James Wood looks to end strong against Kettle Run

The James Wood football team was left scrambling a bit after its game with Kettle Run in Nokesville was moved up a day because of the threat of inclement weather, but the Colonels are looking forward to the challenge in front of them.
The Colonels (4-5, 2-3 Class 4 Northwestern District) will take on the Cougars (8-1, 4-1) at 7 p.m. tonight. Rated third in Region 4C, Kettle Run is playing its first game since beating Liberty 33-14 on Oct. 19, while James Wood is coming off a physical and emotional 21-14 overtime win over Handley on Friday.
James Wood coach Ryan Morgan said in a phone interview that James Wood has some players who are banged up from that game against Handley, so the Colonels weren’t practicing in full pads at all this week. Riding a two-game winning streak into its season finale, Morgan wants to gives James Wood its best possible chance to give everything it has against a formidable opponent.
“Hopefully the way we’ve played the last couple of weeks will give them some confidence and momentum going into [tonight],” Morgan said. “We talked about last year, when Kettle Run came in 7-2 and we came in 2-7. We put up a pretty good fight against them. They pulled away late, but we put up a pretty good fight against them in the first half at least. We’re just trying to make sure the kids believe in themselves.”
The Cougars led 20-13 at the half before finishing with a 47-26 win last year at the Colonels’ Kelican Stadium.
James Wood struggled on offense in Friday’s rain and mud against Handley — the Colonels had 187 yards and three turnovers — so not having to play in the wet conditions again this week might help that unit.
But taking on the Cougars’ defense is difficult in any conditions. Kettle Run is giving up only 12.9 points per game this season. The Cougars held Millbrook to only 253 yards and a season-low point total in a 44-24 win on Sept. 28, and they had 11 sacks in a 28-21 win over Handley on Sept. 22.
“Their defensive line is huge,” Morgan said. “The biggest thing is their defensive ends. A lot of teams just don’t have the size and the aggression and quickness that they have. They have defensive ends who are 235 and 240 pounds [in Chris Kallighan and Logan Morris, respectively], and they have a defensive tackle [in Austin Arvizo] who I think is listed at 320, and that’s underestimating I think. Their other defensive tackle [6-3, 265-pound Andrew Adair] is pretty solid, too.
“They’re aggressive, and they read screens pretty well. They use good technique. They do a good job of getting after the quarterback. They’re tough. They’re probably the best defensive line that we’ll see this year.”
James Wood’s offense is led by running backs William Crowder (75 carries, 652 yards, five TDs), Jackson Turner (126 carries, 571 yards, eight TDs) and Sam Adkins (75 carries, 525 yards, seven TDs) and quarterback Carson Hoberg (716 yards passing, four touchdowns, 11 interceptions).
“[Kettle Run is] very sound defensively at pretty much all of the positions,” Morgan said. “We just have to make sure we’re blocking the right people, and that we’re getting a hat on a hat up front. We saw one of their defensive ends blow up Warren County’s quarterback early in the year when we were scouting Warren County, and that put us on notice.
“Our offensive really has to step up their game. We’ve got to make sure we’re using our technique on the offensive line as well. Staying low, working on our hand placement. I told the offensive line that this is going to have to be the best game of their careers and that everything they’ve learned up until this point during their careers, they need to put it to use [tonight].”
Junior linebacker Kevin Brown leads James Wood’s defense with 81 tackles (12 for loss). Senior defensive lineman Luke Roy leads the team in tackles for loss (17, he has 43 tackles and 3.5 sacks) and senior defensive tackle Walker See leads the team with sacks with 5.5 (he has 46 tackles, 13 for loss).
The Colonels are coming off a game in which it shut out Handley for the final 35 minutes and 34 seconds and one possession of overtime. James Wood gave up only 52 yards and had four takeaways in that stretch.
Kettle Run is led by quarterback Casen Chumley, who threw for 155 yards and a touchdown in the Cougars’ most recent win over Liberty. The Cougars also feature wide receiver Shannon Ferguson (seven catches for 84 yards and a TD against Liberty) and running back Ridge Scott (18 carries for 94 yards and TD vs. Liberty).
“They do a great job of blocking up front,” Morgan said. “Their offensive line is very fundamentally sound.
“We’ve got to make sure we’re getting to the right gaps. They run a lot of power, some counters inside. That can get you out of your gap because it creates an extra gap on the play side. Our linebackers have to do a really good job of reading and flowing to the football. And we have to do a good job of tackling in the secondary, because their running backs are downhill, tough runners. We’ve just got to be fundamentally sound on the second and third levels.”
— Contact Robert Niedzwiecki at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Follow on Twitter @WinStarSports1