Preview - James Wood at Heritage
When: Today, 7 p.m.
Where: Heritage High School in Leesburg
2014 Records: James Wood Colonels (5-6); Heritage Pride (3-7).
Last year: Heritage won 24-12.
Players to watch: James Wood — RB/LBTyler Bishop; Heritage — WR/LBCole Miller.
Preview: James Wood players will see a lot of familiar faces from the team that knocked them off in the season opener last fall.
Heritage returns 10 starters on offense and seven more on defense.
Former Millbrook coach Reed Prosser, in his third season at Heritage, says it’s nice to have experienced players on the field.
“We’ve gotten better,” Prosser said. “… Our kids shave now. It’s good to play kids who shave as opposed to kids who do not.”
The Pride got the best of Wood last season, taking advantage of early turnovers and racking up a 459-141 edge in total yards in a 24-12 triumph.
“We gave up three turnovers in the passing game and gave up a fake punt,” Wood coach Mark McHale said. “We can’t turn the ball over.”
Mitch Westbrook, a 5-foot-9, 165-pound senior this season, fueled Heritage’s victory, rushing for 116 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries.
“He’s a good running back,” McHale said. “We better play very good run defense.”
Westbrook has plenty of company from last year’s squad. Junior quarterback Alex Carlin returns along with standout receiver Cole Miller (6-3, 190).
“For us to be successful we have to run the football, but by the same token if we get the matchups we like we can throw it around some,” Prosser said.
Prosser said his team showed improvement in scrimmage action, particularly on defense, which was the weak unit for the Pride last season. The unit is led by senior linebacker Tyler Daily (6-0, 228).
McHale said his squad had differing results in its two scrimmages. “I thought we played better the first scrimmage than we did in the second one,” he said. “We gave up too many big plays in the second one.”
The Colonel offense is led by running back Tyler Bishop, who rushed for 894 yards last season.
McHale said the key for his offense is not to make mistakes.
“It’s very important that in that first game that we don’t have the clipping penalties and offsides that can throw off our rhythm.”
Prosser expects a tight game.
“They have some capable kids and they’re exceedingly well-coached,” he said. “There’s no doubt about that. It will be an exciting game.”