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Chatham offers early test Friday with scrimmage / August 14, 2019
The Bluestone varsity football team will get a first test of what the new season may hold as they prepare to scrimmage Chatham on Friday at Averett University North Campus.

The team had a solid outing last year in this preseason matchup and hopefully things will go as good or better this week. The Barons ended the 2018 season with a 3-5 record in the James River District and 3-7 overall.

Bluestone started off last season with a 21-0 loss to Fluvanna in week-one action. The team then moved on to meet cross-county rival Park View in the King of the County game which PV won 32-30.

After this loss, Bluestone opened district competition against Randolph-Henry and got the 16-14 win on the road. This was followed by a 28-14 win over Prince Edward in Skipwith that lifted the team to 2-0 in JRD action.

With the win over PE, Bluestone was tied for second place in the district. The team was scheduled to face Amelia in its next game, and this matchup was critical for rankings as most of the top-tier teams in the JRD were bunched together.

The Amelia game was ugly, both from a team standpoint as well as individual performances. The Barons went down 41-0, in what would be their worst loss of the season and fell to 2-1 in the district.

Central Lunenburg was up next for Bluestone. The Barons went on to lose the game 29-14; this would set the team back to fifth place in the JRD. Bluestone held Lunenburg to zero yards through the air but allowed 238 rushing yards in the loss.

Bluestone welcomed Nottoway High School for homecoming the following week. The game went to overtime with the teams knotted at 14-14.

Bluestone scored first in OT with a TD but were unable to convert the PAT. Nottoway went on to post a TD and covert the PAT for the 21-20 win and Bluestone fell to 2-3 in the district.

A subsequent 28-7 loss in Skipwith to Buckingham dropped Bluestone to 2-4 and seventh place in the district.

From this point on the Barons just never got back on track. The team would defeat Cumberland 22-0 to end the season, but this was also the only win after the 2-0 start in the JRD.

But except for two blowout losses, Bluestone was pretty much in striking distance in every game, they just couldn’t put together enough good plays to pull out the wins.

Barons head coach Harry John, now in his second year, said last season after the Cumberland victory, “Hopefully we can build on this momentum as we move into the off season.”

John has spoken very positively about the players who put in work during the offseason. After the first week of practice, the Barons roster includes 20 players on the varsity squad, with 14 of those being seniors.

Larry Bullock, a senior, will key the Barons’ offense at the quarterback position. Bullock provided back-up QB duties last season and should be a good fit to lead the offense. He will also see some time at free safety, as most of the team will be playing dual roles this year.

The roster — though not complete regarding exact positions — shows Bluestone having six wide receivers: Michael Harris, Datrione Shearin, Jacob Walker, Elijah Dennis, Desean Hargrove and Thomas Dailey. Tray’Quon Powell and D’Andre Alexander are listed as the primary running backs. The linemen haven’t been named yet except for Jason Terry at center and tackle, and Tayshawn Henry at the guard position. All the players above will see time on the defense.

Returning to the defense this season will be senior classman Neil Clayton Jr. Clayton, at 5’9” and 235 pounds, had a strong season last year, making first-team All JRD defense and being named to the Region 2A second team defense. Clayton’s leadership abilities along with his powerful game will be a great asset to the Barons.

Clayton will also get some time as running back. Though he didn’t play at this position much last season, in his sophomore year he was a terror for opposing teams’ defenses.

Other players on the roster are seniors Chad Hayes, Mohammed Ghanem, Kavon Hilliard and Logan Lewis. Jailyn Crowder, a junior, and Stephen Tucker complete the roster.

Hayes, Ghanem, and Crowder have seen ample time on the varsity team and are quite versatile, so it will be interesting to see what positions they fill in 2019. Hayes was also named to the JRD second team last year as a defensive lineman.

As for this week’s Chatham scrimmage, John said, “We’re excited to get the opportunity to compete against another team after competing with ourselves all summer.”

Game time on Friday is 6 p.m. The Barons will host Franklin County High School Aug. 23 at 7 p.m. to conclude preseason preparations.

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