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Comets young, still learning

South Boston NewsSouth Boston News
Top, Comet varsity quarterback James Smith looks for an opening during Friday’s ‘Meet the Comets’ scrimmage. Above, Comet running back Roland Brandon looks for yardage.
SoVaNow.com / August 11, 2014
The current Comet football team is young, with many learning lessons ahead.

Halifax County High School has a challenging opener, at home against Jefferson Forest on Aug. 29, followed by two consecutive road trips, to E.C. Glass and traditional border rival Person County.

There are some early positives for this team after an opening intra-squad scrimmage on Meet the Comets night.

HCHS has some intriguing new players and potential playmakers on both sides of the ball.

The Comets, working under new head coach Kenneth Day and a retooled staff, still have plenty to prove.

The opener against J-F, which welcomes back highly respected prep coach Bob Christmas, could be particularly daunting. Christmas enjoyed an excellent run at J-F earlier and also coached in Georgia before his return to Virginia.

As for Friday’s scrimmage, the Comets worked two quarters.

Contact on sophomore quarterback James Smith Jr., who started, and senior backup Kyran Adams, was limited. HCHS did not play under completely normal game conditions, including the total package in special teams. Referees were on hand, but penalties were not a major issue.

The (Blue team) offense won, 65-41. But it would be a mistake to read that the offense had a high-powered afternoon at the expense of the defense. Both sides - the Comet Blue vs. Black - earned points for specific accomplishments. The offense got six points for a touchdown and a minus three penalty for a turnover. There was one of each for the offense. The defense, meanwhile, earned three points apiece for forcing three plays and out on a series, or three for a sack or tackle for loss.

There were a number of highlights. Smith was elusive at times and made some breakout plays.

Two backs, Roland Brandon and freshman Jamal Brandon, showed promise working out of the backfield. J. Brandon was an offensive force at the middle school level, and now has to learn the varsity game as a freshman.

Jake Hughes, coming over from baseball and playing football for the first time, hauled in a reception thrown by Adams. Hughes has athleticism and is doing well picking up football.

R. Brandon made a nifty move around end for the only score of the scrimmage. Yard markers are not in place yet, but the play appeared to go for about 20 yards.

“I thought the kids are doing pretty well. We saw some things we need to work on. The kids know they’ve got to get better and better every day for us to compete in this district,” said Day.

Day said players on both sides of the ball performed well. “The main thing we want to make sure they did, was line up in the correct way, know what the play is, and how to execute,” said Day.

Some attention was paid to special teams.

Day said all the players are competing for playing time. He declined to single out any player’s accomplishments.

Day also said the defense showed aggressiveness. HCHS has to be solid in all three phases of the game, defense, offense and special teams.

“We’ve got some things to look at. We’ll get better and better every day,” said Day.

The Comets will be on the road Friday in a tri-scrimmage with Staunton River and Prince Edward high schools Friday.

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