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Statesmen fall to finish 1-9

The 2019 season came to a conclusion for Randolph-Henry High School’s (R-H) varsity football team on Friday night, Nov. 8, with a 54-12 loss to host Amelia County High School.

“I thought the kids really played hard and really played pretty well (in) the first half of the ballgame,” Statesmen Head Coach Zach Orlando said of his players. “And Amelia did a couple things that really hurt us. They had an onside kick in(stalled) that we hadn’t really seen on film that got us twice.”

Nevertheless, the Statesmen offense made a big impact early as junior quarterback Peter Jones connected with senior wide receiver Antwan Boyd for a 52-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter.

“So that was a big momentum-builder right there,” Orlando said, but the Raiders were able to respond with multiple touchdowns. “Then we were down 28-6 and drove the whole length of the field right before halftime and ended up scoring and made it 28-12.”

It had appeared that Randolph-Henry had reclaimed some of the momentum, but the half was not quite over.

“Then we gave up a big return on the ensuing kickoff, and then they scored on the first play,” Orlando said. “So we go in(to halftime) an extra touchdown down than we should have been.

“But overall, some of our problems that we have had throughout this year — and, really, throughout the last three years — kind of bit us at times,” he continued. “But I thought the kids really played hard, and I thought they played really well in the first half, for sure.”

In highlighting standouts for the Statesmen, Orlando honed in on some of his team’s familiar offensive leaders.

“I thought Peter Jones played a pretty good game at quarterback,” he said.

Jones went 7-for-20 passing for 118 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He also ran the ball five times for 14 yards and a score.

More was asked of Jones this year in terms of passing, and in multiple games, he produced impressive performances.

“We put some pressure on him by going to that five wide (formation), but at the same point, he was a kid that we thought could handle doing that too,” Orlando said.

Jones had been highlighted by his coach, before the season started, as a leader on the team.

“I think Peter’s always been a lead-by-an-example kind of guy,” Orlando said. “(We’re) still trying to get him to do just a little bit more talking and orchestrating of the overall picture, but he’s always been a guy that kind of quietly leads.”

Another standout jumped to mind for Orlando in addition to Jones.

“I thought Tyshaundre Walton really had a good game at the wing back position,” he said. “Both of those guys really made some plays on the offensive side of the ball that were big plays.”

Walton finished with 10 carries for 56 yards.

Freshman halfback Maurice Hurt recorded seven carries for 56 yards and one catch for 22 yards. Junior wing back Justen Staten had two receptions for 21 yards.

Randolph-Henry finished the season with an overall record of 1-9, making this the third straight year the Statesmen have ended with that record.

Orlando reflected on the season, giving an assessment of the positives and the negatives.

“We were in more ballgames than we were previously,” he said. “I think you can see the improvement in certain areas of the game. I thought we really improved overall in special teams this year.

“And I think everybody — players and coaches — had a little bit more frustration this year because we felt like this was a year where we could turn the corner and get a couple more Ws,” he continued. “But we had a lot of stuff go on that was out of our control, and the kids continued to come back and fight and play, and so you can’t be mad at that.”

The third-year Statesmen head coach gave some examples of variables out of the team’s control.

“We had some kids move,” he said. “We had one kid transfer that was going to be a big player for us, and we had a couple kids (that) decided they weren’t going to play this year. There’s just not but so much you can do in those situations. All you can do as a coach is say, ‘Hey, we’d really like to have you out there, and this is what you supply to us, and this is the benefit of playing high school football.’ But at a certain point, if a kid decides that they want to work or they want to prepare themselves for another sport or something like that, then there’s just not but so much that you can do on that.”