Teams ready for opening week

Published 10:25 am Friday, August 30, 2013

Defensive lineman Aaron Williams readies to tackle the practice dummy after getting by the offensive line. Williams has had a good week practicing, and coach Willie Gillus Jr., has high hopes for him. -- CAIN MADDEN | TIDEWATER NEWS

Defensive lineman Aaron Williams readies to tackle the practice dummy after getting by the offensive line. Williams has had a good week practicing, and coach Willie Gillus Jr., has high hopes for him. — CAIN MADDEN | TIDEWATER NEWS

Sidney Moore / contributing writer

WINDSOR—Three of the four local teams in action tonight will be traveling.

Isle of Wight will be the lone home team, taking on Portsmouth Christian tonight at 7. Also kicking off at 7 p.m. will be Windsor and Southampton High School on the road. Southampton Academy will kick off at 7:30 p.m. at Lawrence Academy.

Windsor High

The Windsor Dukes will be making the journey to West Point to take on the Pointers in the season opener.

Coach Charles Parrish said, “Winning this game comes down to mistakes being kept to a minimum.”

He’s expecting the team to hit the field and put forth a great effort as well making sure his Dukes have fun.

When asked about the Pointers, he said, “They throw well, are big up front when it comes to defense, and are highly athletic.”

Parrish said the Dukes have had an excellent week in practice. The team as a whole is getting together and becoming more in sync, which comes from playing alongside each other for a while.

The Dukes are looking forward to the season opener. They want to set the tone early on that they are a force to be reckoned with. It would also benefit the boys to bring that momentum back home, Parrish said.

Isle of Wight Academy

The Chargers of Isle of Wight Academy will be hosting the Portsmouth Christian Patriots for their first game.

“We tried to have a slow offense with Bishop Sullivan during last week’s game, and for this week we’re going to keep the same mindset, but keep it successful. We have to set a positive note for the season,” said Coach Dale Chapman.

The Patriots run a spread team offense and have a new running back that only recently transferred from a public school.

“It seems like every team we play now has some new transfer from a public school,” he said.

Portsmouth Christian and the Chargers both have something to prove with them being fresh off losses, Portsmouth to Norfolk Christian, and Isle of Wight to Bishop Sullivan Catholic.

Practices have been pretty good for the Chargers. The guys understand that mistakes were made and have found ways to correct those.

“We have new guys on the field and old guys in new positions, so it’s taken some time to get moving,” said Chapman.

The players are getting more physical in the area of encouragement and taking active roles in keeping each other focused, he said.

Players that are expected to show up ready to go are the usual suspects, Brandon Saxby at quarterback and Gage Rogers at wide receiver. Chapman is most impressed with his sophomores stepping up to the call and his wide receivers showing depth. That will create opportunities for the run by keeping the Patriots’ defense guessing.

Southampton Academy

The Southampton Academy Raiders will be traveling to North Carolina to battle the Lawrence Academy Warriors.

“We’re a run first team,” Coach Dale Marks said. “We have a capable quarterback and wide receiver, but we look for the run first.”

They run an 8-man version of the Zone Read offense instead of the conventional 11 due to the rules of their conference.

“That’s our pride there, the Zone Read,” he said. “All of our other plays are complementary off that and Off Tackle power plays.”

The Raiders also keep a lot of motion behind the line before the snap to keep the defense on their toes.

Speaking on the Warriors, Marks described them as, “Huge. They’re not speed oriented, which won’t be in their favor in a 8-man game. It’s possibly a liability because there are less men to cover all that space. And if your players are slow, they’ll be exposed.”

This week’s practices have been okay in the coach’s eyes. The preseason went really well. There was a jamboree that the Raiders attended at Rocky Mount Academy in North Carolina. They played against the Warriors down there and dominated that game, which led to the players having a slight disinterest in Lawrence Academy.

“We need to tighten up our chin straps a bit,” he said.

Other than that, the boys are looking forward to this season opener. They are fresh off of an undefeated season and a State Championship. Though three seniors and a couple of key players aren’t on the team, they have a very talented roster taking the field.

Some of the people to keep an eye on would be Matt Rose at quarterback, returning from last year. Their tailback, Tonee Hill, who was the Conference Player of the Year, is also returning. And the entire backfield is interchangeable with each other, so look for players like Ethan Edwards, Cam Hines, Paul Parker and Nate Williams to be all over the place at any given moment, creating an ultimate threat.

Southampton High

For the Southampton Indians opening game, they will be heading to the peninsula for a showdown with the Poquoson Islanders.

“We’re going to try to run the football at them. We feel that we have a strong running attack and a dominant offensive line,” said Coach Willie Gillus Jr. “I think there are some weaknesses where we can exploit.

“Offensively, they’re deceptive. Defensively, they’re big and strong. Both of their lines are big and strong. Plus, they’re a veteran group,” he said when asked to describe the Islanders. “We have our work cut out for us.”

The practices leading up to thus far to Friday’s game have been good for the Big Red Machine.

“We just had a spirited practice and guys are being attentive. They’re listening. It’s game week, and they’re ready to go,” said Gillus. “All the scrimmages and preseason is over. Now it’s time to get the real season rolling.”

The hopes and wills are high for the Indians as they get prepared for their match.

“We’re healthy, and that’s a blessing,” he said when asked about how he felt about the game. “And we’re looking forward to a very good football game against a very good Poquoson team. We’re excited.”

Their entire defense will be something to see with special attention being paid to the defensive tackle, David Howell, as well as others. Aaron Williams has been doing well at practice and preseason match ups, and Koby Williams has been versatile, taking on rolls in the offensive and defensive capacity. On the offensive end of things, you have Divine Fenner, jokingly called Mr. Excitement, who is a do-all player on the offense.