Eastern View High School looks to continue winning ways in 10th year
It’s been 10 years since Eastern View High School first took the field, and the Cyclones are looking to continue the success they’ve had on the gridiron to mark their anniversary.
After finishing last year 12-1, 6-0 in the Battlefield District, the Cyclones lost to Lafayette 48-21 in the Group 4A state quarterfinals.
Despite losing some key contributors, the Cyclones look poised for another dominant run.
“I think we’ve had a good camp, the kids have worked really hard and we have a lot of good competition,” EVHS head coach Greg Hatfield said.
Gone are starting quarterback Eddie Russell and Justin Pollard at running back, Desmond Brock and Blake Hamilton from the offensive line, Lenny Peters on the d-line and Cameron Woodward and Logan Jenkins at outside linebacker.
However, the Cyclones still retain their hallmark of team speed and strength on both the offensive and defensive lines.
Replacing Russell will be either junior Matt Lowry or sophomore Till Butler.
“They’re both doing a good job learning the offense,” Hatfield said. “They both have a lot of similarities. Matt’s a little more experienced but they both bring different strengths.”
At running back, Tre Holmes offers a straightforward running style while Jalen Veeney provides the explosive speed EVHS is known for.
Speaking of speed, senior D’Ago Hunter will play a multitude of roles on offense, allowing the
“I feel like we have pretty good team speed,” Hatfield said.
Speed doesn’t matter if the running backs can’t find holes to run through, and that’s where Eastern View’s experience line comes into play. On offense, Kyle Smith, Jeff Stallings and Adam Lillard are returning starters. On defense, the line is anchored by Avery Sites, David Dennings-Leavell and Garrett Robinson.
“We have some big guys, we have some fast guys,” Hatfield said. “It’s trying to cater what they do well, so we’re still trying to figure that out.”
The linebacking corps is one that Hatfield calls the biggest he’s had in his 10-year tenure as head coach. Jacob Ashwell, Parris Owen and Zach Brown will look to continue on the linebacker legacy EVHS has established in its first decade.
Cameron Spangler, Hunter, Noah Proctor, Cody Howard, Cullen King and Aaron Henson will patrol the defensive backfield for the Cyclones this season.
EVHS opens its season against crosstown rivals Culpeper Aug. 25, getting the Cannonball Classic out of the way early. It’s the first time the two teams have faced off in the opener since the Cyclones’ very first game 10 years ago.
Hatfield says he likes getting the rivalry game out of the way, noting that it’s important to the community but now it’s not even a district game between the two foes.
“After this, we can go back to cheering for each other, like we should,” Hatfield said.
Hatfield said that one of the most gratifying aspects of the 10 years of Cyclone football is the amount of quality young men that have come through the program, and who have returned to visit and to offer advice.
“The thing I like about it, is that during midnight madness and summer camp we’ve had a whole host of kids coming through,” Hatfield said. “I like that we’re seeing those guys and they want to be involved with the program.”
The Cyclones have had just one losing season in 10, and have only missed the playoffs a few times in their existence. While that can be an indicator of success, the better measure is how many players have continued onto college and have graduated, Hatfield said.
“I like what we’ve turned into as a program,” Hatfield said. “I think we’ve worked really hard to do our best and to do the right thing for others. I like seeing the older guys come through and see that they’re successful now.”
CCHS relies on line as it enters new district
Culpeper County High School’s offensive line looks to harken back to the days of the “farm boys” who helped pave the way to a state title in 1999.
Watching the Blue Devils practice, it’s hard to miss the humanity who will make up Culpeper’s lines.
It’s the culmination of lot of hard work put in during the offseason and during training camp, head coach Ken Wakefield said.
He expects to run the ball regardless of the size of the line, but admits that it’s easier when you have some road graders leading the way.
“I would like to run the ball well regardless of who is up there,” Wakefield said. “We’re still figuring things out up front, no position is locked down. We’re bigger than what we were the past couple of years. Hopefully we have some guys that can get up on you and move you around a little bit.”
One of the bigger newcomers is transfer Taha Ali, who looks to be in the mix for a starting position on the line.
“He’s coming out, he’s doing great things, it’s just a matter of him understanding our scheme,” Wakefield said.
The line will be protecting returning sophomore quarterback Eric Wilson. Wilson, 6-foot-3-inches, earned the starting job as a freshman and now has a experience under his belt.
“We’re looking for Eric to do some good things,” Wakefield said. “We asked him to do a lot last year, now it’s just a matter of fine tuning and adjusting things.”
Wakefield said that anytime you start a freshman, you’re asking a lot, but Wilson responded and the head coach expects the game to slow down a bit for the sophomore.
He’ll have a variety of weapons at his disposal, including four-year running back Gabe Frye, Adam Mifsud and Jacob Douglass in the backfield. At wide receiver, Wilson has three tall targets in Capone Hoffman, Armani Hoffman and Nazier McDonald.
“We have some threats to throw the ball to,” Wakefield said. “They’re good sized kids.”
Defensively, Wakefield expects the line to be solid again for the Blue Devils, who finished 3-8 last year.
“I think we’re going to be solid up front this year,” Wakefield said. “We have a good group of guys, we’re just continuing to work out the kinks.”
CCHS is entering the season in a new district, the Northwestern, and have a tough schedule once again. Wakefield said he’s simply looking to see his team improve each week.
“I think the biggest thing is our guys continuing to get better week in and week out,” Wakefield said. “We’re going to focus on us, not on what everyone else is doing. We’re just going to take it one game at a time and continue to get better.”