Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local Sports

October 19, 2013

Peoples to draw attention of G-Men

BLUEFIELD, Va. — There will be plenty of people at Graham’s home football game today at Mitchell Stadium against Galax.

One of those People(s) has especially attracted the attention of the G-Men; Galax senior running back and defensive back Steven Peoples.

“He is a tough runner and fast, he has got a good combination of strength and speed,” Graham head coach Mike Williams said. “I would say he is probably one of the best individual players we will play against.”

Graham (3-3, 1-0) will make a rare Saturday afternoon appearance, with the Maroon Tide (2-4, 0-1) in town for a 1:30 p.m.

Williams gave the G-Men their orders for Friday night.

“I think it is important for our kids to treat Friday night like a Thursday,” Williams said. “I think they need to go home, rest and get to bed. I think the team that treats Friday night like Friday night before a Saturday game is going to be in trouble.”

The Mark Dixon-coached Maroon Tide enters with a 2-4 record and three losses in a row, but consider those defeats have come against Altavista, Giles and Fort Chiswell, who are a combined 17-1 on the season.

“I don’t think their record is at all indicative of what kind of team they are...,” Williams said. “I think they are probably just as good as they were a year ago, maybe even better, but they made a conscientious choice to take on a hard schedule probably similar to us in hopes it will pay dividends in the playoffs...

“He has got a good team and a good program. I am sure they will go to the playoffs. They may not be a high seed, but they will be a low seed that no one wants to face.”

Leading the Maroon Tide is Peoples, a 5-foot-11, 200-pound senior, who has run for 1,030 yards and 13 touchdowns this season, averaging 10.2 per carry and more than 200 yards a game. He also has 48.5 tackles for the Wave.

“Offensively, they are similar to us, they run a pro set,” Williams said. “They have got good players in multiple spots and of course the one you key on is Steven Peoples, more times than not he is going to get the football or take you to the football...

“Even when Peoples is not in, the tailbacks that sub in there run hard too.”

That includes Joseph Dixon, who has 579 yards and 11 scores, while Carson Orton has thrown for 542 yards and five touchdowns, but has completed just 37.3 percent of his pass attempts and thrown four picks.

They will face a Graham defense that created four turnovers last week, including three by Hunter Cook, who has 70 tackles on the season, trailing only Adam Carbaugh’s 78 for the team lead. Adrian Gray has been a terror in backfields, recording 12.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks.

“The big thing is you want to come out and jump on them fast,” Williams said. “It sounds like you are referencing offense, but really it means both.

“We need our kids to come and play inspired and with emotion and not wait until something occurs to kind of push that in.”

Graham, which defeated Galax 45-42 last season, is coming off a 26-22 win over Grayson County, rallying from a 16-point halftime deficit with Cook recording two interceptions and a fumble recovery, and Charlie Benfield, collecting for 180 yards and three touchdowns after the break.

The Graham offensive line may have had its best game of the season, recording an astounding 32 pancake blocks, including seven by Colin Beavers and five from Channing Mooney.

“I think the big thing in the Grayson game the offensive line kind of controlled the game...,” Williams said. “They controlled the line of scrimmage on offense and what that did in turn was play defense for us as well and kept their defense off the field.”

Benfield (506 yards, 6 td) and Dylan Cook (558, 6) provide the punch in the backfield for Graham, along with junior signal-caller Colby Hill (884 yards, 9 td). Freshman DeQuan Booker (18-280, 1 td) and Bryce Farris (13-238, 4 td) will catch the ball.

Peoples leads the Maroon Tide in tackles, while Daniel Larrowe has 46.5 on the season.

“Last week we were able to control the ball and win the turnover battle and it ultimately went our way,” said Williams, whose G-Men are hosting their third of four straight home games. “You are not going to win them all doing that, but you are going to win a bunch of them.

“We won one last week with ball control and winning turnovers and I think that is something we strive to do every week, especially against Galax.”

That could be the same prescription today, although Williams could do without the 16-point deficit the G-Men faced last week with Grayson County.

“That does a lot of for the kids, the more situations they can be in the better prepared they are,” Williams said. “When you have a locker room full of kids down by 16 at the half and then win the game, not only does it have an effect on this season, but kids down the road that come through that were part of this team will know they can do it.

“It is important that a team not get too down when they are behind or too up when they are ahead.”

Williams would like nothing better than for the G-Men play two halves today like they did in the second half last week in the comeback win.

“I am real proud of the kids, I am as proud of them for that effort as any since I have been here,” Williams said. “They showed a lot of wherewithal and character, they just played really good football.

“When our kids play their game I think we are tough to beat.”

—Contact Brian Woodson

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