Statesmen fall 20-8

Published 10:20 am Thursday, October 17, 2019

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Randolph-Henry High School’s (R-H) varsity football team gave itself a chance at its first victory of the season Friday, Oct. 11, but host Bluestone High School was able to hold on and pull away late for a 20-8 victory over the Statesmen.

“Over the last four weeks, we’ve done some stuff better every game, but then we’ve kind of done some stuff worse every game in those four games that (has) kind of compounded,” Randolph-Henry Head Coach Zach Orlando said. “I thought we did a really nice job with keeping our composure (Friday), because Bluestone can be a very kind of edgy game for us in a hostile environment. I thought our kids did a pretty good job with that.

“We started off the game with an onside kick,” he continued. “We had a really good shot at it, and we just didn’t end up coming up with it. But then we were able to get a stop, and I thought we played very well, defensively, for most of the game. Offensively, we played well in the first half. We just had two key fumbles that stopped drives for us, and then the second half, we just had a hard time getting anything going, offensively.

“I think the two of those things compound each other,” he added. “You kind of look at it and go like, if we just played a little bit better complementary football, we probably walk out of there with a ‘W.’”

He illustrated just how close Friday’s game was by recounting the final period.

“That game was 7-0 going into the fourth quarter,” he said. “And then they scored again, so then it was 13-0, and then we immediately scored and made it 13-8 with about probably a little bit over two minutes left, and so we kicked the onside (kick), and it was a terrible onside kick.”

The Statesmen put points on the board when junior quarterback Peter Jones connected with sophomore halfback Chris Redd on a 64-yard touchdown pass. Jones ran in the two-point conversion on a quarterback sneak.

Reflecting on his team’s late-game scoring, Orlando said, “We responded. It’s just like it took us a little bit too long to wake up, offensively, to figure out, ‘This is what we need to do.’”

Jones finished with 14 carries for 46 yards, and he also went 3-for-14 passing for 71 yards and a touchdown. Junior running back Justen Staten had 13 carries for 81 yards.

Randolph-Henry was once again without injured junior running back Ryetwan Callaham, who Orlando noted is a key difference-maker for the Statesmen on offense.

“Against Bluestone, I thought we had some kind of advantages in certain areas, and I think that we exploited those advantages, but the one disadvantage we had is they were faster than us by quite a bit,” Orlando said. “I thought we were better up front than them, but that kid, No. 40 for them, that plays linebacker, he’s a stud. He absolutely killed us.”

The coach was referring to Barons senior linebacker/running back Neil Clayton Jr.

Leading Randolph-Henry on defense was junior lineman Cam Locey with 15 tackles, including 11 solo and five for a loss.

The defeat dropped the Statesmen to 0-7 for the year.

“We’re in the same spot that we’ve been in the last two years, and it’s been harder this year, and I think it’s been harder on the kids, I think it’s been harder on the coaches,” Orlando said. “Because coming into the season, we really thought that this was the year, not necessarily that we were going to just start winning eight, nine games, but we really thought we were going to see some turnaround in the win column this year. It just so happens our turnaround has come in the fact that last year, out of the 10-game schedule, we’re probably in three of those games. And this year, out of seven games so far, we’ve been in four of them, and we’re definitely going to be in one more, at least, with Cumberland. And so we’re upping it on that side, it’s just we just can’t quite find a way to get over the hump.”

R-H will visit Buckingham County High School (5-1) on Friday, Oct. 18, with kickoff set for 7 p.m.

Orlando said he has seen a great deal of film on the Knights.

“They run, offensively, pretty much what we run,” he said. “They’re very good defensively. The kid that is No. 20 for them is a very, very very good player. In my opinion, he’s the best player in the district, and it’s not even close.”

He was referring to Knights senior running back/linebacker Walter Edwards.

Orlando also offered praise for Buckingham junior quarterback Gerry Toney and junior wide receiver/kick returner Xavier Copeland.

To some extent, the Statesmen may be struggling health-wise entering this game; Callaham may still be out.

“Our kids, they play both ways on pretty much every facet of football, and they’re banged up,” Orlando said.