by Andy Hilton, recruit757
The Heritage Hurricanes are a little more than a decade removed from their State Championship season in Football. It might seem like an age away now, but Heritage has the capacity to be a football power. Head Coach George Massenburg has things running right in Newport News. Two years into his regime, it’s on the verge of clicking like a fully fledged program. Signs of greatness are there. In spite of the loss of their lead tailback, Khalid Abdullah, can Heritage keep things moving in the right direction?
As of early August, there are still a lot of unanswered questions with the Hurricanes. Who will take over at quarterback? Who will replace the productivity of Abdullah? Will the linemen step up?
“We have high expectations,” said Coach Massenburg at the start of practice. “Our players expect to win now. Last year, we made baby steps and this year we expect to make steps in the right direction and be among the top three teams in the district. We lost Cameron Siler, Charlie Harrison, and Khalid Abdullah. Those three guys were key for us last year, but we have some young guys that I expect can step up and do pretty well.”
Offensively, Massenburg has plenty of options despite losing Abdullah. Quarterbacks Terrence Crosby and Richard Outlaw are gone as well. Harrison is the only lineman missing from last year’s starters, and Charlie played a lot of tight end. That bodes well for the Hurricane offense.
“We have three good quarterbacks in Chris Brown (SO QB 5-10 140), Malik Deloatch and Jeremiah Boyd. Deloatch has the lead on them now because he played a lot last year. He’s being pushed. Marcus Vanhook may play a little bit of quarterback for us too, just to get an athlete back there,” the coach commented.
Brown is a pocket passer who won seven games for the Heritage JV team last year. He has a shot at seeing his first varsity action in his sophomore season. Boyd is a bigger player, but he’s only a freshman, which means that he may bide his time at the JV level unless injuries give him a shot at varsity reps.
Recievers are aplenty at Heritage, which somewhat offsets the loss of Abdullah. Massenburg will still run the ball more than pass, but the presence of some solid receivers will help the offense establish the run.
“That may be the strong point of our team this year with Marcus Vanhook, Rasean Streater, Tim Holden-Bethea, and Dimitri Holloway. Those guys can do some things for us this year,” Massenburg said. “Juanye Patillo is asking for the ball as much as Khalid got it last year, and he’s also our starting linebacker. We’re going to see how that works out for us.”
Darrion Turner brings senior experience to the line at the center position. “That’s a special kid,” the coach said about Darrion. “I don’t think he’s missed a day of anything. He’s the spark plug of the offensive line. He does a good job for us. Him and Robert Sheppard, Treielle Pearson, and Ian Giddings, all those guys started for us last year. That’s a plus for us.”
On the defensive line, Turner and Sheppard will go both ways. Patillo will play middle linebacker and Holloway will play the SAM. The WILL backer is an open position as of now, but Justice Fauntleroy has the lead on earning that position. Julian Johnson may work his way into the lineup.
Heritage is one of the teams that drops down into Division 4, and that could affect the playoff picture for them. They’ll likely see powerhouse teams like Phoebus, Lake Taylor and Norcom once they get there, but those teams were in Division 5 with Heritage last year. More teams will make the playoffs, and that improves the Hurricanes’ chances of earning a bid.
“I look at it from a time where one loss might keep you out of the playoffs. I want my guys to have a mindset that we have to be the best in order to make the playoffs. We don’t want to have any setbacks. We want to continue to push forward. We ended the season on a bad note last year, losing to Phoebus in the playoffs. Our guys still think about that,” said the coach. “We want to use this new playoff format to make it a purposeful playoff push.”
– Andy Hilton