POWHATAN – Whenever Blessed Sacrament Huguenot’s football players have set foot onto the practice field this year, the competition has been fierce. Head coach Gary Brock said that their players will give their offense fits.
“These young kids now have the confidence to say: Hey, I can keep up with them,” Brock said, “and so it has really, really helped us out as far as depth goes.”
And the competition in practice and the depth across the board has definitely helped the Knights in all of their matchups this fall. Playing in front of a packed home crowd on Homecoming, BSH remained unbeaten this past Friday when it routed Richmond Christian 60-6.
“It means a lot – it puts us high up in the seeding, it gives us good position in the playoffs, I think all-around it just helps in the best way possible,” said Zander Nadeau, who had five carries for 120 yards and three touchdowns for BSH (7-0). “It was a great team win. It started a bit slow, but we all really came together as we always do. It was a hard-fought win and I’m proud of them.”
Once the Knights overcame an onside recovery by the Warriors on the opening kickoff and a first-quarter fumble that gave Richmond Christian short field, the BSH offense became unstoppable. After Josh Decker (seven carries for 64 yards and a touchdown) recovered a Warriors’ fumble near the red zone and returned it to the Knights’ 33, Nadeau gave the home team both the lead and the momentum for good. On the first sweep that his team ran, Nadeau received the snap, saw a hole, took it, broke a few tackles and set sail the rest of the way to complete a 67-yard touchdown romp.
After Garrett Musselman tackled the Warriors’ ball carrier to force a turnover on downs for the second time in the first quarter, Nadeau capped an 11-play, 52-yard drive when he danced his way into the end zone from 4 yards out.
Another turnover on downs gave the Knights a 37-yard short field. BSH quarterback Afton Harrow dished out back-to-back passes to David Mann and Hunter Case to push his team up to the Warriors’ 20-yard line, and Decker broke loose on a 20-yard sprint for a rushing touchdown that helped elevate his team’s advantage to 24-0.
“We’re getting down to the last three ballgames, people are looking at the film – they’re going to pack the box (against us),” Brock said. “It was a little frustrating because everything that we had done inside had worked on the other ballgames, but this, we had to look at it and say: okay…we’ve got to go outside, we’ve got to throw a couple times, things like that, and try to loosen things up. Then after we did that, things started materializing. The kids played a good ballgame.”
After Decker’s touchdown, Harrison Lee recovered his Knights’ onside kick, setting up his team on the Warriors’ 47. After Decker carved out 11 yards on the next rush, Nadeau zoomed through another hole and sprinted across the clear green field for a 36-yard touchdown and his third score within the first 17 minutes of game time.
“We’ve been working for almost four years – a lot of our seniors are linemen. They’ve just been working for years,” Nadeau said of his offensive line. “They’ve gotten really big, really strong, and they’re able to move a lot of guys. They work really hard…the line is mainly why we do it.”
In the third quarter, Nathan Roberts’ fumble recovery on the Warriors’ 4th-and-long play set up a 9-yard drive for the Knights. The home team capped it with Harrow’s 6-yard strike to David Mann who had gotten behind the defenders in the end zone for the team’s lone passing touchdown of the night.
After Ethan Bishop delivered a sack for the Knights, Lee picked off the quarterback and took the interception more than 50 yards to the house for the pick-6 touchdown.
“It was fun, it really was, to see these kids come together, and they were all cheering for each other,” Brock said.
On the Warriors’ next drive, Gage Smith tackled the ball carrier to force yet another turnover on downs, and two plays after Patrick Maynes, celebrating his birthday, caught his first career pass on a 6-yard reception, Case barreled 41 yards to the end zone to help his team lead by more than 50 points.
Will Fichter scored the Knights’ last touchdown of the night on a goal-line rush.
The Warriors picked up their first touchdown of the game with 49 seconds remaining.
The Knights scored all six of their two-point conversions on runs. Case had three, Decker had two and Lee had one.
The Knights’ defense epitomized their season-long standout play with Friday’s incendiary performance. Smith racked up 16 tackles with two for loss, Musselman terrorized the quarterback and dished out 12 tackles, Harrow and Lee each had eight tackles and Roberts and Bishop each had six.
Roberts forced both fumbles that the Knights recovered and also had a sack. Smith, Bishop, Musselman, Decker and Mann were in on the other four team sacks.
The Warriors, trailing 32-0 right before the half, had pushed up to the Knights’ 5-yard line with less than a minute to go in the second quarter. But Mann and Smith pushed the quarterback back to the 10 and forced the Warriors to rush out the fourth-down play and the final play of the half with no timeouts left. From there, Roberts and Smith got to the quarterback in time to end the quarter and bring up halftime.
“The defense definitely is the key – they’ve been the key for…the second half of the season…there’s no question,” Brock said. “They come together, they’re playing well together. We’ve just got to keep everybody healthy – that’s the biggest thing.”
The Knights will play at Southampton Academy on Friday, Oct. 22, at 7 p.m.