Varina 2019 (Photo: Andy Hilton/recruit757)
Hermitage vs. Varina
Hermitage Panthers (0-0) @ Varina Blue Devils (0-0) Monday, February 22, 2021 6:30PM
by Byron Jones, recruit804
High school football is finally back in Virginia! We have all dreamed of this day since the state finals in 2019 and now it is here. Tonight, we kick off our spring coverage at Varina as the defending Region 5B champs host Hermitage in a marquee opening matchup. Varina Head Coach Marcus Lewis will coach his first game tonight at his alma mater after taking over for long-time Coach Stu Brown.
Hermitage Head Coach David Bedwell will coach his first game in five years. In his last game as a head coach, Bedwell suffered a 35-20 defeat at the hands of Highland Springs in the Region 5B championship game in 2016. The Springers would go on to win their first of four consecutive state titles.
Varina and Hermitage met up during the fourth week of the regular season in 2019. Both teams entered the contest 2-1 and ranked in our recruit804 Top-10 (Varina #4 /Hermitage #9). Hermitage only trailed Varina 7-6 at the end of the first quarter, but the Blue Devils busted the game wide open in the second quarter, reeling off three touchdowns in a span of four minutes. Varina cruised to a 56-13 victory.
When Varina has the ball:
Offensively, Varina returns quarterback Bobby Dunn who threw for 145 yards and two touchdowns against the Panthers in 2019. His weapons in tonight’s game will include JMU signee Jailen Walker (2021 RB/LB 6-1 196), Isiah Reid (2021 WR 5-6 150), and Carlo Thompson (2022 WR 6-0 170). Upfront, the offensive line unit will be anchored by ODU preferred walk-on commit Caleb Gosney (2021 6-3 285).
The Panther defense will be much more improved this season. They have eight returners back on that side of the ball and six are seniors with at least two years of experience. That group includes Marcos Torres (2021 DE 6-0 200), Carlos Alexander (2021 DT 6-0 300), Gabe Clayton (2021 DT 6-3 270), Jasiah Robinson (2021 LB 5-10 190), Alhaji Kamara (2021 DB 6-0 165), Nigel James (2021 RB/DB 5-10 180).
When Hermitage has the ball:
Hermitage will rely on the legs and strength of Nigel James (2021 RB 5-10 180) and sophomore Jeremiah Coney (2023 RB 6-0 175). The duo rushed for almost 2500 yards a season ago and they will be the focal points of the offense once again this season.
Their offensive line unit who paved the way for them in 2019 all return. Billy Gough (2021 C 6-1 265), Nate James (2023 OL 6-0 285), Nate Howard (2021 OL 6-1 300), Drew Lee (2022 OL 5-11 255), and Jvion Smith (2021 OL 6-4 265) will be tasked with paving the way for James and Coney against a talented and experienced front seven for Varina.
Blue Devil linebackers Jaiden Carthorne (2021 5-11 200), Jailen Walker (2021 6-1 195), Jalen Murphy (2021 5-11 200), and Amari Baylor (2022 6-3 210) all possess a strong knack for finding the football and playing downhill. Defensive lineman Omarion Robinson (2021 5-10 285) Malachi Patterson (2021 6-2 220), and Deondre Crump (2022 6-3 270) will be tasked with creating enough pressure up-front for their linebackers to fill gaps and stop Coney and James.
Kickoff is set for 6:30PM. I will be onsite covering the contest. Be sure to follow recruit804 on Facebook and Twitter for up to date scoring of the game. Post-game review to follow.
– Byron Jones