Hampton Crabbers 2019 (Photo: Andy Hilton/recruit757)
Peninsula District Preview Part II: New faces in new places, how will Hampton bounce back from first losing season under Mike Smith?
by Brandon Mitchell, recruit757
For an introduction to the district and a preview of the other five programs in the PD, check out Brandon Mitchell’s run down of Phoebus, Woodside, Kecoughtan, Gloucester and Warwick by clicking here. – AH
Hampton High School
Coach: Mike Smith
2018 Record: 4-6
Mascot: Crabbers (red and white)
2019 Projected Finish (regular season): 6-4
Mike Smith has been on the sidelines coaching the Crabbers for almost 50 seasons now and last year was the first time his program finished the season with a losing record. It was painful to watch Coach Smith miss the first four games of the football season due to having to abide by the constructs of the state retirement system. The Crabbers went 1-3 in the absence of their legendary head coach.
Assistant coach Danny Mitchell took over the reins while Coach Smith was away. However, Coach Mitchell stepped down after the onset of a losing streak which allowed Kenny Gilliam to step in and finish the month of September.
Upon his return, Coach Smith was able to help the Crabbers turn around their dismal beginning winning three of their last six contests. Unfortunately, Hampton would go on to miss postseason play for the first time since 2002 despite dumping Norview to end the season by a score of 29-13. Hampton will have to take advantage of a light draw to start the season against Kecoughtan and George Wythe which should play into the Crabbers favor. After that, it will be up to them to upholster their momentum with Warwick, Woodside, and Phoebus threatening to destroy which has the potential to be a promising start to the regular season.
OFFENSE: The offense for the Crabbers last season wasn’t bad, but it also wasn’t good. Hampton was able to do whatever it needed to do to get in a position to win the tough games last season. The Crabbers offense averaged only 14 points per contest last season which isn’t going to get them out of the Peninsula District let alone carry them deep into the playoffs. They were blanked twice and held to 14 points or less four times last season.
Heading into the regular season the position of importance will be quarterback. The Crabbers have at least three decent quarterbacks on the roster with Max Pietrykowski possessing the most experience out of everyone on the roster. Pietrykowski got the nod to take over last season and showed excellent promise in commanding the Crabbers offense from a dual-threat perspective. If the Crabbers line can hold up as it did last season, it could give Pietrykowski and the running game enough time to make life difficult for more than a few defenses.
DEFENSE: What typically is a dynamite defense for Coach Smith was slightly above average for the Crabbers last year. Considering how bad Hampton started, the defensive side of the ball was really able to pull it together even when the Crabbers weren’t able to come away victorious. Hampton allowed just 12 points per contest last season which was right behind a Woodside programs that advanced to the playoffs. The Crabbers shutout three opponents last season and held eight opponents to 16 or less points.
Robin Littlejohn will help put things in motion for the defensive line this season with help from Samari Smith. Both bring a fair amount of size which will make them extremely difficult to move off the line. When you start to add prospects like Khalil “BeBe” Gunn and Sean Hassell into the mix, you’ll start to notice that this is a defense that has the potential to disrupt a lot of offenses this season. No one is talking about this defense for Hampton and something tells me they aren’t bothered by that at all.
Bethel High School
Coach: Creighton Incorminias
2018 Record: 3-7
Mascot: Bruins (green and gold)
2019 Projected Finish (regular season): 4-6
The Bruins hold a record of 6-14 record over the last two seasons and missed playoff contention for the second-consecutive year. It wasn’t known at the beginning of last season, but William Beverley appeared to be on the bubble so the outcome would largely affect his status for the 2019 football season.
Bethel finished the year with a record of 3-7 and despite losing five-consecutive games near the middle of the season, the Bruins were still in running with games against Denbigh and Heritage left. They were able to come out on top in both contests, but there was nothing more than they could do as the door shut yet again on what could’ve been a promising season.
The departure of William Beverley left the door open for Creighton Incorminias to step in and take over. Incorminias is very familiar with Bethel having played football, wrestled, and coached as assistant before latching onto the head coaching position. He spent three years at Gloucester where he was the head coach from 1996-1998 and is well-versed within the construction of the Peninsula District. Coach Incorminias has a firm grasp on a great deal of talent within the Bruins roster and it will be up to him help mold Bethel back into a contending program.
OFFENSE: It’ll have to be a lot better than last season in order to contend with the middle tier teams in the Peninsula District. The Bruins offense averaged 13 points per game last season hitting the 20-point plateau just three times on the season.
Success will start up front on the offensive line. Jackson Griffiths is widely known within the Peninsula District for how well he performs on the defensive line. However, the All-PD product is also one of the main catalysts on the offensive line. Starting quarterback Caleb Beard had more than a few good moments behind center last season and will be relied upon more this year. He has a couple good pieces on the outside in A.J. Luster and Isaiah Smith to get the ball to which should take a little pressure off of him feeling like he has to do everything. If the Bruins are able finds early continuity their offense may have the stability it didn’t have last season.
DEFENSE: Was a work in progress for the Bruins last season and will be a work in progress this season. Bethel allowed 22 points per contest last season which was right in line with how the Bruins performed a season prior. This year Bethel will have to clamp down especially with Maury coming to Darling Stadium at the end of the week. If the Bruins are able to weather the storm, it will give their defense much needed momentum to drive though Kecoughtan, Menchville, and Heritage.
Bethel will only return three starters on the defensive side of the ball with Jackson Griffiths providing the biggest threat for the defensive line. The secondary unit will be led by another returning starter in Caiden Luster as well as Shawn Garrison and A.J. Luster. The potential is there for Bethel to mature on defense. There’s no better way to test your defensive starters than a matchup with Keandre Lambert and the Commodores to start the season.
Heritage High School
Coach: Fabian Davis
2018 Record: 5-6 (loss to Warhill in Region 4A quarter-final)
Mascot: Hurricanes (maroon and silver)
2019 Projected Finish (regular season): 3-7
Coach Davis now grabs the wheel of a program that finished the season with a record of 5-6 and was able to advance into postseason play before falling in the first-round to Warhill. The Lions have gotten the best of Heritage the last three times these two have matched up. Heritage will get another opportunity to change its fortune against Warhill when both programs matchup at the end of the week for a fourth time in the last three seasons.
If it’s one thing that Massenburg brought to the Hurricanes was a sense of toughness. This is what Fabian Davis has inherited and something he’s helped build throughout his tenure at Heritage. Last season the Hurricanes were a “middle of the road” program finishing behind Warwick, Kecoughtan, Phoebus, and Woodside. No Darius Price and Trevon Faison is enough to make any defensive coordinator like his chances. Be that as it may, Heritage is never a team to be underestimated regardless of what it’s lost.
OFFENSE: The Hurricanes were average on the offensive side of ball last season putting up 17 points per contest which was their worst outing since the 2015 football season. Jaden Wooten-Ellis will try his best to ease the hole left by Darius Price moving on from the program. The rising junior doesn’t have a great deal of experience and it’s expected that Heritage go through some growing pains as he gets a feel for reading defenses consistently.
Roderick Webb and Jaylen Givens are key standouts at wide receiver that could help ease the growing pains while Wooten-Ellis figures it all out. The offensive line is led by Malik Simmons who is at the forefront of a very seasoned and talented unit moving forward for the Hurricanes. All things considered, if Wooten-Ellis can find a sense of early stability with the rest of the offense this unit might surprise a lot of people.
DEFENSE: Heritage wasn’t terrible by any stretch of the imagination on the defensive side of the ball last season. The Hurricanes allowed upward of 22 points per contest and was one that held it together during the evenings where the offense was having a hard time putting points on the board.
The secondary will definitely be an area of strength for the defense headed into the regular season. Expect Roderick Webb and Antwan Cowles to be key fixtures moving forward. Jeremiah Magwood brings maturity to the defensive line and will be looked upon for leadership among the defensive front. This is a defense that isn’t too far away from where it wants to be. Warhill has dropped almost 100 points in three combined meetings on the Heritage defense. The test is about to be in session.
Denbigh High School
Coach: James Stewart
2018 Record: 0-10
Mascot: Patriots (blue, red, and white)
2019 Projected Finish (regular season): 2-8
Marcellus Harris ended his 11-year career at Denbigh as head coach not too long after the end of the regular season. Only Matt Boone spent more years coaching on the sidelines at Denbigh High School that Marcellus Harris.
This year we’ll see a new face on the sidelines taking over for Harris and that’ll be James Stewart. The new Denbigh head coach is no stranger to the Peninsula District. He’s been at Denbigh for going on two years now and currently serves a special education teacher and an assistant track coach. Prior to that, he spent 14 years coaching at Woodside along head coach Danny Dodson.
The Patriots have had a rough go of it over the last three seasons losing 29-of-31 contests as they’re currently riding a 26-game losing streak. It’s clear that Denbigh is currently at rock bottom, but there’s nowhere to go but north from here as Coach Stewart tries to change the narrative associated with Denbigh football.
OFFENSE: Denbigh didn’t have much to offer on the offensive side of the ball last season. The Patriots were able to scored 78 total points on the season and 33 of them came against Gloucester during the fourth week of the season. They were shut out a total of four times and that’s after being shut out on offense eight times in 2017. As previously stated, the narrative needs to change for the Patriots moving forward and it’ll start on the offensive side of the ball.
“The thing that will be the most notable difference to people outside of the program is just the schemes that we will run this year,” Coach Stewart explained. “The team is going from a spread type offense to the Wing-T. What I hope will be different is the athletes will have more team spirit and that moral will spread into the building.”
The offensive line has done a great job during the offseason building continuity and chemistry. Zhamiere Searles and Stephon Silver are the only two seniors on the offensive line while Aaron Randolph, Noah Evans, and Malachi Batie are very solid up front. Enrique Carrasquillio will take over as starting quarterback and will lean on Andre Brown and Robert Simpson at the wide receiver position. The Patriots have three capable running backs in Elliott Johnson, Keonta Jackson, and Renaldre Hodges competing for opportunities.
“The strength of the team will be that our team has worked very hard this off season and our skills I think are in a very good place,” Coach Stewart stated. “Our line is on pace to be very good by the start of the season. The offense is the hardest thing for them to learn and we have been installing it the entire spring the guys are excited and they are ahead of schedule.”
DEFENSE: The Patriots defense last year was one that didn’t really do the offense any favors. Denbigh gave up an average of 43 points per contest including 70 to Dinwiddie, 54 to Phoebus, 49 to Hampton, and 47 to the Wolverines. In terms of efficiency, their defense was one of the worse the Patriots have fielded in the history of their program. The learning curve will be short because Coach Stewart doesn’t plan to go too deep into reconstruction mode on defense.
Denbigh will have a little size up front this season with Noah Evans and Wayne Thomas on the interior while Zhamiere Searles and Osiris Parker serve as the edge rushers. Expect the linebackers to be extremely seasoned in Marion Fogg, Andre Brown, and Nazia Smith. Elliott Johnson will lead the secondary with help from Renaldre Hodges, Kemijion Mitchell, and Khmari Searles.
Changing the culture at Denbigh is no easy feat especially since losing has become embedded into their way of life over the last three seasons. Making sure they’re mentally ready to compete will be just as important as making sure they’re physically ready to compete heading into the regular season.
“I am most concerned about them keeping the excitement and work ethic they have right now,” Coach Stewart said. “I also have to teach them how to prepare for a game week-to-week the way I want them to mentally. What I don’t want them to do is stress about the losses they have had in the past. I just want them to concentrate on one game at a time.”
Menchville High School
Coach: Rodney Taylor
2018 Record: 1-9
Mascot: Monarchs (purple and gold)
2019 Projected Finish (regular season): 2-8
The end of last season marked the end of another head coach in the Peninsula District. The Monarchs ended the season with a 43-0 loss at the hands of Phoebus and Ray Savage felt as though it was time for Menchville to go into a different direction.
Insert Rodney Taylor.
Rodney Taylor inherits a program that has performed under the fence over the last 22 years. Menchville managed to win just one game last season continuing a trend of losing at least seven games per year dating back to the 2001 football season. This season the Monarchs will have to find a way to squeeze the orange without watching it fall apart before its very eyes.
However, areas of concern for the Monarchs this season will include inexperience and depth. These are two issues that seem to plague many teams within the Peninsula District. Coach Taylor has inserted a new offensive scheme which will give the Monarchs a new look heading into the regular season and will rely on veterans to help the young prospects adjust and learn on the fly.
OFFENSE: Versatility as well as the running game will be strengths of the offense this season. The goal will be to use the run to set up the pass in an effort to sustain balance on the offensive side of the ball. This, in turn, should award the Monarchs with more opportunities to put the ball in the end zone in comparison to last season and those before.
Controlling the line of scrimmage will be important for the Monarchs especially with them holding one of the better running backs in the Peninsula District in Javoni Hales. The offensive line returns four starters in Amond Taylor, Breadon Goggins, Cole Richardson, and Mosiah Anderson. There’s a considerable amount depth behind their core in Seven Warren, William Britt, and Shanon Hall. Notables at wide receiver include Thomas Jones, Andre Dawson, and Carlus Curtis none of whom started last season. Quarterback play will be important as Braedon Swords holds a little more starting experience than Kevin White, Jr.
DEFENSE: Was not a point of strength for the Monarchs last season. But at the same time, Menchville only allowed 24 points per contest which was their best defensive output since 1998. The defense will have to rely on its versatility and youth since as well as its size and size to take advantage of opposing teams. This will start up front with the defensive line.
Seven Warren made the decision to transfer from Hampton Roads Academy to Menchville after linking up with starting running back Javoni Hales. The move instantaneously tipped the scales in favor of the Monarchs as far as defensive lines go. Amond Taylor, Breadon Goggins, and Mosiah Anderson fill out the rest of the line for Menchville. Javoni Hales leads the linebacker units and is one of the most impressive athletes in the Peninsula District. Cole Richardson is the only other linebacker that started last season while Alphonso Lawson picks up the final spot. Nate Jones is one of the most intelligent prospects in the secondary for Coach Taylor. He’ll be joined by Thomas Jones, Carlus Curtis, and Andrew Dawson.
– Brandon Mitchell
For a preview of the other five programs in the Peninsula District, check out Brandon Mitchell’s run down of Phoebus, Woodside, Kecoughtan, Gloucester and Warwick by clicking here. – AH