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Chropka: We have more work to do / September 20, 2017
The Bluestone varsity football team has shown signs of being a high-caliber unit each time they have hit the gridiron this season. But as pleased as Barons’ head coach Jessie Chropka is with the team’s advancements, he still sees room for improvement.

Chropka noted after Friday’s 14-13 win over Prince Edward that he was happy with the outcome but not as pleased with how it came about. In Chropka’s mind, the Barons made more mistakes Friday night than they did in a 40-0 opening loss to Fluvanna.

Focus, practice and execution are what Chropka was looking for.

“Both offenses has glimpses of greatness but neither were able to capitalize,” Chropka said. “Prince Edward moved the football with a little more urgency than we did which resulted in a huge disparity in the number of plays.”

By halftime, Prince Edward had run 40 plays on offense, compared to Bluestone’s 23. Bluestone's defense was on the field for the majority of the first half, chasing PE’s players from sideline to sideline. And they did it really well, Chropka added.

Commenting on Bluestone’s 14-7 halftime lead, Chropka offered these thoughts:

“We took our lumps early and paid the price. Neil Clayton Jr, fumbled on his first carry of the night. And Cedric Taylor let a ball bounce off his chest in which a Prince Edward defender caught and ran in for a touchdown. But with all the negativity and poor plays in the first half, the second half was surely more entertaining.

“We were finally able to get our running game going as junior Trey Smalls broke a 15 yard run, junior Devin Pettus broke a 23 yard run, and junior Dale Sturdifen Jr. broke a 33 yard run. We were not able to get to the passing game in order but the running game helped keep the clock moving, rested our defense, and secured a victory.”

Speaking about the defense, Chropka said the unit is an integral part of what Bluestone wants to accomplish this season — another postseason appearance in Conference 34 play.

“For the fourth straight game our defense created turnovers and once again there were a lot of them,” Chropka said. “Three fumbles, one of which D’Andre Alexander recovered and scored, and one interception by senior Roger Dailey Jr.

“The defense also had several sacks, tackle for losses, and deflected or heavily defended passes.”

Chropka credited juniors Noah Forbes and Xavier Johnson as well as seniors Kareem Mason and Walter Evans for being disruptive in the backfield, forcing Prince Edward ball carriers to pull up and reverse field. Senior Cameron Tucker and freshman D’Andre Alexander ended the game as Bluestone’s leading tacklers as they often were chasing the Eagle carriers down from behind.

“The Baron defense limited the Eagles to under 150 yards rushing, a feat yet accomplished by the Baron defense this year, as well as holding the Eagles to under 100 yard passing,” Chropka continued. “The Prince Edward Eagles offense had scored almost 100 points in their first three games this season on their way to a 3-0 record and (Friday) night the Barons held them to only six.

On what would prove to be the decisive play — a late two-point conversion try that would have put PE ahead, 15-14 — the Eagles committed a fumble on the handoff from the quarterback to a running back.

“We gave Prince Edward opportunities to tighten the game and gain momentum by not being fundamentally disciplined and mentally focused,” said Chropka. “But by sheer talent, will, and team unity the Barons came out on top. No doubt about it, we will have to come more focused and more prepared next week versus Amelia, but after this emotional game it’s appropriate to sit back and celebrate.”

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