn Sims, and the Dukes made it 19-0 on Winbush's third pass, this one a 17-yard toss to Booker.

Bluestone (0-5, 0-3 JRD), which had not scored coming into the game, broke the drought in the second quarter on a fake field goal.

“It was a sight to see,” said Sutton. “As a coach, I can appreciate that. They've had a rough time this year, and getting that touchdown meant more to them than giving it up meant to us.”

Cumberland quickly refocused, and put to rest any thought of a Bluestone comeback.

Booker scored on a 60-yard sweep, and followed it with a 23-yard touchdown run. By the time the half was over, Cumberland was resting on a comfortable 39-8 lead.

Cumberland played its reserves for most of the second half.

“It was a great opportunity for our younger players to get some game time, as well as our seniors who don't often get in. It was nice to have that opportunity.”

Winbush was 6-11 passing on the night for 108 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. Booker had three catches for 59 yards and two touchdowns receiving, while Sims had one grab for the 21-yard touchdown.

Ben Ricker lead the Dukes with 125 yards rushing and a touchdown on four carries, but Cumberland used its speedy receivers to move the ball on the ground as well. Booker had three rushes for 80 yards and two touchdowns, while Sims had three carries for 44 yards and a touchdown. As a team, Cumberland gained 312 yards on the ground on 26 carries.

Defensively, the Dukes were led by Arthur Byrd, who had 12 tackles and three sacks. BJ Roach, Luke French, Hunter Glover and Winbush had six tackles apiece, while lineman Jamal Watson had an interception and a 45-yard return deep into Bluestone territory.

“It was good, both for our seniors to win their homecoming game, and to get us out of this rut. It was nice to have something positive to happen for a change. It won't get easier with the gauntlet of Goochland, Buckingham, Amelia and Nottoway, but we have some positives heading into those games.”

The Dukes will travel to Goochland on Friday night for a 7 p.m. contest.