Thomas Dale ATH DeAngelo Gray (Photo: Mike Caudill/recruit757)
Phillip Allen, Crishaun Saunders anchors defense as Thomas Dale cruises over Granby at Powhatan Field
by Brandon Mitchell, recruit804
The Knights entered Powhatan Field on Thursday night severely depleted at multiple positions, however; quarterback has been their position of need over the course of the season. Courtenay Burrell went down with an injury against Hopewell last Friday which allowed Coach Kevin Tucker to rely on DeAngelo Gray to play quarterback against Granby. With help from Chris Tyree and the Knights defense, Thomas Dale was able to walk out of Norfolk with a crushing defeat over the Comets, 30-10.
Thomas Dale was able to drop 20 points in the first half on Granby with a combination of DeAngelo Gray, A.J. Chavis and Chris Kuda. Chris Tyree led the way on the ground for the Knights picking up 103 rushing yards on 15 carries while DeAngelo Gray added 49 yards on 10 carries and one touchdown. Thomas Dale was able to shut down the Granby passing attack holding Sam Gallardo to 5-of-16 completions for 39 yards and two interceptions on the day. Despite giving up a late touchdown to Simon Atkins on a three-yard run in the fourth quarter, the Knights defense held itself to their usual standard displayed week-in and week-out.
“Defense stepped up big time,” Coach Tucker stated. “We told them all week that they were going to have to play a huge role and, on our defense, we didn’t start any of our regular starters. We let those guys practice three days of offense and pulled some guys off of defense so we could focus on the offense. The guys that filled in did a really good job.”
Thomas Dale was able to strike first midway through the first quarter on a 10-yard touchdown to put the Knights up by seven points. After a Granby punt, DeAngelo Gray connected on a rare pass to A.J. Chavis for 25 yards that went for a touchdown putting Thomas Dale up at the top of the second quarter, 14-0. At the end of the second quarter we were privy to the range of third-year kicker Chris Kuda. The Knights drive ran out of gas at the 1:51 mark of the second quarter and Kuda was able to step back and drill a 44-yard field goal to put Thomas Dale up 17-0.
After a Granby fumble with 1:22 left in the second quarter, Thomas Dale got within range for Kuda to knock down his second field goal this one coming from 38 yards to put the Knights up 20-0 before halftime. Kuda would connect on his third-consecutive and final field goal of the evening from 26 yards out with 8:05 left in the third quarter to put the Knights up 23-0. The Comets would eventually get a field goal themselves with 2:12 left in the third quarter, but their celebration was spoiled by Crishaun Saunders who picked off Sam Gallardo on the Comets next possession.
A.J. Chavis would turn Granby’s mishap into fortune with an 83-yard touchdown run on the Knights next possession to put Thomas Dale up 30-3. Simon Atkins finally put the ball in the end zone from three yards out on the Comets’ final possession of the game to give Granby something positive to look back on when they review the tape.
Thomas Dale: Injuries have absolutely decimated the Knights this season and it started all the way back in the off-season when they were scrimmaging for the regular season. Thomas Dale had a number of players ready to go this week against Granby, but opted against returning certain players in the fairness of not rushing his prospects back. It turned out to be a very smart decision because they were able to give some reserve players important minutes down the stretch that could prove valuable during playoff time.
The Knights didn’t have to do much against the Comets on Thursday night and despite the game playing extremely ugly, a win is a win and they can rest easy taking that back to Thomas Dale over the weekend. Unfortunately, the Knights premiere offensive lineman in Berk Snow went down at the conclusion of the contest with a lower leg injury. Hopefully he’ll be ready to go for their opening region quarterfinal matchup in a few weeks.
Granby: The Comets got beat in all three phases of the game on Thursday night against Thomas Dale. Sam Gallardo tossed two interceptions and the Granby offense lost two fumbles. The defense gave up 30 total points which included nine-consecutive points by kicker Chris Kuda, but not to include a DeAngelo Gray kickoff return for a touchdown that was called back.
For most of the game the Comets weren’t able to move the ball on the Knights with the exception of a few bursts by Simon Adkins that put Granby in scoring range twice on the day. Be that as it may, the Comets didn’t give up and they didn’t back down when they had every reason to based on how the season has unfolded. Albeit inefficient, Gallardo looked confident in the pocket. Atkins was unstoppable at times running the ball and Katron Evans was a disruptive force in the backfield on multiple plays. Sometimes you have to look past the loss to find hidden gems in a team’s effort. The Comets brought their heart, and although it didn’t carry them to a victory, it gained them a lot of respect on the evening.
FINAL: Thomas Dale 30, Granby 10
Granby (0-9): The Comets will conclude their season with a tough matchup against Maury (8-1). Last year the Comets suffered defeat at the hands of Maury, 26-21.
Thomas Dale (7-2): The Knights will conclude their season next week against Prince George (4-5). The Royals lost last year to Thomas Dale, 49-14.
– Brandon Mitchell