Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local Sports

September 19, 2013

Tall task ahead as Blue Tornado visits Lord Botetourt

RICHLANDS, Va. — The Richlands football team grew up a little last week against the Graham G-Men for their second win of the season.

Richlands made a second half comeback against the G-Men to edge their Tazewell County rivalry, 27-26.

No time to celebrate though, as the Blue Tornado (2-1) will hit the road tonight for Lord Botetourt, which is located in Daleville, Va., just above Roanoke.

The Cavaliers are undefeated at 3-0 on the season. Lord Botetourt scored 98 points in their first two games of the season, blanking James River and Rustburg who weren’t able to manufacture a score.

That was followed by a win over Glenvar last week.

“We know it’s going to be a challenge for us to come out with a win (against Lord Botetourt),” Richlands head coach Greg Mance said.

Mance worked to adjust his schedule this season after a pair of early playoff exits that could be blamed on facing lackluster competition in the regular season.

“We looked at our schedule two or three years ago. We get beat in the region championship and then last year we get beat in the first round, but we lost two dynamic players in Gray Baker and A.J. Johnson,” Mance said. “When we got to that level, our kids couldn’t get off the blocks and we weren’t ready for that resistance an before you knew it we were down by 14 points. So, we thought revamping our schedule would help us.”

Lord Botetourt is coming off a win Friday night over Glenvar, which scored the first points of the season against the Cavaliers with a 61-yard pass play. The Cavaliers came back with two unanswered touchdowns to take a 16-10 lead by the break.

Glenvar evened the game in the third quarter before the Cavaliers scored 22 points in the fourth quarter to get the win.

Much of Lord Botetourt’s success has come on the legs of running back Chris Thompson who added 222 yards to his season stats against Glenvar. Thompson scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter rally after kicking an extra point in the first half and running in a pair two-point conversions.

“The Thompson kid is strong and he’ll run over top of you,” Mance said. “They’re about 6-foot-4 up front and they average about 260-pounds across the line and very aggressive, strong kids and both of their tight ends are strong and they block extremely well.”

Thompson has rushed for 578 yards in three games. He had more than 300 yards against Rustburg in the second game of the season and scored four touchdowns.

“Defensively, they’re very athletic, they’re tall and lanky and they just get after you and very athletic in the secondary. It’s going to be a challenge for us and that’s what we want and that’s why we scheduled Lord Botetourt,” Mance said.

Lord Botetourt is coached by Jamie Harless, an All-America performer at Emory & Henry College.

“We knew Jamie Harless went there from Cave Spring and he’s an All-American from Emory and Henry,” Mance said. “He played at Abingdon (High School) and he did a great job with Cave Spring and their defense.

We knew they would be a solid team, a Division 3 school with about 1100 to 1200 kids.”

Richlands improved to 2-1 with a hard-fought win over Graham last Friday.

“Graham has a good football team and if you look at their lineup, they have over 20 seniors...,” Mance said. “They’re solid at every position and their quarterback, Colby Hill, does a good job getting the ball where it needs to go and I thought defensively we didn’t play well in the first half.

“They just came out and stomped us off the football and then at halftime, we made some adjustments and challenged our kids and played much better. I thought our secondary, Benny Brown and Corie Alicie did a good job shutting their receivers down.

“Frank Taylor and Benjamin Culpeper did an outstanding job at inside linebacker making plays for us and Dustin Carty at defensive end did a real good job.”

Richlands was led offensively by Colton Staten on the ground with 174 yards on 27 carries with a touchdown. Staten has over 500 yards in three games this season and he’s averaging over seven yards every time he touches the ball.

Staten injured his shoulder in the loss to Graham and won’t play tonight. He will be replaced in the starting lineup by Griffin McCauley.

“Offensively, we missed some opportunity for some touchdowns with dropped passes,” Mance said. “River (Michaels) executed well and got the ball where it was supposed to go without turnovers, he scrambled and made a big play in the fourth to keep a drive alive when he hit Benny Brown for a big gain and he put balls on receivers shoulders and we have to catch those.”

That game had been dedicated to Gray Baker, the former Graham quarterback, who was the signal-caller for Richlands for seven games last season before suffering a knee injury. He was injured again before the opener, and will miss the season with a similar ailment.

“We worked on crucial situations in that game,” Mance added. “When you get in those situations, seniors, juniors, somebody’s got to step up and settle things down. We had dedicated the game ball to Gray Baker and the kids came out in the second half and said we were not going to give Gray a game ball with a loss.”

Mance could be planning an excursion to Virginia Tech on Saturday to see former Richlands standout Devon Johnson, who is now a tight end at Marshall. He hopes to be in a good mood for the Hokies and Herd.

“It should be a good challenge for our kids and hopefully we can take a big crowd with us,” Mance said. “Maybe they can go down and shop, spend the night and see Devon Johnson play against the Hokies on Saturday.”

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