A spoiled homecoming

Published 6:26 am Saturday, October 14, 2017

For Prince Edward County High School’s varsity football team, its game against visiting Central Lunenburg High School went from being an exciting part of homecoming night to simply being the contest that happened on Friday the 13th.

Early in the second half, both teams were scoring at will, but then the Eagles offense committed multiple turnovers and their defense could not stop Central. The Chargers ran away with a potentially historic 87-46 victory.

It was part of a pair of high-scoring victories and spoiled homecomings in the Heart of Virginia on Friday as Buckingham County High School recorded an 84-21 victory over host Cumberland County High School.

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Prince Edward Athletic Director Rodney Kane said while the Eagles have suffered a worse margin of defeat than the one they experienced Friday against Central, he has never seen 87 points produced by a team in a Prince Edward game before.

Eagles Head Coach James Ford gave credit to the Chargers and their trademark running attack.

“They ran their stuff,” he said. “We knew what they were running. Everyone in the stands knew what they were running, and they executed. And hats off to them. They beat us up front, and those backs, they found holes, and we came up short. … They outplayed us, they took it to us, and we just had no response.”

Prince Edward is no stranger to high scoring games this season, but in the previous two instances, it came out on top. The Eagles left Charlotte Court House on Sept. 22 with a 55-40 over Randolph-Henry High School on homecoming night for the Statesmen, and the Eagles also opened the season with a 52-46 comeback win over visiting King William High School.

For part of a marathon third quarter on Friday, it looked like Prince Edward might have been recreating some of its season opening magic. It came back from being down by multiple touchdowns to make the score 44-40, aided in part by a Central turnover on special teams.

“We had momentum on our side, and we made a mistake,” Ford said, referring to a crucial fumble during a productive drive that gave the ball back to the Chargers and their potent running run game. “A team like that, they’re going to capitalize on a mistake. And it’s my fault. I take blame for this one, because we knew, and the preparation just wasn’t there. And that’s on the head coach. That’s on me.”

Though Central Head Coach Will Thomas said he was pleased to see his offense experience so much success, he was displeased with his team’s defense and was quick to praise the effectiveness of Prince Edward’s own powerful offense even in defeat.

That offense was operating without one of its stars Friday, as junior running back J’Sean Dupuy was out with a dislocated elbow suffered during the Eagles’ 24-20 loss Oct. 6 to host Amelia County High School.

Despite the absence of Dupuy, Prince Edward’s run game remained strong thanks to good production from juniors Rahme Marshall and Jarrel Robinson.

Senior quarterback Zion Lewis also contributed to the team’s strong offensive effort, with key passes to junior wide receiver Rah’Quan Payne and others.

The absence of Dupuy, however, was felt more prominently on defense, where has been playing as an inside linebacker.

“We had some guys step up and make plays, but I would say ‘yeah,’” Ford said when asked if the Eagles missed Dupuy defensively.

Further putting into perspective the difficult nature of the 41-point loss with an opponent scoring 87, Ford said, “It’s rough because it’s seniors and your homecoming.”

Though the season may have soured for the moment, Prince Edward remains above .500 with a record of 4-3 heading into next Friday’s game at 7 p.m. against host Nottoway High School (4-3).

“Our goals we set for our team are not unattainable,” Ford said. “We’ve just got to come in Monday ready to work. That’s the big thing. We’ve just got to be ready to work every day in practice, and we stress that. We’re going to try to stress that this week, and let’s try to get better. Try to put this behind us and just try to get better.”