Buckingham Football: With veteran team, Knights built for success
Published 8:46 pm Sunday, August 21, 2022
BUCKINGHAM – Exciting moments and close finishes were the norm for the Buckingham football team the past couple seasons. In 2019, the Knights pieced together a nine-game winning streak and edged Page County, 20-19, in overtime in the regional quarterfinals.
Last year, Buckingham saw four games decided by six points or less, splitting them with a heart-breaking loss to Strasburg in the Region 2B quarterfinals where they saw a 16-point lead evaporate in a 22-19 decision.
Since that defeat that closed out their 2021 season at 6-3 overall, the Knights have been eager to get on the gridiron and show they’re ready to take another step forward.
“We’ve been working hard in the off-season. These guys have been in the weight room since January, getting ready for the season. I’ve got a good group of seniors coming back. It’s a very coachable group that listens, too,” remarked four-year head coach Seth Wilkerson.
“We’ve got some talented skill guys back. Each day, we’re just working and trying to get better at the small things that we do.”
A talented returning group
Of those gifted athletes, several will play multiple positions and get to showcase their versatility. One of them is senior K.J. Williams, a dynamic playmaker that is likely to play quarterback and tailback offensively, plus line up in the secondary on defense at both cornerback and safety. In the playoff game against Strasburg last November, Williams rushed for 172 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries.
Another senior expected to get snaps at QB along with wide receiver and defensive back is Kymeir Lockett. He’s a player that like Williams could garner All-District or even All-Region accolades. The same may very well be true for senior tight end and defensive end Tucker Motley. Motley is one of seven starters returning on defense for a Knights team that gave up just 13.4 points per game a season ago. That was their best showing since 2009.
“We missed a couple games because of COVID and that kind of put us behind, but they got better as the year went along,” Wilkerson noted of the defense.
Another player that figures to be a major contributor on both sides of the ball is senior tailback and linebacker Rocco Raynor. Going both ways doesn’t exclude the linemen either. In the trenches, senior Desmond Vaughan returns as the starting center and is going to be a key component on the d-line as well.
Buckingham football has a need for depth
“We lost a few on the offensive line that were seniors last year, so building that back up will be big. We do have a couple guys back there that are coming along,” remarked Wilkerson, fully recognizing the value of getting the backups ready to step in and start at a moment’s notice so that this group can reach its full potential.
“It’s the same as it is for everybody else, establishing depth. There are some younger guys that we have to get them on the same page as those seniors. Depth is the big key right now.”
Buckingham opens the 2022 season against Appomattox, who the Knights beat 27-6 in 2019 in the last meeting between the two teams. Appomattox has won five of the past seven state titles at the Class 2 level. That includes three in a row from 2015-17.
“We know that’s a big game. That’s a good measuring stick for where we are for the season,” Wilkerson acknowledged. “It’s always a good, well-coached team. We can get an idea from the scrimmages, but that first game really tells us where we are at as far as what’s going good, what we need to improve on and go from there.”
2022 Buckingham football schedule:
August 26 – at Appomattox
September 9 – William Campbell
September 16 – Fuqua
September 23 – at Prince Edward
September 30 – at Franklin
October 7 – at Randolph-Henry
October 13 – at Nottoway
October 21 – Amelia County
October 27 – at Central-Lunenburg
November 4 – Cumberland