Granby QB Sam Gallardo (Photo: Joe Barnes/recruit757)
The Thomas Dale Knights want an uneventful trip while Granby is desperately searching for answers
Thomas Dale (6-2) vs. Granby (0-8) Thursday, 7:00 p.m. at Powhatan Field, Norfolk
by Brandon Mitchell, recruit757
Sekou Wilson and the Granby Comets have been down in the dumps at least once prior to the 2018 season. In 2014, the Comets were able to avoid their first winless season since 1986 by knocking off Maury during the final contest of the season. It was an awful showing for Granby, but it was the first season for Coach Wilson therefore growing pains were expected. Last week, Churchland made matters worse after knocking off Granby on the road 17-10. This week it would appear that there’s a huge chance that the Comets hit rock bottom against the visiting Thomas Dale Knights.
Last season, the Knights welcomed the Comets to Thomas Dale in a match up where they were completely obliterated by the Knights. The 55 points put on the board by Thomas Dale at the time were the most points allowed by Granby since allowing 57 points by Lake Taylor during the 2015 season. Granby has an offense that’s only putting up six points per contest this season. Their season-high from a point’s perspective is only 16 points which was thwarted by the 67 points stamped on the defense by visiting rival Booker T. Washington. Despite Thomas Dale bring riddled with injuries this season, they’ve still been able to mow down 75-percent of the opponents they’ve lined up against this season.
Hopewell was the last opponent to try Coach Kevin Tucker and his men. It took everything the Knights had in the tank to walk out of Hopewell with a win on Friday night. This included: losing their fourth quarterback, going into double overtime and having to drop a season-high 49 points on Hopewell’s defense. What we learned the most about Thomas Dale on Friday night is that the Knights are not going to let anything stand in the way of them getting to their ultimate goal which is a Division 6 state championship.
Thomas Dale was tested thoroughly last week, but it wasn’t the first time they’ve been tested this season. Just a week prior they barely escaped Petersburg with a four-point victory. They’ve beaten Matoaca by seven points this season, lost to Dinwiddie by seven points and also lost to L.C. Bird by 16 points. Everything the Knights have gone through this season is preparing them for what could be one of the most impressive post-season runs we’ve seen in years. Currently, Thomas sits in the third-seed with a Region 6B power rating of 27.571 right above Cosby and Clover Hill. Granby will serve as more preparation for post-season play.
Thomas Dale Key Players: Chris Tyree (2020 RB 5-10 175), Courtenay Burrell (2020 QB 5-9 155), Bryce Carter (2021 DE), DeAngelo Gray (2021 SB/DB 5-8 160), Adam Hall (2019 LB/RB 5-11 217) and Antonio Goins (2020 WR 6-0 175).
Starting quarterback Courtenay Burrell was injured last week against Hopewell. His status at this point is unknown, however; when he’s in the game the offense becomes that much more balanced. DeAngelo Gray did an amazing job filling in for Burrell as the Knights were able to deploy a Wildcat offensive set that was three weeks post-production before Coach Tucker pulled the tag off his purchase. Gray rushed for 83 yards and three touchdowns as well as returned a fumble 85 yards for a touchdown on Friday night. Should Burrell have to sit out against Granby, look of more of what we saw out of Gray on Friday night.
The Knights could also receive a gift this Friday with Jasiah Williams being upgraded as a day-to-day prospect per Coach Tucker. This news was made available last week, but Williams wasn’t a participant in the Hopewell contest. Prior to his injury Williams was inserted at quarterback, but his skill set also extends to wide receiver and defensive back.
Granby Key Players: Katron Evans (2021 DT 6-4 270), Steven Harris (2019 RB 5-7 180) and Shannon Mason (2020 WR 5-11 160).
When you think of Granby football, the first person that comes to mind nowadays is starting defensive tackle Katron Evans. The Comets haven’t had a lot to be excited for this season, but Evans has been a solid contributor on both the offensive and defensive line. It’s hard to fully appreciate the value of a player like Evans especially when the defense as a whole is giving up 38 points per contest. However, Evans is only a sophomore and he’s already picked up 24 collegiate offers including: LSU, Clemson, Alabama, Florida, Penn State, Georgia and Oklahoma.
Keys to the Game: Thomas Dale may be slightly depleted, but you wouldn’t be able to tell based on what they’ve been able to accomplish with the cards that have been dealt their way. The Knights have an opportunity to further perfect their Wildcat formation, groom a possible fifth quarterback this season or welcome Courtenay Burrell back from injury this week against Granby. As far as Granby goes, this season has to be taken with a grain of salt. This will only be Coach Wilson’s second losing season at Granby since he arrived in 2014. When you look at all that’s gone wrong with the Comets this season, the only thing you can ask from them on Friday is that at least one thing be executed properly. Granby can lose this can by 40 points. If that happens, Coach Wilson will want to know if it’s because his men had a bad game or if they quit. Let’s hope it’s not the latter.
– Brandon Mitchell