#4 Hopewell RB Treveyon Henderson (Photo: Andy Hilton/recruit804)
2021 Spring Preview: Central District
by Byron Jones, recruit804
Central District schools compiled a 49-44 record in 2019 and had five teams appear in the playoffs. Hopewell went 15-0 and brought home their second Division 3 title in three seasons. Thomas Dale and Dinwiddie both advanced to the regional finals in their respective divisions, while Prince George and Petersburg made first-round appearances.
*Previews are listed by 2019 Record*
Hopewell (2019 15-0 Division 3 State Champions. Offense PPG: 42.1 Defense PPG: 12)
Hopewell will be without TreVeyon Henderson this spring, but they have more than enough weapons to successfully defend their crown. Former Henrico running back Eric McDaniels will team up with
Robert Briggs to give the Blue Devils one of the best backfields in the state. In addition, freshman Kesean Henderson, brother of TreVeyon Henderson, will also get some carries and add depth to the position. Henderson picked up his first Division I offer from UVA in January.
Quarterback Joseph Eliades also returns but may split some time with sophomore Mason Cumbie. Cumbie has already picked up an offer from ODU and appears to be the quarterback of the future for Coach Irby. The offensive line was hit hard by graduation but they return all-state selection Landen Baker and Trey Raines.
Their wide receiving corps will be led by D.J. Powell and Javon Jones. Both Powell and Jones are returning starters from 2019.
When asked about the offense, Coach Irby stated, “We will be much more versatile on the offensive side of the ball. I’ve been very impressed with how our passing game has progressed. We have a great core of receivers this year. Adding McDaniels in the backfield gives us three very capable backs with Briggs and Keasean. We only return two starters on the offensive line, led by Landen Baker, so it may take some time for them to gel.”
On defense, Hopewell’s biggest strength is their front seven, headlined by two-time all-state selection Reggie Ruffin. Nas Bennett, Khalil Murdock, Khatonie Taylor, and Zion Hubbard are the additional returning starters from the defensive unit that only gave up 12 points per contest in 2019.
“Our defense will be fast and physical,” explained Irby. “Our front seven could be the best we’ve had here. Our depth at DB is a concern, but I believe we have the right kids in place to make plays when needed.”
2/26 7PM Colonial Heights
3/6 2PM @ Thomas Dale
3/13 2PM Petersburg
3/19 2PM @ Dinwiddie
3/26 7PM @ Meadowbrook
4/2 7PM Matoaca
Thomas Dale (2019 9-4 Region 6A Regional Finals. Offense PPG: 33.6 Defense PPG: 19.3)
Thomas Dale has graduated close to 55 players over the past two seasons. The Knights aren’t necessarily in a “rebuilding year” but they will be playing a lot of fresh faces and will rely on experienced seniors such as DeAngelo Grey, Shamus Jones (VMI), Greg Mitchell (Shenandoah), and Jonathan Martinez to lead the young guys. “We have a great mix of seniors that are battle-tested, and a great group of young guys that are ready to take the lead and continue our rich tradition of winning on and off the field,” explained Kevin Tucker.
On offense, Thomas Dale was hit hard by graduation. Chris Tyree (Notre Dame) and Jasiah Williams (Richmond) made up a lot of their offensive production in 2019. Junior Jordan Branch started six games for the Knights at tailback in 2019 and rushed for 518 yards and seven scores. He will be the feature back in the offense.
Coach Tucker explained that there will be a quarterback battle between three quality candidates. Junior Ethan Hamill, sophomore CJ Milazzo, and freshman Ethan Minter will duke it out for QB1 responsibilities. “All three guys are great kids and bring different skill sets to the table,” stated Tucker. “Hamill can deliver the ball all over the field with precision. Minter and Milazzo give you a running threat like Jasiah gave us the last two years. This is going to be a fun battle to watch.”
The receiving corps is led by DeAngelo Gray. Gray has scored over 30 touchdowns in two seasons and has a chance at breaking Chris Tyree’s record of 52 career touchdowns. Sophomore Donovan Woods will provide depth at the position. Woods starred in eight games as a true freshman and his role will expand this season.
Defensively, the Knights have to replace all four defensive linemen from the 2019 team. Newcomers include Jaleel Dowd, Jerry Newby, Hazon Ellis, and KJ Jones. “These four guys played a ton of football last year for us,” stated Tucker. “However, replacing four starters that are all playing college football right now is no small task. All four of these guy’s worked hard in the offseason to transform their bodies and are ready to play a lot of snaps for us.”
2/27 2PM @ Petersburg
3/6 2PM Hopewell
3/12 7PM L.C. Bird (Battle of Chester)
3/19 7PM @ Prince George
3/26 7PM Matoaca
4/2 7PM Dinwiddie
Dinwiddie (2019 7-6 Region 4B Finals. Offense PPG: 35 Defense PPG: 25.2)
Dinwiddie stumbled out the gate last season but was able to put it together at the right time and snuck into the playoffs with a 5-5 record. The Generals took down Monacan and Eastern View before falling to Patrick Henry (Ashland) in the Region 4B finals.
On offense, Dinwiddie returns a plethora of young talent. QB Brenton Hylton, OL Cornell Lucess, OL Collen Jackson, TE Khalil Hazelwood, WR Cedric Drumgoole, and WR Qion Brown, are names to keep tabs on. “Our QB (Hylton) has a year under his belt and is more comfortable with the system and what is expected from him,” explained Coach Mills. Our offensive line is definitely one of the largest we’ve had. They have a lot of potential upfront to do some great things but time will tell.”
One area of concern for the offense is figuring out a way to replace the production of all-state performer Robert Barlow (Bridgewater). “Replacing Barlow will be tough to do with just one guy.
We have some talented guys that could be very good for us, just unproven. Daniel Campbell is very fast and athletic with great ball skills. Tyler Veney is tough and has great quickness.”
Defensively, the Generals return 10 players who started at least two games in 2019. Their leading tackler, Chris Parham, will move from linebacker to free safety this season. Linebacker Zachary Weaver is primed for a breakout junior season and all-state defensive tackle Cornell Lucess is back and ready to clog up holes.
“We have plenty of depth on defense, but some of it is unproven,” Mills explained. We must develop the talent quickly in our gauntlet of a district schedule.”
2/26 7PM @ Prince George
3/5 7PM Petersburg
3/12 7PM @ Matoaca
3/19 7PM Hopewell
3/26 7PM @ Colonial Heights
4/2 7PM @ Thomas Dale
Prince George (7-4 First Rd. Region 5B Playoffs. Offense PPG: 24.1 Defense PPG: 21)
The Royals enjoyed their first winning season and post-season appearance for the first time in over two decades in 2019. Head Coach Bruce Carroll was named the new Athletic Director of the school in September but will coach the team during the spring season. His replacement will be Scott Girolmo, who is currently the Head Coach at Battlefield High School in Northern, VA. Coach Girolmo will take over for Carroll in the fall.
Prince George returns ten starters on offense headlined by running back Curtis Allen, quarterback Tahir Johnson, and offensive lineman Jaelin Montgomery (JMU). When asked about the strengths of his offense, Coach Carroll stated, “Our offensive line will be the core of our offense. They are an experienced group with two experienced running backs in Curtis Allen and Darion Ivory running behind them.”
Defensively, Coach Carroll’s defensive line is his most experienced group. Chris Allen, Aaron Graham, and Moeva Pine will anchor the defensive front. All three are returning starters. “Our defensive strength will be up front with our defensive line,” stated Carroll. “Our overall team speed on defense will be a major factor in our success this season. We do need to fill in some holes at the linebacker position.”
2/26 7PM Dinwiddie
3/5 7PM Matoaca
3/12 7PM @ Colonial Heights
3/19 7PM Thomas Dale
3/27 2PM @ Petersburg
4/2 7PM Meadowbrook
Petersburg (2019 5-6. First Rd. Region 3A Playoffs. Offense PPG: 36.8 Defense PPG: 33.9)
Petersburg will be young on both sides of the ball this spring. However, Head Coach Mike Scott is optimistic about the youth and the direction the program is headed when fall rolls around.
“The Crimson Wave will have a roster filled primarily with underclassmen looking to prepare for a bright future,” explained Scott. “We may lack numbers, but we have several two-way athletes with tremendous potential.“
Petersburg has three returning starters on offense from 2019. Western Carolina commit, Meziah Scott, will have at least six games to build on his career passing records. He’s thrown for over 5,000 yards, 48 TD’s. On the ground, Scott has rushed for 1,622 yards and 23 scores. Senior offensive lineman Kevin Talon and sophomore wide-out Zhomarie White round out the returning starters on offense.
On defense, linebacker Rahkeem Lewis and defensive lineman Anthony Jefferson are the only starters back from 2019. “All our replacements will be underclassmen with great athleticism and quickness,” stated Scott. “I look for guys such as Donnell Batts (DB), Kelvontay Carson (ATH), and Jamar Hodges (DE) to step up and make an impact on that side of the ball.”
2/27 2PM Thomas Dale
3/5 7PM @ Dinwiddie
3/13 2PM @ Hopewell
3/20 2PM Meadowbrook
3/27 2PM Prince George
4/2 7PM @ Colonial Heights
Matoaca (2019 5-5. Offense PPG: 25.1 Defense PPG: 17.9)
The Warriors came up just short of reaching the Region 5B playoffs in 2019. Coach Justin Parker enters his third season leading his alma mater and his teams have improved each year under his direction. ECU signees Jacob Coleman (TE) and Troy Lewis (WR) will suit up for the Warriors this spring and both will be QB Devin Bailey’s (Virginia State) favorite targets. Anchoring the offensive line will be Akhari Haggard who has picked up a lot of steam on the recruiting trail during the offseason.
Defensively, key names to keep an eye on include Michael Shank (LB), Jordan Robinson (DB), Trey Wills (DB), Keyshawn Burgos (DE), and Cornell Allen (DB).
When asked about his overall outlook on his spring squad, Coach Parker stated, “We will be more versatile this year on both sides. More multiple in the looks we can give and hopefully stay a step ahead of our opponents. We will have more contributors than in years past.”
He continued, “We return a large portion of our team. Many of the seniors will now be third-year starters. We will be inexperienced up front on both sides, but I think the upside of those groups is high. They will have a learning curve to meet, especially during these tough times.”
2/26 7PM @ Meadowbrook
3/5 7PM @ Prince George
3/12 7PM @ Dinwiddie
3/19 7PM @ Colonial Heights
3/26 7PM @ Thomas Dale
4/2 7PM @ Hopewell
Colonial Heights (2019 1-9. Offense PPG: 8.4 Defense PPG: 42.4)
Colonial Heights Head Coach Kyle Krupp enters his second season leading his alma mater. After a 3-7 campaign in 2018, the Colonials took a step back in 2019, posting a 1-9 record.
When asked what we could expect from his offense this spring, Coach Krupp stated, “Offensively, we return our starting QB (Tyler White) and the majority of our skill players (Jaden Newby/Maurice Harmon) and linemen (John Duke/Nyzheir Warner) along with adding Jae’den Richardson (transfer from South Carolina), who should be a standout receiver for us. Our returning OL has a ton of experience and should be able to create movement up front as well as protecting our QB.”
Senior linebacker Wayne Wolfe has been the team’s leading tackler for the past two seasons and is in charge of leading the defense.
The secondary will be full of fresh faces according to Krupp. “We have to replace the entire secondary due to graduation, transfers, etc. We are confident that sophomores Will Cimburke and Donoven Miller can step up and get the job done.”
2/26 7PM @ Hopewell
3/5 7PM @ Meadowbrook
3/12 7PM Prince George
3/19 7PM @ Matoaca
3/26 7PM Dinwiddie
4/2 7PM Petersburg
Meadowbrook (2019 0-10. Offense PPG: 3.6 Defense PPG: 52.5)
In 2004, Meadowbrook became the first Chesterfield County school to ever win a state title in football. Notable football players who hail from the school include Dion Foxx (JMU- Miami Dolphins/Washington Morgan Moses (UVA-Washington), John Graves (Virginia Tech- Seattle Seahawks), and Brandian Ross (Youngstown State- played for multiple NFL teams).
Since 2017, Meadowbrook has won only four games and are currently riding a 20-game losing streak. Their last win came against Hopewell during the 2017 regular season finale. In January 2020, Meadowbrook named Kevin Healy as their new coach. Due to COVID-19, Coach Healy has yet to coach a game for the Monarch.
Before arriving at Meadowbrook, Healy spent five seasons at South Lakes High School in Fairfax County. He began his tenure as a wide receiver’s coach before taking over offensive coordinator duties. In his lone season as the head coach in 2018, Healey posted a 9-3 record.
Healey will look to revive a once-dominant program but will have his work cut out for him. The Monarchs play in one of the toughest districts and regions in the state. It may take a few years, but Healey appears to be in for the long haul.
2/26 7PM @ Matoaca
3/5 7PM Colonial Heights
3/12 7PM @ Midlothian
3/20 2PM @ Petersburg
3/26 7PM Hopewell
4/2 7PM @ Prince George
– Byron Jones