Norcom vs. Hopewell (Photo: Lance Hinton/recruit757)
Is an encore in store for Norcom or will Hopewell break its losing streak against the Greyhounds?
Norcom (1-0) at #7 Hopewell (1-0), Friday, 7:00 p.m.
-Hopewell is ranked #7 within the recruit804 Power Ten and #5 in the Richmond Times-Dispatch top 10.
Last Meeting: Norcom and Hopewell have formed quite the rivalry over the last three seasons that has watched the Greyhounds take 2-of-3 contests from the Blue Devils over said time span. Last year’s Region 3A semi-final matchup was the most competitive game of the series thus far. Jacoby Smith and Casaan Dixon were able to lead Norcom to a 14-12 victory after a screen pass from Daniel Grier to Kadarius Singleton left Hopewell a yard short with just seconds left in the fourth quarter. The loss erased the Blue Devil’s chances as repeating as Class 3 state champions and propelled Norcom to a Region 3A region final matchup against Phoebus where the Greyhounds suffered a 7-6 defeat.
Hopewell Key Players: Robert Briggs (2021 RB 5-9 186), Trey Henderson (2021 RB/DB 5-11 193), Reggie Ruffin (2021 DE 6-2 194), and Keyon Williams (2020 DE 6-0 220).
Norcom Key Players: Jacoby Smith (2020 QB 6-0 208), Demonte Dunlap (2021 RB5-8 155), Shyheim Cannon (2021 WR 6-0 160), and Karon Prunty (2020 DB 6-2 180).
Last Time Out (Norcom): It was difficult imaging a future without Norcom former head coach Larry Archie on the sidelines, but it’s now become a reality as Robert Jackson was able to get his first win last Saturday.
The Greyhounds hosted Meziah Scott and Petersburg over the weekend where Norcom was able to come away with a 42-22 victory. The victory was extremely important as the Greyhounds dropped their first game of the season last year to Hopewell. The last time Norcom was able to crack the 40-point plateau to open a season was in 2014 against Lakeland.
Last Time Out (Hopewell): Hopewell also looked spectacular in week one action traveling out to Bailey Field to take on Tabb. The Blue Devils have now taken on the Tigers for five-consecutive seasons winning every battle in the process.
Hopewell ran the ball with precision as the Blue Devils were able to accumulate almost 500 yards of total offense with most of it coming on the ground. Tabb has now allowed an average of 39 points per contest against the Blue Devils over the last five years and it has become increasingly difficult for the Tigers to put points up on Hopewell.
Breaking down the offense
Norcom Possession: The Greyhounds are so diversified when it comes to the offensive side of the ball. Last week, Norcom exploited Petersburg for all the things it really does well. Jacoby Smith put on a show going 13-of-16 for 230 yards and four touchdowns against the Crimson Waves defense. Honestly, performances like this are just another day in the office for the starting quarterback who has grown accustomed to showing up when it matters the most.
Shyheim Cannon showed up big on the receiving end pulling in 85 yards on four receptions and a touchdown on the afternoon. The rushing attack for the Greyhounds could be an area emphasis despite the playmaking ability of Reggie Ruffin and the Blue Devils defensive front. Demonte Dunlap led Norcom last week in rushing carrying the ball 12 times for 41 yards and one touchdown as well as picking up a 33-yard touchdown reception. However, Karon Prunty is without a shadow of a doubt the ex-factor for the Greyhounds in all phases of the game. Prunty scored on offense and special teams against Petersburg last week. He was also the one that collected the tackle on Singleton last year that ended the season for Hopewell.
Hopewell Possession: It’s been difficult finding a dynamic fit behind center after the departure of Greg Cuffey a few years ago. Daniel Grier filled in as well as he could last season and was
a great fit for the Blue Devils. Two weeks ago we got to see Joseph Eliades and Playford Hart take snaps out of the backfield as both were able to orchestrate drives that ended in a touchdown for the Blue Devils.
However, it was the running game that set the precedence for everything else to fall in place at Hopewell. Robert Briggs rushed for 114 yards on 10 carries and two touchdowns while Trey Henderson rushed for 115 yards on six carries and one touchdown. Don’t expect the Blue Devils to change up much on the offensive side of the ball. Both teams possess the ability to move the ball through the air and on the ground quite efficiently. Henderson rushed for 117 yards in last year’s playoff matchup and Grier passed for 142 yards. Albeit slim, chances will still be there to convert for the Blue Devils.
Verdict: Quietly, this is one of the better contests on Friday night as there aren’t many inter-region matchups this week (804 versus 757). The combination of Briggs and Henderson has the possibility of being too much coming out of the backfield for the Greyhounds. At the same, even though the Greyhounds lost key pieces coming into the regular season, their passion and energy to start the season is at an all-time high. In the last five seasons the Blue Devils have only lost seven contests at home. The only programs to beat Hopewell at home multiple times over said time span are Dinwiddie, Thomas Dale, and Norcom.
Final Score (Brandon): Norcom, 21-13
– Brandon Mitchell