Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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August 31, 2012

Beavers look to limit mistakes

BLUEFIELD — Week one, Graham; week two, Princeton; big rivalry games in consecutive weeks to open the football season for the Bluefield High School Beavers.

Coach Fred Simon and the Beavers look for win No. 1 in the 2012 season as the Princeton Tigers and new head coach Randy Peek visit Mitchell Stadium, Friday night.

In week one the Beavers received a jolt, losing 23-21 to the cross-town Graham G-Men. Trailing most of the second half the Beavers drove the field in the game’s final minute, but Justin Mariotti’s field goal attempt sailed wide left and it was Graham celebrating on the turf of Mitchell Stadium, their first win over the Beavers since the 2008 season.

Bluefield will be hungry as the Tigers visit. Last season at Hunnicutt Stadium, Princeton downed Bluefield 23-7, a game that many Beaver faithful point to as the win that kept the Beavers out of the playoffs for the first time since 2001.

With a new staff in Princeton, Simon and the Beavers expect to see some new things from the Tigers.

“They spread you out,” Simon said. “(Jay) Palmer and Tahj (Sho-Johnson) both are very good at quarterback and running back. You have to contain them, you have to tackle them. They are going to get some yardage, there’s no doubt about it. We just hope to contain them and not give up big plays and we have to score some points.”

Princeton fell 32-14 at Woodrow Wilson in their season opener last week in Beckley, but Simon believes that is not an indication of the talent and skills possessed by Princeton.

“I think Princeton lost to a real good team, they’ve got nothing to be ashamed of,” Simon said. “I think Woodrow Wilson has got a real good football team.”

One concern Simon has going into the game is protecting the ball. Bluefield lost two fumbles, one for a touchdown, and muffed a kick for a safety against Graham. He said the team has to cut out turnovers.

“We can’t turn the ball over like we did last week,” Simon said. “We just can’t do it. And we’ve got to tackle. I think if we tackle and we block, which are the main things, and we don’t turn it over, we’ll have a chance to win.”

Quarterback D.J. Edwards rushed for 139 yards against Graham, and completed 2-of-4 passes for eight yards. R.J. Bourne completed one pass for 59 yards, his only attempt, to Johnny David which put Bluefield deep into Graham territory in the waning moments of the game.

Tailback Montel Leggett ran eight times for 54 yards, but only carried twice in the second half.

Despite losing to the G-Men, Simon said there were positives that came out of the game.

“I felt our effort was good,” Simon said. “I thought our kids played hard and we got in a situation where we could have probably quit. We never quit, we kept hanging in there. We just can’t turn it over.

“Everything that could happen to us wrong, happened. I’ve never seen anything like it. It wasn’t our kids fault all the time, it was just the plays that they (Graham) made. We tried, so I’m proud of our players. We’ll keep doing that and we’re going to be okay.”

Bluefield looks to have the services of Corey Coppolo, linebacker and tight end, who was ruled ineligible to play just prior to the Graham kickoff. Coppolo a transfer from Graham, has received the green light from the WVSSAC and will be on the field against Princeton.

Though Princeton runs a spread offense now, in past years the Tigers have turned to a power formation against the Beavers where they bring an offensive lineman in and have two fullbacks in front of a tailback. That formation has proven to be an effective tool for Princeton against Bluefield and Simon would not be surprised to see it from Princeton, just as the Beavers saw it from Graham.

“If they do turn to that, we saw enough of it last week, I think, to be ready,” Simon said. “If they don’t then we’ll be ready for the spread.”

Other than the usual bumps and bruises, Simon said the team is healthy and ready to take on its cross-county rival for the 84th time.

Kickoff is slated for 7:30.

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