The Patrick Henry Patriots are looking to improve on a record that has them 10-11 over the last two seasons
Team: Patrick Henry (Ashland, Virginia)
2015-2016 Record: 4-6 (No Playoffs)
Head Coach: Bryan Davis
Mascot: Patriots (Blue, white, and red)
It’s been a difficult stretch for the Patriots over the last few seasons. Two years ago Patrick Henry finished near the bottom of Conference 16 with a 2-8 record. In 2014 the Patriots finished 6-5 and made the playoffs for the first time in seven seasons. Last year Patrick Henry slightly reverted back to their old ways finishing 4-6 and narrowly missing the playoffs. The Patriots started the season on a three-game winning streak and were near the top of the Capital District. Patrick Henry dropped five of their next six games and ended up dropping off the map and out of the playoff picture.
Coach Bryan Davis has been at the helm of the Patrick Henry Patriots for three seasons and has compiled a record of 12-19 thus far. The Patriots have a boatload of talent coming back across both sides of the ball this season. For the defense, the Patriots are starting all new linebackers at the second level. On the offensive side of the ball, the offensive line and the running backs remain unchanged. The main concerns for the offense is whether or not they’ll be able to keep turnovers to a minimum and converting on red zone opportunities. Turnovers are the reason the Patriots couldn’t get it going last year and they’re committed to not duplicating the same results.
Patrick Henry enjoyed their best offensive season yet under Coach Davis last year averaging a little more than 25 points per game. That was good enough for fifth in the Capital District with Highland Springs leading the way. Over the first three games Patrick Henry averaged 43 points per game as the offense was rolling on all cylinders. During their 1-7 stretch the Patriots only put up 17 points per game. Most of those losses were within reaching distance of pulling out, but turnovers showed up early and often.
Patrick Henry has two capable quarterbacks in Hunter Hart (JR QB 6-1 180) and Travious Tyler (SR QB 5-10 180) who return to the field for another season under center. Kaleb Smith (JR WR 6-3 180), Parker Davis (SR WR 6-1 187), and Rashad Mallory (SR WR 6-0 180) round out the wide receivers for Patrick Henry. Mallory will also join Justin McCowan (SR RB 5-10 195) and Josh Guerrero (SR RB 5-8 173) in the backfield for the Patriots. Bradley Gholson (SR DE 6-1 230) leads the way for an offensive linemen unit where the short man is exactly at six-feet even. Gholson returns for his senior season and is a three-year starter across the offensive line.
“With all starters returning on the offensive line and in the backfield, we should have the experience to improve in offensive production. We have experience at receiver that could give us big play potential through the air,” stated Coach Davis.
The defense for the Patriots had their greatest season since Coach Davis arrived. Patrick Henry allowed 25 points per game on the season. In terms of defensive efficiency in the Capital District, the Patriots finished only behind Highland Springs, Henrico, and Lee-Davis. During their 1-7 stretch Patrick Henry allowed 27 points per game. The Patriots have to be better on defense to compete in Conference 16 and appear to have every inclination to do so.
Hunter Hart, Justin McCowan, and Rashad Mallory are your starting linebackers on the season. This is an unproven bunch and will be forced to gel early in order for the defense to thrive. The defensive line is undersized at different spots. Leading the way for the Patriots will be Bradley Gholson and Davon Carter (SR DE 5-8 230). Kaleb Smith, Josh Guerrero, and Rashad Mallory highlight a defensive back unit that only lost one senior to graduation. Devyn Coles (SO DB 5-10 165) adds depth to an extremely talented secondary for Patrick Henry.
“We could be better in spots, but there will be some unproven entities that will have to play better than their experience level in order for us to be successful,” said Coach Davis.
Player(s) to watch: The Patriots lost a lot of good talent at the end of this past season in players like Brandon Braxton, Keith Jackson, and Conall Kavanagh. Only two players currently on the Patriot’s roster made All-Conference 16 as first team players last season and that was Bradley Gholson and Davon Carter. Carter is a bit undersized in terms of height but that’s never stopped him before. The rising senior is entering his third season as a starter on the defensive line and, alongside Gholson, is a stout Division II product. Both will cover the defensive line opposite of each other this season; however, Gholson will also assume his position on the offensive line.
In all honesty, there are spots on both the offense and defense that need to be tweaked. Although the Patriots finished under .500 this past season there’s no reason to go burning your Kaleb Smith jerseys. Coach Davis is only in his fourth year and Patrick Henry is in the process of getting its roster when it needs to be. The Patriots have an extremely light schedule until the middle of the season where business starts to pick up against Hanover, Henrico, and Varina. Barring a breakdown, Patrick Henry should have no problems starting out winning their first five games.
– Brandon Mitchell