By BOB REDD
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
The Bluefield Beavers (2-1) leave Mercer County for the first time this football season, journeying to Fairlea to take on the 3-1 Class AAA Greenbrier East Spartans.
The Beavers are coming off a 61-7 win over Gate City, while the Spartans defeated Parry McCluer, a Class A school from Virginia, 55-49.
“Their quarterback (Isaiah Kinder) is the key to their team,” said BHS head coach Fred Simon. “He does a nice job. They spread the field and he’s good at getting out of the pocket, staying in the pocket, throwing the ball, running the ball. They get in the I-formation some and do a nice job and running the football and him booting it a little bit, so that’s the key, stopping him.”
On the season Kinder has run for 280 yards, averaging 7.8 yards a carry. When he passes he has completed 54-of-100 for 861 yards and nine touchdowns against two interceptions.
In addition to Kinder running the ball, Greenbrier East has Dalton Cline, the fourth leading rusher in Class AAA with 674 yards on 76 carries, good for an 8.9 yards per carry average.
Talking about the Spartans’ receivers, Simon said, “They’re good players. They’re not real fast, but they’re fast enough to hurt you. They get open, they’ve got good hands, they definitely keep moving to get the ball because Kinder is so accurate with his throws. He waits till the final second if he has to and he’ll get it right there on the money.”
There may be some concern for the Beavers because they will be playing without two starting defensive backs, D.J. Edwards and Justin Carter, who are sitting out this game, along with Bryan Morris for disciplinary reasons, according to Simon.
Edwards is also the team’s leading receiver with 10 receptions and second leading rusher behind D.J. Stewart. Carter is also the starting split end and Morris is a starting linebacker and punter.
The series between Bluefield and Greenbrier East dates to 1971, when GEHS opened. The two teams played each season until 2001. The schools revived the series in 2009 and Bluefield has won all four meetings since. The Beavers hold a 27-8 series lead over the Spartans. Simon said there is no need to stress series history to the team because regardless of the opponent, the Beavers will always take to the field with their game face on.
“We’re always going to go out and play our best,” Simon said. “It doesn’t matter who we are playing. We’ve got to do our job. Whatever their position is, they’ve got to do their job and they’ve got to do it as good as they can and that’s really what we are focused on. There is no secret formula to getting fired up for this, or down for that, it’s just a matter of doing your job when you’re asked.”
Simon said the key for the Beavers is the play of the offensive line.
“They’ve just got to block and receivers have got to block for each other and the backs have got to block and execute our offense, no matter what it is,” Simon said. “Catch the ball and give the quarterback time to throw. That will be a key too.”
A bright spot for Bluefield this season has been the play of Francisco Desiderio, the team’s kicker and an exchange student from Italy. Simon talked of the team’s international component.
“He’s smart. I haven’t dealt with him but just for the short period of time from the beginning of August on, but he listens and he catches on real quickly to what we want. He does a heck of a job for us. He’s fun to coach because ‘This is what we’d like, Frankie,’ and it’s done. It’s a unique situation,” Simon said.
“He’s played soccer but he didn’t want to play soccer here. I wouldn’t have minded him going back and forth with soccer, but he chose, I guess because he has never played, he looked forward to playing football and that’s what he has done and he has been a great addition for us.”
Desiderio has made 16 extra point attempts this season and will handle punting duties tonight at Greenbrier East.
Kickoff from Fairlea is scheduled for 7:30.