James Wood looks for Homecoming win against Jefferson

In weeks No. 2 and 3 this season, the James Wood football team gained a grand total of 45 yards rushing on a combined 32 carries.
The Colonels lost both contests.
But with an offensive line that’s now whole again and the emergence of two running backs, the fortunes have changed for the James Wood ground game. Over the past two games, the Colonels (1-4) have piled up 421 yards, averaging 6.4 yards per carry, and enter Friday’s 7 p.m. Homecoming clash against Jefferson (W.Va.) fresh off their first win of the season.
James Wood coach Ryan Morgan says there is no coincidence his team’s offense production has improved over the past two weeks with more balance to offset the passing game. The Colonels threw 57 total times in the Week 2 and 3 losses to Skyline and Brentsville.
“The run game is huge,” Morgan said. “We thought we could run the ball better, but the first couple of weeks we were averaging one or two yards a carry. At that point, you’re kind of slamming your head against a brick wall. … In high school, it’s tough to operate if you can’t run the ball consistently.”
Elijah Richards has topped the 100-yard mark in back-to-back games, gaining 118 and scoring a TD in Saturday’s 22-6 win at North Hagerstown. Lane Overbaugh also topped 100 yards in a loss to unbeaten Kettle Run the previous week.
The Colonels also did not allow as sack as Jared Neal threw for 140 yards and two touchdowns.
That contest also marked just the second time that tackles Michael Cummins and Kquinse Robinson, guards Ethan Pingley and Brandon Waters and center Jack Thompson have started together on the offensive line. Pingley and Thompson are the only two to start all five games.
“The offensive line is playing better, especially in pass protection,” Morgan said. “Our backs have improved in pass protection. We’ve kind of shuffled some guys around and the two last weeks that was the first time that we’ve had the same two offensive lines and they are starting to gel a little bit.”
The Colonels’ defense is coming off its best game of the season, recording 15 tackles for losses with Zach Smith registering six of those among his 15 total tackles in the contest.
“The defense played really well on Saturday,” Morgan said. “I think it brings them some confidence and it took a lot of pressure off of the offense, too.”
The defense will certainly get a test against Jefferson. The Cougars (4-2) boast several outstanding wideouts, including Spencer Powell and Keyshawn Robinson. Evan Tewell rushed for more than 1,000 yards as a junior.
The new face is quarterback Dylan Harich, who started the season as a reserve. The Cougars are unbeaten since Harich took over and he’s thrown seven TD passes over the past two weeks in wins over North Hagerstown and South Hagerstown.
Jefferson is 1-1 against Class 4 Northwestern District teams this season, having beaten Millbrook 27-22 in the second opener and falling 41-23 against Sherando.
“They’re a good football team,” Morgan said of the Cougars. “They’re super athletic. They’ve got several guys out on the edge and they have an All-State running back returning. They bring back a lot of talent from last year. … They’re very dangerous on offense.
“On defense, they solid up front and they have got a lot of those athletes playing safety and cornerback. And on special teams, they have those athletes returning the ball.”
What is the recipe to making the Homecoming crowd at Kelican Stadium happy?
“We need to be consistent on offense and move the chains and on defense we need to keep their athletes in front of us,” Morgan said. “We can’t let them get behind us.”
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