Kecoughtan QB Marvin McCue and Warwick QB Derick Nixon (Photos: Danny Haymond and Andy Hilton/recruit757)
Warwick (3-3) v. Kecoughtan (1-5): Can Warwick extend winning streak or will Kecoughtan get its second wind?
by Brandon Mitchell, recruit757
Warwick (3-3) v. Kecoughtan (1-5), Todd Stadium, Thursday at 7:00 p.m.
Last Meeting: A lot of prospects that were on the field the last time these two teams matched up won’t be on the field this time.
The Warriors were on a four-game winning streak when they met up against the Raiders last season. Warwick had just come off of a two-point loss to Heritage and was looking to get back into the win column. It was a Jonathan Melvin touchdown that put Kecoughtan up for good with 4:03 left in the fourth frame. A successful two-point attempt gave the Warriors a 22-19 lead the Raiders weren’t able to come back from.
Last Time Out (Kecoughtan): The Warriors were finally able to break their six-game losing streak dating back to last season by knocking off the Patriots 27-14 last week.
The match up wasn’t as close as the final score indicated based on the fact that Kecoughtan gave up 14 points in the fourth quarter after dropping 27 before Denbigh even sniffed the scoreboard. Adam Hatcher got the nod in the first two quarters while Leroy Bracey entered in the third quarter and gave the Warriors a huge lift. It was great to see the Warriors offense dictate the pace of play as opposed to the other way around.
Last Time Out (Warwick): If last week’s game ended at halftime then the Raiders would’ve suffered a seven-point loss at the hands of Menchville.
The Monarchs played a flawless game on the defensive side of the ball in the first half which led to Warwick coughing the ball up four times. However, Menchville was unable to capitalize on the influx of turnovers which made it easier for the Raiders to force a comeback after halftime. Derick Nixon, Elijah Smith, and Jalen Coles led the way for Warwick in the second half. The win was clutch as it keeps Kings Fork and Smithfield at bay; for now.
Kecoughtan Key Players: Marvin McCue (2022 QB 5-10), Adam Hatcher (2021 RB 6-0 175), Leroy Bracey (2021 RB 5-9 150), and Jason Freeman (2021 LB/RB 5-9 175).
Warwick Key Players: Derick Nixon (2021 QB), Elijah Smith (2021 WR 6-0 167), Bryce Buchanan (2023 RB), and Kysaun Jones (2022 WR).
How will Kecoughtan follow up?
After last Thursday’s game against the Patriots, Coach Coley noted that his win over Denbigh was key for the confidence of his men as was watching the ball go into the end zone. If you ever wondered what it would look like if the Warriors were to ever finally able to get their talented pieces working as one unity that time came last week. Despite it coming against the Patriots, Marvin McCue and the offensive side of the ball didn’t make many mistakes.
And Kecoughtan’s defense was just a tipped pass and a fourth down stop away from serving the Patriots their 20th shut out in less than six seasons. It was great to watch Adam Hatcher and Leroy Bracey work it unison at different parts on the game to ensure the offense was in correct position to put the game at reach in the second half. Also, the ability of D.J. Cone to create space on the outside put a lot of stress on the secondary of the Patriots. The blueprint shouldn’t change against the Warriors this Thursday. If anything, it may be time to see a little more Bracey than usual.
How will it be for Warwick this time?
It doesn’t matter who you place in the box as a player to watch when scouting the Raiders because it’s never the same person during each outing. Warwick received a solid day out of starting quarterback Derick Nixon last week against Menchville who was able to pass for 133 yards, rush for 95 yards, and picked up three total touchdowns on the evening. Nixon is always a player to keep your eyes on, but after him, who can you expect to make an impact?
Elijah Smith is most definitely a person of interest on the offensive side of the ball. Smith was able to collect a touchdown through the air and one on the ground against Denbigh last week. Kysaun Jones has showed up in spurts throughout the first half of the season and if he’s not getting it done at wide receiver, he’s getting it done on special teams. Freshman sensation Bryce Buchanan showed up at the HRYF Camp over the off-season and thought no one noticed.
But we noticed.
His speed and vision first showed up on display during the first game of the season after taking a hand off 56 yards to the house for his first-ever varsity touchdown against Denbigh. Buchanan then gave Heritage a taste of what’s to come over the next three years rushing for 154 yards on 29 carries and two touchdowns. All-in-all, there’s no telling who is going to step up for the Raiders, but it’ll be important for Warwick to assert itself early and not play down to the level of the Warriors if they come out flat.
X-Factor: Leroy Bracey (2021 RB 5-9 150)
If you ever get a chance to travel to Hopewell and watch the Blue Devils play this season make sure you keep an eye on starting running back Robert Briggs. He’s a shifty, manipulative running back that allows his speed to guide him to a gap and then he shifts into a second gear that’s faster than his initial one.
Leroy Bracey is a lesser version of Robert Briggs and I say that with the utmost respect. Bracey didn’t touch the ball in the first half against the Patriots last week. However, he finished with 84 yards on nine carries and one touchdown for his troubles. A week prior against Gloucester, he led the team in rushing with 47 yards on 11 carries and against Bethel he has was inactive. This is a prospect that is slowly getting incorporated back into the offense and can easily be the best running back on the field come Thursday if the Warriors offensive line gives him a chance.
Verdict: Each week we seem to be having this same conversation about whether or not the talent level matches the effort for Kecoughtan. The Warriors are in win-now mode and they have to be willing to risk it all every week they step foot on the field.
However, Warwick is on the same chapter Gloucester was a few weeks ago coming into Darling Stadium. The Raiders are currently on a two-game winning streak heading into a huge matchup with Phoebus next week.
But their match up with the Phantoms is the furthest thing from their mind at the moment. Staying ahead of Kings Fork and within shouting distance of Hampton in the Region 4A rankings is the only thing Warwick should be thinking about. The Raiders have enough to take this one, unless Leroy Bracey, Adam Hatcher, and James Mozelle have something to say about it.
– Brandon Mitchell