Dukes returning to health on the gridiron

Published 11:38 pm Thursday, October 19, 2023

Windsor High School’s varsity football team experienced a difficult stretch of the season thanks in part due to injuries, but the Dukes were seeing their on-field ranks restored as they entered their final two regular season games in pursuit of a playoff spot.

After averaging 33.3 points through its first four games this season, Windsor averaged only 4 points across the next three games. But its offense returned to form Friday, Oct. 13, against visiting Surry County High School.

The Cougars were able to exploit a vulnerable spot on the line created by one of the Dukes’ lingering injuries to rack up a massive 72 points, but unlike recent weeks, Windsor was able to go step-for-step with its opponent for a good bit of the game, putting up 39 points of its own.

“I feel a lot better than I did the last couple weeks, because I felt like, every week, we were trying to juggle players,” Dukes Head Coach Benjamin DuBois said during a Thursday, Oct. 19, interview.

He noted that Windsor is young and thin in numbers this season, meaning that any injury takes a notable toll on the team.

“One of my coaches said it best,” DuBois said. “‘When we lose one player, we lose three,’ because we play offense, defense, special teams.”

Among the Dukes players who have missed some time due to injury are sophomore running back/defensive end Javion Collins, junior wide receiver/cornerback Fleetwood Turner, senior offensive/defensive lineman Zachary Gilmore and sophomore kicker/cornerback/wide receiver Gavin Marshall.

“Everybody makes a difference, but with Javion, just having him on the field, that’s five yards every time he touches the ball,” DuBois said. “He didn’t buy into being a running back when he first came out. He wanted to play quarterback this year, and I told him where he would best help the team, and I think it’s starting to click now that he can really be good there.”

The coach noted that Collins was leading the area in rushing earlier this season.

“He’s back now, and he wants the title back — that’s what he said, so we’ll see what he does tomorrow night when we play against Greensville,” DuBois said.

Marshall has still been dealing with a shoulder injury, so he has just been kicking, and Gilmore was still out against Surry, which the Cougars took advantage of, but the injury report was shortening as Windsor (2-6) entered its penultimate regular season contest Friday, Oct. 20, against host Greensville County High School (3-3).

Windsor closes the regular season at home against Southampton High School (2-5) on Friday, Oct. 27, at 7 p.m.

“Between the injuries and being young, we have to get better in that area, and last week, we got a couple guys back, and we started putting it back together, so hopefully for these next couple of games, they’ll keep the same showing coming out,” DuBois said. “We haven’t had any injuries this week, so everything’s looking in a positive direction for me, and the kids are excited about it as well.”

The coach said that where the Dukes were sitting as of Thursday, Oct. 19, they were one slot away from the playoffs.

“So if we can get back healthy and stay healthy for the rest, we may be able to squeeze in there,” he said. “We’re hoping we can.”