MECHANICSVILLE – Henrico’s football team visited Atlee Thursday bearing gifts, and the Raiders were not in the least bit shy accepting them.
Atlee eagerly took advantage of Warrior mistakes, making Henrico pay dearly for its mistakes and penalties in earning a 17-0 season-opening win.
Henrico led in most offensive statistics: 160 to 104 total yards, 73 to 13 passing yards, 63 to 51 total plays. The two teams were roughly equal in terms of rushing yards, first downs, and third-down conversions.
But the Warriors had four turnovers – all interceptions – to none for Atlee, one blocked punt, a bad snaps and a fumble on a punt that repeatedly gave Atlee excellent field position deep in Warrior territory.
“Any win is a good win,” said Atlee head football coach Matt Gray. “Football’s a game of situations and you try to take advantage of everything you’re given in all those situations.”
Atlee’s first score followed one of Henrico’s earliest mistakes. On the Warriors’ first possession, they were stifled by Atlee’s defense. The snap was a bit short, and as the punter reached forward to snag the football, his knee hit the ground. The ball was ruled dead, and the Raiders took over.
Atlee running back Caleb Warren took Henrico’s first gift and ran 12 yards for the Raiders’ first score. Zach Tschantre’s conversion attempt was good, making the score 7-0.
For the most part, the Raiders controlled the line of scrimmage, both on offense and defense.
“I think we’ve got a good group,” Gray said. “I think we’ve got a special group of guys. I think we’ve got some talented guys. But I think what is most fun about this group is they’re extremely high character, they work really hard, and they play for each other.”
After a disastrous opening the Warriors rallied somewhat to keep Atlee from crossing the goal line. When a blocked Henrico punt gave the Raiders a first-and-goal at the Warrior 5, Henrico’s defense stiffened, forcing the Raiders to opt for a 23-yard field goal attempts. Atlee kicker Zach Tschantre’s aim was true, increasing the Raiders’ lead to 10-0.
The Raiders found success hitting the left side of the Warriors’ defensive line. But that wasn’t necessarily a weakness on Henrico’s part.
“They were being really aggressive on defense,” Gray said. “They’re good. That’s a good football team.
“We were trying to find things that were going to work, and when we found it, we stomped in the mud puddle until it was dry.”
Atlee could not get to the end zone in the second- and third quarters. A nearly 40-yard-long field goal attempt by Tschantre hit the crossbar and fell into the end zone.
Still, Henrico wasn’t finished with its gift-giving. A fumble on a fourth-quarter long snap gave the Raiders great field position one more time. Again, Warren unwrapped the present with a 2-yard touchdown run, and Tschantre added the point-after to make it 17-0.
Warren led the Raiders offensively with 15 carries for 75 yards and both Atlee touchdowns.
Dave Lawrence can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.