Eastern View lineman Ricky Robinson (File Photo: Andy Hilton/recruit757)
A 42-game regular season winning streak is on the line tonight vs. Courtland
by Jim McGrath, recruitNoVA
Two of the amazing aspects of Eastern View’s 42-game regular season winning streak are a credit to the program’s resiliency and ability to adapt. As the Cyclones prepare for Courtland tonight, coach Greg Hatfield is able to look at his current roster without seeing the ghosts of years past. For Hatfield, the future is now.
“We realize how tough the Battlefield District is, and if we are doing anything but putting our full attention on Courtland we have no chance of being successful,” said Hatfield, whose team is currently ranked sixth in the recruitNoVA.com Top Ten.
Yet the Cyclones are an evolving team, and one who progressed yet one more step last season as they marched through the first 13 games undefeated before losing a nail biter (35-31) to Lake Taylor in the Class 4 state semifinals. But in spite of losing six All-State performers (Matt Lowry, Tré Holmes, Adam Lillard, Avery Sites, Parris Owen and Zach Brown), the Cyclones went back to work, readying to climb the last step and aim for a state championship in 2019.
“We have been blessed here for some time now with some really hard-working kids and assistant coaches,” added the Cyclone coach, whose team has outscored its opponents 284-36 while winning its first six games this season.
Fortunately, for Eastern View, they are tough on both sides of the ball. On offense, Till Butler has taken over for Matt Lowry behind center, but the fire power remains, as evidenced by the 47.3 points per game average.
Speaking of Butler, Hatfield said, “Till has done a great job of managing games and not being frivolous with the football. We preach as most coaches do about the importance of keeping the football when we have it and trying to create turnovers when we don’t.”
Butler has some notable weapons, including receivers Blake Leake, Alex Spangler, Chance Graves and Eli Harris. “All unselfish players. They block hard in the running game and for each other. Their unselfishness allows us to spread the ball out more and get more players involved in our offense,” said Hatfield, whose team celebrated its 100th program win last week, toppling Caroline 59-14. In that game, Butler threw for five first-half touchdowns.
Yet the Cyclones have many more weapons. “Our running backs – Ronta Robinson, Raq Lawson, Mikey Keen have really spread the workload, which allows for some diversity in our run game. Obviously, any success our skill players have starts with our O-line anchored by seniors Jason Southern, David Jorgeson, and Ricky Robinson.”
Taking all that into account, the defense has been overlooked.
In 2018, the Cyclones allowed just 99 points through the first 12 games, before giving up 35 to both Dinwiddie (in a 45-35 region championship win) and Lake Taylor.
“Our defense continues to get better every year,” said Hatfield, and the numbers back him up thus far, as the average has dropped from 22 ppg in 2013 to this year’s six. “I think we really try to fly to the football and get eleven people to the ball every play. We preach that relentless pursuit and great effort makes a great defense.” The coach noted linebacker Drew Shurina. “He is our defensive leader and his leadership of that unit is very impressive. Another strength is the Cyclone defensive line, which includes C.J. Taylor, Jordan Breckley, Jordan Dodson, and Elijah Hoskin. “They all have been very strong on the D-line,” added Hatfield.
Fortunately, the most recent regional alignment has left the Cyclones unscathed. “We tried to get better as a team last year, and getting the opportunity to play teams Like Louisa, Dinwiddie, and Lake Taylor in the playoffs only make you better,” said Hatfield. “They are so well coached and tough, and it forces you to raise your standard as a program. We hope we are fortunate enough to get the opportunity to play those guys again.”
With four weeks to go in the regular season, those opportunities are about to become realities.
– Jim McGrath