‘We can be very good this year’

Published 12:02 pm Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Prince Edward County High School varsity football team graduated 17 players from its 2016 playoff team, but Eagles Head Coach James Ford sees significant potential in his squad entering the 2017 season.

“We can be very good this year,” he said, as he and his staff work, “just getting the guys in the right spots, understanding schemes. We’re going to have some new faces, and we have some guys that maybe they played one position last year, they’re going to take over another position this year and just getting them to understand the scheme, what we’re trying to accomplish.”

The Eagles finished 5-6 last season, showing improvement as the year went on. The year ended when they fell in the first round of the Region 2A East playoffs to host East Rockingham High School.

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Key to players to graduate included running back Brandon “Tray” Scott, lineman Markeem Trent, quarterback Joel Thomas, defensive back Rajai Walton and wide receiver Bryan Moses.

Despite the losses, Prince Edward’s offense could have significant potency this season.

“We’ve got a lot of guys that’s going to be able to carry the rock for us this year,” Ford said.

Zion Lewis, who split duties at quarterback last year with Thomas, will be back behind center as a senior. He will be running the football at times along with Khalil Smith, Jalil Robinson, Jarrell Robinson, Rahme Marshall and J’Sean Dupuy.

Ford said he will also have slot receivers running jet sweep, which includes senior Aneal Walker and junior Tajh White.

“The ball is going to be spread around amongst those guys,” the coach said. “We have a lot of weapons. We’ve just got to get the ball in their hands and let them ride.”

It will be important for the Eagles to develop some depth.

“We’ve got a good core group of young men,” Ford said. “We’ve just got to get guys behind them … getting them to play, getting them up to par, so basically when guys come in, there’s no drop-off.”

He noted the Eagles have a well-constructed schedule, full of tests.

“Of course, you look at the banner games,” he said. “Goochland’s always the top team in the district.”

He also cited games against Central Lunenburg High School, Buckingham County High School and Cumberland County High School as key matchups.

“Every game on the schedule is a tough game,” Ford said. “Every game on the schedule is what you look forward to. I can’t really say one particular (contest) that we’re trying to look forward to. Right now, we’re just trying to go 1-0. I know it’s cliché, but we’re trying to go 1-0 every week.”