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Riverheads: Centralís biggest test?

Posted 2017-11-02 By Larry Beazley

    Central’s undefeated football Falcons Friday face what could well be their biggest challenge of the season.

    Central hosts defending 1A champion Riverheads, a team that just last week lost for the first time this season. The Gladiators fell to Robert E. Lee, 21-7.

    Before that game, Lee was ranked behind Central in the Group 2, 2A Region.

    With a 7-1 record, Riverheads ranks No. 1 in Virginia Group 1A football.

    The Gladiators employ primarily a run-oriented offense led by senior quarterback Tyler Smith. Smith only occasionally throws the ball.

    Smith and running back senior Dalton Jordan line up side by side in a shotgun formation with the snap coming directly to one or the other.  If the ball comes to Smith, he has the options of handing it to Jordan, if the running play is between the tackles, or faking a hand off and running up the middle himself.

    Out of this formation, the Gladiators will run a sweep to the right or left with the ball handed either to speedy junior Devin Morris, senior Jackson Shover or freshman Zac Smiley. Riverheads will run these plays over and over until their opponents prove they can stop them.

    On defense Riverheads is solid with a strong front led by junior Garrett Phifer and sophomore Gage Maxwell.  Linebackers are senior Chandler Branch, juniors Davis Cogar and Jaden Phillips.  The secondary is solid with junior Devin Morris and senior Smith.

    On special teams, Morris returns most kickoff and punts, making for a good kicking game.  Sophomore kicking specialist Peyton Skillman has good distance and is accurate within 35 yards, helpful if the game is close at the end.

    Central may be forced to deploy its first string for more than half of this game. The speed and versatility of Central’s Kyle Clanton and Varsey Bright, the arm of quarterback Zeb Dyer and the running of Shane Watson may prove too much for the Gladiators.

  The Falcons’ huge athletic line should provide protection for Dyer and open holes for Watson.

    Riverheads will have a difficult time adjusting to Central’s speed on both the offense and defense.

    Special teams are a plus for the Falcons. Both Clanton and Bright are a threat to score whenever they touch the ball.  Andrew Miller is having a good season in the kicking game.

    Central has more depth than Riverheads, a factor that could be essential late in the game. This will not be a cake walk for the Falcons, however. Playing a team such as Riverheads will prepare them for the playoffs, only two weeks away.

    A week ago, Clanton scored four times to lead the Falcons to a 52-8 victory over George Mason in a homecoming game in Woodstock.

    The victory secured undefeated Central’s place atop the Bull Run District standings.

    Clanton recovered a George Mason fumble early in the game and went 35 yards to the end zone. Andrew Miller kicked the PAT, his first of seven for the night. 

    Central’s Shane Watson scored from four yards out minutes later, and Falcons’ quarterback Zeb Dyer then found Clanton open for a 71 yard TD in the opening period to put the team up 21-0.

    Clanton got loose on a 43-yard run early in the second period to build Central’s lead, and Dyer ran 19 yards to the end zone midway through the second period. Miller booted a 26-yard field goal to give Central a 38-0 lead at the half.

    Things would only get worse for Mason.

    As the third period opened, Clanton took the opening kickoff 91 yards for a TD to push his team’s lead to 45-0. Watson added to the lead with a 34-yard dash to the goal line before Mason was able to get on the board.

    Mason finally scored in the closing minutes of the third period, but the outcome had already been decided. Neither team scored in the final period.

    Central’s speed on offense and its defense continue to stifle opponents.