FOOTBALL PREVIEW: Buckingham Knights aim at playoff run
Published 12:01 pm Friday, August 25, 2023
The Buckingham Knights are traditionally considered one of the top contenders in both the James River District and Class 2 level. The 2022 squad finished 8-3 overall, achieving its fourth straight winning season. Their three losses all came to quality opponents in Appomattox, Central-Lunenburg and Central-Woodstock, which ended their season in the opening round of the playoffs by a count of 17-12. Those three teams went a combined 33-8 overall.
Now, the Knights wipe the slate clean with sights set on making a splash in 2023 after graduating roughly 13 senior starters, many of whom had a significant impact.
“We’re younger this year than we have been in a while. We’ve got more sophomores this year than I can remember. I think we have a good core group that I’m excited about,” Wilkerson stated.
“We’re going to need some of those sophomores to grow up pretty quick and play some key roles. The main thing is they just need reps. We’ll use the film from these two scrimmages we’ve got and go from there.”
Buckingham Knights set the tone
Two seniors, linemen KorDonte’ Williams and Ethan Martin, return in the trenches for Buckingham to set the tone. Williams, who is drawing recruiting attention from a host of schools that include Hampden-Sydney, is coming off a stellar junior campaign where he posted 65 tackles, 11 stops for loss, five sacks, three fumble recoveries and two forced fumbles.
“He’s just a great all-around kid. He went from starting at quarterback his sophomore year when we got out of COVID and then his junior year we asked him to play offensive line. He had no problems with it and ended up being All-Region on the offensive and defensive line,” Wilkerson relayed.
“I don’t know too many players who would take that kind of change the way he did. We just told him we needed him on offensive line, he said ‘Yes, Coach,’ and that was it.”
Defensively, Buckingham really shined during its seven-game winning streak last year when they held opponents to just 7.4 points per game. They’re optimistic some new faces will step up around their two line leaders, Williams and fellow senior Demorris Eubanks, as well as sophomore DE/TE Emerson Edwards and junior linebacker Will Motley.
Replacing the rushing production of Kymeir Lockett and Kenneth ‘K.J.’ Williams, who together rushed for more than 2000 yards a season ago, won’t be an easy task for the Knights. Wilkerson mentioned they have about eight different running backs in the equation. Their preseason scrimmages with Class 3 contender Brookville and Luray will give them a better idea of where they stand in terms of the depth chart.
“We’re going to find out in these scrimmages who’s going to get the majority of the carries,” Wilkerson said.
Focusing on QBs and WRs
Senior Zahir Chambers will be used at quarterback after enjoying moderate success both throwing and running with the football during last year.
He’ll have a capable group of receivers, headlined by junior Jayden Maxey, sophomore Amare Gough and senior Jarrod Gaines.
Buckingham opens its season on August 25 at home against Appomattox, a perennial powerhouse in Class 2. Appomattox has won five of the past eight state titles at the Class 2 level, including three straight from 2015-17. The Knights then play Madison County, William Campbell and Fluvanna before their district opener at Central Lunenburg on September 22.
Regardless of who lines up on Friday nights or who the opposition is, the aspirations don’t change for the Buckingham Knights.
“Our goals remain the same. Win the district and advance in the playoffs,” Wilkerson commented. “Our main thing is we’re just trying to get better each day. We’re ready to get it rolling.”
To read the entire 2023 High School Football Preview click here.