Photo: Joe Barnes/recruit757
Spring Preview: Colonial District
by Byron Jones, recruit804
Colonial District teams posted a combined 48-40 record in 2019 and had four teams make the playoffs. The headliners from the district were Thomas Jefferson and Deep Run. TJ finished with an 11-3 record and appeared in the Division 2 state semi-finals, a first for the Richmond City Public School. Bo Kite led the Deep Run Wildcats to their first perfect regular season since 2006 and a trip to the Region 5B semi-finals. Douglas Freeman and John Marshall both made first-round appearances before being knocked out by Manchester and Poquoson.
Glen Allen’s Devin Flowers broke the Richmond Area rushing record held by former Highland Springs/Virginia Tech great Victor “Macho” Harris. Flowers finished his prep career with over 5,500 rushing yards. He also chipped 64 career rushing scores. Flowers is now a running back at Syracuse University.
2021 Spring Preview
Due to COVID-19, Richmond City Schools have canceled spring football so the district will be without Thomas Jefferson and John Marshall this spring. Deep Run will be the favorite in the district once again with West Point commit Bo Kite back under center. Glen Allen, Hermitage, and Freeman will contend with the Wildcats and may have a few surprises up their sleeves. Godwin and Tucker will have new coaches leading their programs in Kevin Simonds and Phillip Sims. However, this is neither coaches’ first rodeo and both have had past success at building winning programs.
*Previews are listed by 2019 record*
Deep Run (2019: 11-1 Division 5 Regional Semi-Finals/Offense: 37.5PPG Defense: 12.7PPG)
The Wildcats return eight starters on the offensive side of the ball, six at the skill position, and two in the trenches. Bo Kite (2021 QB/LB 6-3 220) accounted for much of their offensive production in 2019. Kite rushed for 1,222 yards and 28 scores. Through the air, he threw for 1,006 yards and 10 touchdowns. It’s no secret their success starts with him.
In addition to Kite, Deep Run returns Alva Rose (2021 RB/DL 5-7 200), Corey “CJ” Crump (2021 RB/LB 6-1 220), Miles Ellis-Virginia Tech PWO (2021 WR 5-11 175), Kyle Gensone (2021 WR 5-7 160), Carter Foy (2021 WR 6-1 185), Reid Smith (2021 OL 6-2 255), and Sam Blankenship (2021 OL 6-5 295).
“All but four returning starters have been running this offense since they were freshman and their experience is incredible,” explained Head Coach Chad Hornik. He continued, “They understand our offense and find the endzone on almost every possession. This offense will score fast and often!”
The Wildcats will continue to run their Gun Triple Option (GTO) with the goal of each skill player scoring multiple times. Opposing defenses have the unfortunate pleasure of trying to isolate seven different threats on each play.
The offensive line unit will have three new starters upfront. Nick Gagliardi (2023 6-2 260), Jayson Morgan (2023 6-7 230), Anthony Greco (2022 6-0 240), and Daniel McCourt (2021 6-2 210).
When asked about his group upfront, Hornik stated, “We have three new starters on the offensive line, but they have incredibly high ceilings that should translate to great success. They are young, but they know what is expected of them and they are ALL IN!”
Ronique Capers (2021 WR 6-1 180) is a big-time playmaker who transferred from Kenston Forest School (Blackstone, VA) during the offseason. Coach Hornik will to get him involved in the offense early and often.
On defense, the Wildcats return eight starters from the 2019 squad. Henry Blankenship (2021 DT 6-3 210), Tanner Bowen (2021 DE 5-10 180), and Drew Loving (2021 DE 6-3 205) return up front. Alva Rose (2021 RB/DL 5-7 200) will help the group out when needed.
Linebackers Garrett Keeney (2021 6-1 220). Kendall Hummer (2022 6-0 185), and Corey “CJ” Crump (2021 RB/LB 6-1 220) are back at the linebacker position. Jake Jarvis (2021 5-11 190) is the newcomer to the group. Bo Kite (2021 QB/LB 6-3 220) also returns, but will be used primarily on offense.
The secondary will have two newcomers in Andres Beaubrun (2021 FS/SS 5-11 190) and Carter Foy (2021 FS/SS 6-1 185). They will work in tandem with returning starters Miles Ellis (2021 CB 5-11 175) and Kyle Gensone (2021 CB 5-7 155).
“Again, this is another experienced squad,” Hornik stated. “Last year, our defense only allowed an average of close to 10 points/game and this team should be more talented and they are much bigger, faster, and stronger. We are looking to also dominate the turnover battle like we did last season.”
2/27 2PM J.R. Tucker
3/5 7PM Douglas Freeman
3/12 7PM @ Varina
3/19 7PM @ Highland Springs
3/26 7PM @ Hermitage
4/2 7PM Mills Godwin
Douglas Freeman (2019: 7-4 First Rd Division 5 Playoffs/ Offense: 20.2PPG Defense: 17.8PPG)
Freeman returns seven players on offense and much like Deep Run, the heartbeat of their offense comes from the quarterback position. Washington and Lee University commit Andrew Bland (2021 QB 5-10 170) accounted for 2,270 yards of total offense and recoded 19 scores.
In addition to Bland, the strength of the Mavericks offense will be their experience at the skill position. Returning starters include Charlie Martin (2021 RB 5-11 175), Jackson Fellows (2021 6-0 220), Seamus Moore (2021 WR 6-0 175), Luke Shourds (2021 WR 5-10 165), Luke Jennette (2021 WR 6-6 205).
The offensive line unit has one starter back from the 2019 squad and that’s an area of concern for the Mavericks. Damien Balsom (2021 6-1 250) will be tasked with getting the young group up to par. New additions include Alex Brann (2023 6-3 250), Patrick Laxy (2021 5-10 250), Colin Estrada (2022 5-10 215), Kyle Schleicher (2022 6-3 215), Ian Donnellan (2022 6-4 265), and Seth Holtz (2021 6-1 235).
When asked about the overall potential of his offense this spring, Head Coach George Bland stated, “If the youth on our offensive line can apply their skill and athleticism, we can have a very productive year.”
The defensive side of the ball presents some challenges for the Mavericks. They only return three starters from a 2019 squad that gave up an average of 17.8 points per contest. Outside linebacker Leo Lombardi, rover Bradley Perkins, and free safety Jonathan Hundley are the returning senior leaders.
“I think we can be very good depending on how well our young players develop,” explained Bland. “Our overall team speed has improved and that may lead to more big play opportunities.”
2/22 7PM Mill Godwin
2/27 2PM Glen Allen
3/5 7PM @ Deep Run
3/12 7PM Henrico
3/19 7PM J.R. Tucker
3/26 7PM @ Varina
Glen Allen (2019 5-5 Offense: 26 PPG Defense: 16.4 PPG)
After leading the Jaguars to a 9-3 finish in 2017, former Head Coach Salvatore Camp decided to step down from the program. Camp is now an assistant with Thomas Dale. After Camp’s departure, former UVA running back, Perry Jones, decided it was time for him to make his next move in the coaching profession. He had been Camp’s defensive coordinator the prior two seasons, and was already familiar with the players.
Jones was named the Head Coach a few months prior to the beginning of the 2019 season. In his first year at the helm, Jones guided the Jags to a 5-5 record. Coach Jones has had an extended offseason heading into year two but has a solid group of athletes ready to roll on both sides of the ball.
When asked about his outlook for the spring season, Coach Jones stated, “Nothing will be remarkably different. The standard set last season is the same standard for this season. I have great kids who work everyday to uphold those standards.”
Quarterback Jordan Greenhow committed to Virginia Tech as a preferred walk-on back in December. He threw for 1200 yards, rushed for an additional 500, and notched 22 total touchdowns in 2019. He will be taking snaps from three-year starter JT Kelley (2021 6-2 270) who will anchor the offensive line unit. Joshua Gooding (2023 OL 6-0 215) is the only sophomore to crack the starting lineup and is someone to keep an eye on.
Drew Morris (2021 WR 6-0 190) who holds an offer from Davidson, and Dominic Dutton (2021 WR/RB 5-9 170) provide depth and experience at the skill position.
Defensively, the Jaguars will be led by VMI commit Jason Johnson (2021 DE 6-2 210). Johnson posted 47 solo stops and seven sacks in 2019. Guys who are expected to make an impact include Zach Chambers (2022 LB 6-1 220) who moved from defensive tackle to linebacker over the offseason, Drew Morris (2021 DB 6-0 190), and Patrick Carey (2022 DB 6-0 160).
2/22 7PM J.R. Tucker
2/27 2PM @ Douglas Freeman
3/5 7PM @ Hermitage
3/12 7PM Highland Springs
3/19 7PM Mills Godwin
4/2 7PM @ Henrico
Hermitage (2019 4-6 Offense: 22.2 PPG Defense: 28 PPG)
Hermitage is a team everyone will be watching closely. Despite posting a 4-6 record last season, the Panthers made tremendous strides from their 1-9 record in 2018. David Bedwell is back roaming the sidelines which means business is about to pick up. Bedwell has an astounding 203-41 career record and three state titles behind his name. Needless to say, the man knows what he’s doing, and Hermitage may be a sleeping giant.
The offense returns ten starters from a season ago. Running back duo Nigel James (2021 5-10 180) and Jeremiah Coney (2023 6-0 175) will be among the area’s best. James rushed for over 1500 yards and was an All-804 Second Team selection. Coney recorded over 900 yards on the ground and chipped in nine touchdowns.
The question mark for the Panthers offense will be at quarterback. They have three quality candidates in Brock Schaefer (2021 6-2 225), Jaylen Burton (2022 5-9 150), and Corey Morton (2023 5-10 170). “We need to decide on a starting QB,” stated Bedwell. “Each QB listed does something different than the other, so all three of them may play.”
Coach Bedwell believes his offense’s biggest strength is upfront on the offensive line. Billy Gough (2021 6-1 265), Nate Howard (2021 6-1 300), Javion Smith (2021 6-4 265), Drew Lee (2022 5-11 255), and Nate James (2023 6-0 285) will pave the running lanes for James and Coney.
The defensive front is also returning a plethora of talent and experience. Marcos Torres (2021 6-0 200), Stanley Athey (2021 6-0 185), Carlos Alexander (2021 6-0 300), and Gabe Clayton (2021 6-3 270) will cause some disruptions along the line of scrimmage.
2/22 7PM @ Varina
3/5 7PM Glen Allen
3/12 7PM 2 Mills Godwin
3/19 7PM @ Henrico
3/26 7PM Deep Run
4/2 7PM J.R. Tucker
Mills Godwin (2019 3-7 Offense PPG: 11.6 Defense PPG: 22.6)
Mills Godwin appointed Interim Head Coach Kevin Simonds last October after Ron Strine decided to step away from the program. Prior to Godwin, Simonds was the head coach at Fairfax High School where he posted a 30-33 record and led his team to three playoff appearances in Division 6.
The Eagles return eight starters on offense from last season. Quarterback Grayson Hanks (2021 5-11 175) will be the signal-caller once again, but according to Coach Simonds, Hanks will be used in a variety of ways. “We have a couple guys battling for QB reps which will allow us to put Hanks in multiple positions on the field,” he explained.
Coach Simonds will rely on running backs Mason Staid (2021 5-8 180) and Miykael Johnson-Harris (2022 5-8 165) to make up for the loss of Bryce Safferwich.
Defensively, the Eagles return seven playmakers from 2019. When asked about his defense, Coach Simonds stated, “We have a strong core returning in our secondary and at the linebacker position.
We will need to replace some key parts along our line but we have some guys we believe can get the job done.”
Key playmakers include Ryan Norton (2021LB 6-1 210), Colton Travis (2021 LB 5-8 185), Grayson Hanks (2021 QB/DB 5-11 175), Marcus Orpiano (2022 DB 6-2 185) and Daniel Massengill (2022 LB 6-0 200).
2/22 7PM @ Douglas Freeman
2/27 2PM Highland Springs
3/12 7PM Hermitage
3/19 7PM @ Glen Allen
3/26 7PM Henrico
4/2 7PM @ Deep Run
J.R. Tucker (2019 1-9 Offense PPG: 6.7 Defense PPG: 32.2)
After leading John Marshall to a 6-5 record and the school’s first playoff appearance in more than two decades in his second season at the helm, Phillip Sims decided to take on another building project. Sims inherits a J.R. Tucker program that has been down for several years. However, Coach Sims is optimistic about the talent currently in the program and what is on the way to Tucker in the coming years. Like Highland Springs, Tucker is getting a new school, new field, and new facilities.
When asked about his team’s strength heading into his first season, Coach Sims stated, “The competitive nature of this group will stand out. We have a small but very vocal and passionate senior group that leads the way for the younger guys on the team. Our strength on offense is our offensive line led by Elijah Fuentes (2021 6-2 230) and Noah Hartsoe (2022 6-4 330). Our size and athleticism upfront will lead the way for us offensively.”
He continued, “We have a great group of skill guys led by Sir Jonathan Sims (2022 5-10 175), Raheem Mitchell (2021 6-6 210), Jaden Lee (2023 5-7 160), Nehemiah Scott (2021 6-1 175), Antione Carroll (2021 5-7 160). All of them will be explosive and dangerous in the open field.
On defense, Sims has tabbed David Walker (2021 LB 6-0 200) to be the captain of the unit. Other players slatted to make an impact on that side of the ball include Devonte Kenney (2022 DE 6-0 235), Joel Birch (2023 DE 6-0 250), Blane West (2022 DL 6-3 285), and Jaden Lee (2023 DB 5-7 160).
2/22 7PM @ Glen Allen
2/27 2PM @ Deep Run
3/5 7PM Varina
3/19 7PM @ Douglas Freeman
3/26 7PM Highland Springs
4/2 7PM @ Hermitage
– Byron Jones