Colonels looking to take down Hawks for first win

By WALT MOODY The Winchester Star  
Sep 6, 2018 
James Wood coach Ryan Morgan said no explanations were needed for his players following last week’s 28-21 loss to Justice.
The Colonels lost three lost fumbles in the final quarter as Justice rallied to the win.
“They know they let something slip through their fingers,” Morgan said. “We’ve been trying to emphasize some things this week — ball security and mental toughness. Hopefully that will translate to [tonight] and Fridays in future weeks.”
The Colonels (0-2) hope to keep control of the ball as they host Skyline at 7 p.m. tonight at Kelican Stadium. The Hawks are coming off a 21-20 triumph against Broadway, having scored twice in the final quarter after trailing 20-7.
“They’re a scrappy team,” Morgan said. “They always seem to give us issues.”
Last year, four quarters could not determine a winner between the two squads. The Colonels pulled out a 28-22 win in overtime.
To knock off the Hawks this time, Morgan says his team must hold onto the ball. He’s still a bit baffled as to why his team struggled to do that last week.
“I don’t know what it was,” he said. “It was a really weird occurrence. We really haven’t had many issues in practice with fumbles. We didn’t really have issues in scrimmages with fumbles. We didn’t have a problem against Sherando with ball security. It was kind of a freak thing.
“We do have to get better at it,” he added. “There were some times where we were carrying the ball loosely. The one thing that I think might have been a factor that we just have to play through is that it was so hot and the kids were so sweaty it was hard to get their arms and their hands dry. … Obviously we’re going to be playing in the rain and the mud later in the year and we have to shore up our ball security.”
When the Colonels held onto the ball, they moved it on the ground. Jackson Turner had a career night with 167 yards on 20 carries, scoring a pair of times.
More important than Turner’s individual effort, Morgan said it gave the horses up front a boost.
“It really helped the confidence of our offensive line,” he said. “They opened some big holes and playing power football is kind of our identity.”
Skyline coach Heath Gilbert was impressed with the Colonels’ attack. “They’re huge,” Gilbert said. “They like to run the football and they do it well. We’ve gotta play tough, we’ve gotta play physical and if we don’t they’re gonna run the ball for a whole lot of yards.”
The Colonels could possibly get a little bit of extra help against Skyline. Quarterback Carson Hoberg, running back/defensive back William Crowder, running back Joey Vitola and two-way lineman Luke Roy all missed last week’s game.
“A few of those guys have been working back in, but they’re still a little bit dinged up,” said Morgan whose ailing players are working with team trainers. “... My hope is to get a couple of those guys back for [today.]”
Morgan has been pleased from what he has seen from his charges who will face Skyline. He said practice has gone well in preparation for the clash.
“They’ve come ready to work,” he said of his players. “We haven’t had any guys getting down on themselves or anything like that. They know that they need to improve and are willing to take those steps to get there.”
In addition to holding onto the ball better, he’d like to see the Colonels tighten up some mistakes on defense. He was disappointed at how Justice quarterback Marco Cessarato was able to shrug off tackles on a game-winning, 14-yard TD run with 19 seconds left.
“We did some good things and we did some silly things, too,” Morgan said. “We were playing faster and reading formations better. But, we didn’t tackle as well last week as I would have liked. The last TD they scored, we had three guys who had a shot at him.”
He said his defense, led by Kevin Brown and Jacob Owens (18 tackles each) will have to play well against the Hawks.
Last week, Skyline’s Laterrian Barber made two big plays, taking a punt back 58 yards for a TD and hauling in a 21-yard scoring strike from Chase Tasker in the fourth quarter. Caleb Reedy’s six-yard TD run with 3:04 left capped the Hawks’ comeback.
“It does a lot, I think, especially when you’ve got a long weekend coming up and next you have the off day,” Gilbert said of the impact of the win. “It’s just easier for the kids to have a good attitude to start the week when we get to come off a win. And that feeling afterward was fantastic. The feeling on the field was fantastic.”
Morgan expects a battle.
“They are a team that always plays well against us,” Morgan said. “We have to match them in intensity. We have to rally to the ball. We have to get 11 guys to the football.”
The Northern Virginia Daily contributed to this story.
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