Editor’s note: Throughout the local high school sports season, Culpeper Times will recognize an â??Athlete of the Weekâ? from one of the sports. This week we are featuring football. At the end of the year the Times will select a male and female athlete at both Culpeper County and Eastern View high schools and recognize them as â??Athlete of the Yearâ? at their respective schools.)
Earlier this week Eastern Viewâ??s football team earned a wealth of All-Conference 22 honors as it prepared for its 4A North second-round playoff game against undefeated Jefferson Forest.
Among the first-team honorees is senior guard Eli Mitchell. This is the third-straight year that Mitchell has earned all-conference and district honors.
â??Weâ??re blessed to have so many players doing well for us this season. There are lots of my teammates among the first and second team selections,â? said Mitchell, a four-year varsity starter for the Cyclones. â??Weâ??ve all essentially grown into our roles on this team and I think thatâ??s helped us be successful. Many of our starters gained lots of early experience and I think that weâ??re peaking at the right time.â?
The Cyclones rushing attack is unparalleled this season with senior running back Kendrick Kube, who earned Offensive Player of the Year for Conference 22 for a second-straight year this week. In addition to Kubeâ??s record setting year, the Cyclones have a dual threat quarterback in junior Josh Stallings and a deep bench as evidenced by last weekâ??s playoff victory over William Fleming.
â??Itâ??s great to have Kendrick and Josh in our backfield. Kendrick is just an amazing back especially once he breaks into the defensive backfield. When he gets past the linebackers heâ??s deadly,â? said Mitchell. â??Josh gives us a great running threat as well as accurate passing down field. Last week, Justin Pollard and Dâ??Ago Hunter stepped up and finished the game for us in the backfield when Kendrick had an injury.â?
Having a running back accumulate 2,428 rushing yards and 40 total touchdowns certainly indicates that thereâ??s some highly effective blocking going on.
â??We have a great running back. We also have excellent chemistry on the line. We know each other so well that we instinctively know what weâ??re doing on the field,â? said Mitchell. â??Any season has its adversities, but Iâ??m very optimistic about how far we can go in the playoffs.â?
This weekâ??s opponent, Jefferson Forest is well-coached, undefeated, and it has a deceptive running game that can make a defense pay if it is not disciplined and decisive.
â??As long as we stick to our offensive game plan we should match up well,â? said Mitchell. â??If our defense can limit their big plays and create turnovers we will be fine.â?
The deeper a team moves into the playoffs its talent will eventually meet equal talent, size and focus.
â??You canâ??t play football just for yourself— everything has to be rooted in teamwork from the first day,â? added Mitchell. â??What motivates me is the player on either side of me, my teammates.â?
Looking towards the near future Mitchell hopes that his grades and athleticism will provide opportunities at the next level.
â??A few Division III colleges have expressed interest in me including Frostburg State, Shenandoah University and Randolph Macon University,â? said Mitchell.
In his free time, Mitchell enjoys lifting weights and spending time with his family.
â??My family has always supported me in every way,â? commented Mitchell.
One of Mitchellâ??s other great attributes is his impressive full-bread, a look heâ??s had since his middle school years. He also sports a few battle scars from locking helmets with some of the brawniest lads from across the region.
â??I havenâ??t shaved my beard totally off since eighth grade,â? added Mitchell.
The Cyclones (10-1) travel to Jefferson Forest (11-0) this Friday night.
Marshall Conner is a freelance contributor with the Culpeper Times. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.