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PLAY HARD, PLAY WELL
SoVaNow.com / August 28, 2014Halifax County High School varsity football Kenneth Day has taken a low-key approach in media interviews, assessing the 2014 Comet varsity football team.
The Comets made a change in the program after the Mike Roark-era did not work out. Day, meanwhile, has accomplished his goal of keeping the focus off himself in preseason interviews.
In Day’s world, it’s all about the kids.
Make no mistake, no one in the Halifax athletic department wants to win more than Day. He’s been here almost three decades and has definitely paid his dues, heading into his first-ever head coaching job at Halifax.
Day’s goal this season is simple: to have the Comets play as hard as possible and play well.
“They really want to play and do well,” Day said Tuesday.
Halifax has a demanding task Friday. Jefferson Forest comes to South Boston, and the Cavaliers welcome back iconic coach Bob Christmas, who reportedly brought many of his staff members from his previous coaching assignment, in Georgia. Christmas previously coached at J-F and achieved considerable success.
J-F has to be considered the favorite in this matchup.
Day said every team on the Comet slate is a tough matchup.
The Comets will have to bring their ‘A’ game every week to compete. Halifax, which battled gamely but lost its benefit game to Buckingham last week, has to avoid turnover problems and other errors.
J-F will capitalize on Comet mistakes, Day said.
HCHS has a good mix of new athleticism and experience on its 59-player roster. James Smith will be the starting quarterback. HCHS has some other intriguing athletes on this roster. Day apparently has succeeded in getting some players who had been sitting on the sidelines out for football.
Day said the Comets hope to match up well with everyone they play, noting all of the opponents have good speed and size.
Smith is a sophomore and has made some rookie mistakes in the preseason.
But HCHS will not rely solely on him, with other running backs and receivers ready to step up to make an impact.
The Comets have some youngsters - freshmen and sophomores - listed in the early depth chart, but Day made it clear he has faith that these newcomers will play well. The Comets would not turn to these players if the staff did not have faith in them, the coach said.
There is considerable youth in this overall lineup. Halifax has 20 seniors on its roster. There are 21 juniors, 13 sophomores and five freshmen.
OFFENSIVE LOOK: Coordinator Garrick Vogt said the Comets will run a base formation, with the shotgun two-back scheme. The goal is to run first, with play action in place to capitalize on the speed of the backfield. The goals include increasing time of possession and plays per possession, with the aim of keeping the other team’s offense off the field. The focus will be on proper execution.
The depth chart has three tight ends, starting with junior R.J. Oliver, followed by Chris Barbour in the second spot and Jalil McDougald in the no. 3 spot.
The left tackle is Nelson Pringle, a junior. The left guard is R.J. Scott, a junior. The center is Travis Helton, a freshman. The right guard is senior Mike Berry and the right tackle is sophomore Wyatt McAbee.
There are obviously some untested performers there and these young players will be tested.
The top O-line reserves are senior Sergio Regalado and 11th grader Dashawn Brown.
The four-back - or slot positions - will be manned by Kyran Adams, a senior, and Jake Hughes, a tenth grader.
The split ends are Kelonte Gutrich, a junior, and Dezmon Edmunds, a senior. The wide receiver reserves are Jarvis Owens and William Brooks.
Smith is the starting quarterback, followed by Adams.
The running back group could be productive. This group includes junior Tyrus Pannell, junior Justin Logan, senior Roland Brandon and promising freshman Jamal Brandon.
The running back reserves are Mister Higgins and Marcus Terry.
Vogt noted the skill positions will rotate heavily, without a true no. 1 or 2 at those positions.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Former JMU place-kicker Cameron Starke is helping with the kickers and special teams.
Isak Schafer, an outstanding performer for the HCHS varsity soccer team, is expected to be the long term solution at place-kicker. He is said to be talented, but raw in terms of football skills.
Roland Brandon will handle the punter. D. Edmunds and J. Brandon will handle the return duties.
Schafer may not be available for the opening weekend. Kyle Epps looms as possibility if this situation occurs.
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