At the midpoint of the season Eastern View’s football team is in an ideal position, it is undefeated and confident as it steams towards Friday night’s game with cross-town rival Culpeper. The Blue Devils have a bit more to prove with a 2-2 record—a victory on Friday could be a turning point for a team that has improved steadily.
The Blue Devils have won two games at home and played a competitive game with Fauquier over the last three weeks. The Cyclones have soundly beaten three-out-five of its opponents scoring 40 or more points while shutting teams out with an attacking opportunistic defense. The Cyclones two biggest tests came against Chancellor and Sherando. The Cyclones (5-0 overall) topped the Chargers 38-31 in an overtime thriller in week three of the season. The team then traveled to Sherando and won 35-28. The Sherando game was costly for the Cyclones with the loss of its top running back Montrez Orange to a season ending knee injury.
“We are happy to be starting our district play and to be relatively healthy. We always talk about controlling what we can control which is our effort, our responses to events and plays, and our work we put in during the week. I think if that continues to be our focus we can continue to get better as a team,” said Cyclones head coach Greg Hatfield.
If there were any surprises this season for the Cyclones it has been the solid play of Eastern View’s underclassmen.
“We have had a lot of young players step up for us. Jeff Stallings is a freshman starting at center. Blake Leake is our freshman wide receiver and defensive back. Sophomores Adam Lillard on the O-line and Avery Sites on the D-Line have impressed me. Trey Holmes, a sophomore running back and Noah Proctor, a sophomore wide receiver have been positives,” explained Hatfield. “The transitions these young men have made to help contribute are a credit to their work ethic and to the older players being great teachers.”
The loss of a top playmaker can derail a team, but the Cyclones have shown resilience and rallied to support their injured running back.
“Montrez had surgery at UVA, he has begun the recovery process and has already begun talking about working to get ready for next year. I was proud of the way we responded because our players truly care for each other,” said Hatfield. “They are all more concerned about Montrez the young man than the player and how they can help him recover.”
If there is a secret to the Cyclones success aside from its playmakers, big offensive line and team speed it would be the team’s conditioning program. In both of the team’s most hotly contested games—conditioning was a deciding factor. Over the last four years Cyclones stars have cited conditioning as a key to the team’s success.
“We are blessed to have Jordan Nougaret with us. He does an excellent job with our in-season and out of season conditioning program. We began to emphasize this program about four years ago. It has paid off for us many times late in games,” said Hatfield. “Coach J also has done such a great job in our off season program creating an environment where the players are held responsible for attendance and effort, but he’s also created an exciting environment where players want to attend and make each other better. He and our assistant coaches have really done a great job with this program.”
The Cyclones conditioning program has produced players that can play all four quarters at a high level.
“We emphasize developing and building the total athlete with the mindset that we are trying to get them healthy and fit first and foremost and then secondary to that; bigger, faster and stronger for the football season. Our program emphasizes getting baseline numbers for each football player for all the main lifts we do first and then using those numbers to build and develop their body’s energy systems (stability/endurance, strength/muscle hypertrophy and power),” said Nougaret, a certified strength and conditioning coach for the Cyclones. “Each athlete is then given an individualized workout plan for the year. We work on speed and agility, but they are more points of emphasis in the off-season. In-season, we lift twice a week. We are able to quantitatively and qualitatively measure improvement and set goals with each athlete with this program. Each workout also consists of various injury prevention exercises and stretches.”
In addition to the weight room training, the Cyclones condition 3-4 days a week, according to Nougaret. The conditioning includes hill training, speed training, agility training and endurance training. All based on specific goal times that coaches want them to achieve for each conditioning test based on what most college programs require for their respective position group.
“I also have a nutrition plan that I give out to kids per their request that can assist them in gaining or losing weight, depending on what their goals are. Each plan emphasizes getting three square meals a day, plenty of sleep (at least 8 hours) and making sure they are doing the strength and conditioning program,” said Nougaret. “It includes several specific meal plans and a list of high calorie but healthy snacks, protein recommendations and fluid recommendations to prevent dehydration and muscle cramping.”
On defense the Cyclones have actively attacked the football, getting 11 players into every play.
“Coach Fettig, Francese, Stanley, and Tricarico do a great job of pushing fundamentals with our players and putting them in positions to be successful. Our players have done a great job of buying into the system,” said Hatfield.
The Culpeper Blue Devils have improved each week. A duo of playmakers in the Devils receiving corps led by seniors Blake Jenkins and Malik Roy has given Culpeper an effective scoring threat. The Devils are also employing a two quarterback system with freshman Eric Wilson and Jenkins that appears to be working.
“They run the football much better than they are given credit for. They are a very hard team to try to defend. Culpeper head coach Ken Wakefield does a nice job of creating the match ups that he wants and getting the ball in his playmakers hands. They are fundamentally sound on defense. They get a solid push with their d-line and their linebackers pursue well,” said Hatfield about his Friday night opponents. “We have been fortunate in the past and realize that has nothing to do with the game this year. It will take our best effort to make this a great game and compete with them as we know they will be very well prepared.”
Look for both Culpeper teams to improve each week and make some waves come playoff time.
“I think that we have made some progress within our offense each week. Eric and Blake have done a nice job running the offense at different times within the game. I think we actually have three quarterbacks that could be the guy at any given time. We also have Capone Hoffman who is really starting to come on strong as a WR,” said Culpeper head coach Ken Wakefield. “I think our run game has gotten better each week. We made a couple adjustments after week one, our OL has been doing a good job up front opening holes for our backs. I feel that we need to continue to run the ball to be successful as we move forward in the season.”
Our defense has showed some signs of being good, but we need to be more consistent,” added Wakefield. “EVHS is a very good football team. They are sound in all phases of the game. They have a bunch of weapons and do a nice job of controlling the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. We have to play mistake free football.”
“We talk to our players all the time about it is not who we play… but how we play. We cannot control our opponent we can only control ourselves. If we concentrate on who we are playing the season becomes a roller coaster full of ups and downs, but by concentrating on how we play where we can improve each week.”
Look for an exciting game this Friday night when the Cyclones travel across town to Broman Field.
Marshall Conner is a freelance contributor for the Culpeper Times. You may reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org