Colonels aim for second straight win in clash with Wildcats

By WALT MOODY The Winchester Star  
Sep 12, 2018
WINCHESTER — Last season, James Wood coach Ryan Morgan saw what Warren County was willing to do with a week to get ready for the Colonels.
The Wildcats changed several components, especially on offense, which stoked their 35-8 romp over the Colonels.
Heading into tonight’s 7 p.m. clash at Kelican Stadium, Morgan knows the Colonels (1-2) could see some more changes from the Wildcats (0-2) in a game that was moved up a day for the anticipated adverse weather from Hurricane Florence.
“That was one of the things that threw us off, but it shouldn’t have thrown us off as much as it did,” Morgan said of the changes made by Warren County coach Brian Bush last season. “This year, we have to expect that they’re going to put in some things and reshuffle. ... We know that they are willing to make some changes during their bye week.”
Morgan’s lineup has been constantly changing all season thanks to injuries. He’s been without multiple starters throughout the first three games. Quarterback Carson Hoberg, running back William Crowder, two-way lineman Luke Roy and linebacker Joey Vitola returned last week and helped the Colonels hold off Skyline for a 20-14 win.
But in that contest, the Colonels still had to make adjustments on the offensive line because of an injury.
For a program that prides itself in running the football, Morgan said it has been a challenge along the line.
“There are a lot of moving parts right now,” he said. “It’s difficult, but we have some guys who are willing to jump in at different spots. ... I think it’s good for them to cross-train a little bit where they can jump in. You typically want a top six or seven guys, with one or two of them being able to swing back-and-forth between a couple of positions. Ideally, you’d like to have your top five guys healthy, but I think we have enough depth and guys who have been cross-trained to fill those holes without two much of an issue.”
The moving parts banded together last week against Skyline. The Colonels’ rushed for 254 yards and three touchdowns on 49 carries against the Hawks. Sam Adkins gained for 107 yards on 16 carries and speedy William Crowder had 94 yards and two touchdowns, one a 44-yarder.
“Last year they were big but I think they’re more experienced now,” Bush said of the Colonels. “They know exactly what they wanna do. They have big boys up front and they’ve got some really good athletes in the backfield, and one [Crowder] that if they get outside it’s gonna be hard to stop.”
Bush’s defense did a good job bottling up Handley’s rushing attack in a 15-14 loss in the season-opener. Morgan watched that contest in person and was impressed with the Wildcats’ aggressiveness.
“The biggest thing I’ve seen about them defensively is that they’ve got some guys who can run and they all fly to the football,” he said. “They’re not very big, but I’ve been telling the offensive line, ‘Look, they are going to fire off the football and they’re going to get 11 guys to the football.’ I’ve been impressed with the way they run the football and how aggressive they are.
“We going to have to move some people because even if we block their front line their safeties and linebackers will stick their noses in there and make tackles for losses if they have a chance.”
Morgan said his defense will face a challenge in trying to stop Warren County tailback Ronnie Dodson. Last season, Dodson rushed for 212 yards and three scores against the Colonels.
“He’s a tough kid,” Morgan said. “He’s quick and he’s 190 or 195 pounds, so he’s well built for a high school running back.”
The Wildcats also have a dual-threat quarterback in Bryce Post.
“Offensively, their quarterback throws the ball pretty well and gets rid of it quickly,” Morgan said. “He does a nice job running their offense. He’s pretty solid and can shake off some tackles.”
But even with two big skill players, the Wildcats have scored just a total of 21 points in their two games.
Granted those two opponents — Handley and Kettle Run — are a combined 6-0, but Bush said his team has squandered some opportunities by not finishing off drives.
“As a staff we sat back and sort of looked back at what can we do to help these players out and recognizing everything,” Bush said. “I think we’ve done that and we should have a good game plan going into this game.”
Morgan said tonight’s winner will be determined in the trenches.
“On both sides of the ball, we have to win up front,” Morgan said. “We have to run the ball and be able to block their blitzes and quick defensive linemen. On defense, their running back ran for over 200 yards last year. We need to win at the line of scrimmage on defense, too, and hopefully bottle him up a little bit.”
— The Northern Virginia Daily contributed to this story.