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A general celebration of positives

South Boston News
Comet head coach Mike Roark watches scrimmage action Friday against Staunton River.. (David Conner II photo)
SoVaNow.com / August 19, 2013
Halifax County High School generally celebrated some positives from a Staunton River scrimmage Friday night.

Comet head coach Mike Roark said, “good night.

“Defensively, I thought we played fast. We ran to the ball, we pursued, we tackled, we wrapped.

“Offensively, we moved the ball. We still have some room to improve,” Roark said.

The team is further ahead at this point than it was a year ago, he said.

“We didn’t always make the best plays. We might have miss-executed, but they flew to the ball. For us to be good, you have to put defense first. We flew and we wrapped up. We didn’t have a lot of missed tackles and we got some turnovers,” said Roark, who noted the Comets won’t see the single wing offense used by Staunton River again this season. By design, the Comets did not spend a whole lot of time preparing for an offense they won’t have to face again. Roark added, “It took (the defense) the first ten plays to catch up, and then I thought we did pretty well,” Roark said.

HCHS had some versatility in its offense, recording four scores.

The first touchdown was a 50-yard TD pass, Jacob Garrett to Roland Brandon. The second touchdown was a dazzling touchdown run by Tyler Stephens. Brandon had a marvelous run for the third touchdown and the fourth score was a touchdown pass from Stevens to Truman Brown.

HCHS punted once. The Comets were not worrying about special teams in the first scrimmage.

The Comets surrendered two quick scores before defensive adjustments and HCHS’ superior athleticism slowed the Golden Eagles.

Starting on their 35, the visitors popped off a 53-yard scoring run by Deshawn Martin on just the third snap of the scrimmage.

Martin sliced through a couple of holes and sprinted to paydirt. The PATs were not contested.

The Golden Eagles scored quickly on another early thrust, but then the Comet defense played shut down football the rest of the way.

Halifax County started slowly, but the Comets got on the board when Brandon caught a slant pass that had been deflected. Brandon scored on the 50-yard play. Stephens, one of three quarterbacks for the Comets, put on a show with a dazzling 65-yard scoring run. Stephens could not find an open seam at first, so he reversed field and sliced past the Golden Eagles defense on a sprint to paydirt.

Stephens got stepped on by a Golden Eagle defender, being cleated in the process. The training staff put the foot on ice as a precaution, and Stephens did not play afterwards.

Moments later, Brandon had a similar outburst. Brandon could not find open spaces in his initial thrust, so he sliced across the Golden Eagles defense and took advantage of a block by Kyle Lacks.

Brandon ripped off a spectacular 65-yarder to score.



Brandon found a higher gear about the 40 and raced to the end zone on the play. Brandon showed he’s ready to take over the prime rushing role from the departed Alonzo Bennett.

Later Stevens connected on a 28-yard scoring pass to Truman Brown.

“This whole offense is (designed) to get people in space. Some of the stuff (Brandon and Stevens) did, I’m like OK. “We’ve got multiple weapons,” said Roark.

HCHS is also looking for more consistency throwing the ball.

The Comets used three quarterbacks, Kyran Adams, Stephens and Garrett.

HCHS showed defensive hard-hitting ability and the ability to force turnovers. Halifax got strong defensive contributions from a variety of contributors.

After a mid-scrimmage break, HCHS rose up and made a particularly impressive late stop. The teams played one quarter of an actual game format, minus live special teams.

SRHS head coach Chuck Posten, whose team is a 3-A member of the Blue Ridge district, expects to be pretty good this season. His club finished 4-6 and missed the playoffs by a point. Staunton River had been in the playoffs three years in a row before last season, and hopes to get back this season.

“We installed this new look, a single wing. We’ve been working hard on it. We had some success with it today. It took (Halifax) a little time to adjust to it,” said Posten.

“As the scrimmage went on, they got better. They made adjustments,” said Posten. He labeled the Comets “athletic as heck. I think they’ve got athletes all over the place, and I think they’re going to be pretty good.” HCHS has athletes to move the ball, and now the Comets have video to evaluate the scrimmage performance.

“You saw the competitiveness. They (the Comet defense) didn’t want to give up down there at the end. I thought that was huge. We didn’t always have that last year.

“And we played hard (in the one quarter period.) We got turnovers, got the ball back, moved the sticks,” said Roark.

There’s room for improvement with the play of the lines, both offensive and defensive. HCHS moved some people around. The coaches will have video film to make improvements.

As for the defensive linemen, “You saw our d-linemen dip and rip. You saw them run flat down the line. The only thing that might have hurt us a little on defense, we gave up a couple of outside plays. But we’re fast enough that our safeties and defensive backs made up for it,” said Roark.



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