A.J. Luster vs. #5 Javoni Hales in 2018 (Photo: Kim McCaffrey/recruit757)
Bethel (1-1) at Menchville (1-0): Can the Bruins defense strike gold for second-consecutive week?
by Brandon Mitchell, recruit757
Bethel (1-1) vs. Menchville (1-0) at Todd Stadium, Thursday, September 12, 7:00 pm
Last Meeting: Fortunately this is a match up we get the luxury of seeing each season, but this year has a different type of emotion tethered to it. Last year when these two teams matched up, the Monarchs were in the midst of trying to shake a seven-game losing streak. The Bruins would go on to extend said losing streak to eight games after knocking off Menchville 21-12. For Bethel, the 21 points put on the board by the offense was the second highest point total on the season with the highest being against the Patriots later on.
Last Time Out (Menchville): Week one was important for the Monarchs in making sure they were able to set the tone for at least the first half of the season. It’s true when they say it’s not how you start, but how you finish. However, getting off to a solid start sure can set the foundation for if setbacks begin to creep later in the year. Menchville came out the first week of the season and blanked Granby by a score of 21-0. It was the first time since 1989 that Menchville was able to shut out its first opponent of the season.
Last Time Out (Bethel): The Bruins are playing on a short week after knocking off Heritage at Todd Stadium last Saturday. It was a much needed victory after being walked over at home the Saturday prior by a stout Maury program. The 56 points surrendered to the Commodores was the most given up by a Bethel defense since Hampton dropped 63 in 2010. At the same time, Bethel has now won two of its last three match ups against the Hurricanes including the last two.
Menchville Key Players: Javoni Hales (2021 RB 5-10 205), Seven Warren (2022 DT 6-4 305), and Nathaniel Jones (2020 LB 5-8 182).
Bethel Key Players: Caleb Beard (2021 QB 6-0 175), Isaiah Smith (2021 WR 6-2 200), Jackson Griffiths (2020 OL/DL 6-1 285).
Menchville Possession: The Monarchs played some of the cleanest football we saw to open the football season a few weeks ago. It was apparent that Granby wasn’t ready for the balanced attack Menchville threw in its direction. The Monarchs are predicated on establishing a dominant rushing attack and then letting the pieces fall where they may.
Against the Comets, Javoni Hales was able to rush for 215 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Peninsula District after the first week of the season. Shamon Maynard was efficient when he needed in the passing game connecting with freshman Kyle Garlick for the game’s only score through the air.
However, the Monarchs will have to proceed with caution against a Bethel defense that held the Hurricanes to -30 rushing yards on 18 carries last Saturday. It’s a defense that really found its footing after being carved up on the ground and through the air against Maury. Despite knowing this, the expectation will still be that the offense will be facilitated through Javoni Hales.
Bethel Possession: The Bruins possess a slight more balanced attack than the Monarchs. Its running game was nonexistent against Maury during their week one matchup with only exception being Caleb Beard in zone read situations. The passing game was a big factor for the Bruins, but it was only able to manufacture seven points on the day courtesy of Isaiah Smith.
Saturday was a much better showing for the running game which produced over 200 yards on the ground as well as only two touchdowns on the day for Bethel. Beard established a decent rapport with his receivers completing 7-of-15 passes for 108 yards. This is a trend that’s expected to continue on Thursday night.
Verdict: Granby is a program that is still figuring things out under Larry Archie, so it was expected that the Monarchs would have success, definitely in the rushing department. Javoni Hales is arguably one of the most talented running backs in the Peninsula District as well as the entire region for that matter. The question is whether or not the Bruins defense can contain Hales over the course of four quarters of play.
Bethel already proved on Saturday afternoon that its defense may be better than originally advertised. Jamari Mann came up huge in crunch time for the Bruins as they were able to hold Heritage to seven points from the second-consecutive season. Bethel is littered with a few more play makers on the offensive side of the ball including A.J. Luster and Devoun Gaffney. The question for the Monarchs defense is whether or not they can squeeze the orange without letting it fall apart in their hands. This will take attention to detail for a full 48 minutes.
Final Score (Brandon): Bethel, 28-13.
– Brandon Mitchell