Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local Sports

October 20, 2012

Graham blanks Bland County

BASTIAN, Va. — After winning as underdogs last Friday night, the Graham G-Men did not want to let this week’s underdog out of the doghouse.

Mission accomplished.

The G-Men scored touchdowns on four of their first eight offensive plays, and put away the Bland County Bears by a final score of 40-0 in a Mountain Empire District contest in Bastian.

Graham head coach Mike Williams said, “It’s tough for a school the size of Bland to compete with larger schools. But I’ve got a lot of respect for Coach (Harris) Hart and his program.”

He showed it by putting his “twos,” or second-team players, into the offense late in the first quarter.

The Bears’ starting defense included seven sophomores and one freshman.

Hart said about Graham, “Obviously, they’re more athletic, bigger, stronger, more mature than we are. They play hard. They play well.”

“I certainly appreciate that they substituted like they did, and gave their kids a chance to play.”

Graham had one fumble in the game, and it came on the opening kickoff, recovered by the Bears’ Ben Harless. But Bland County fumbled its chance away after one minute of play, and Jake Tibbs gathered it in for the G-Men.

On the next play, Graham’s Cody Hatfield sliced through the middle of the line for a 68-yard score.

Graham quarterback Spencer Sheets took the next offensive snap for the G-Men 42 yards on a sweep play, and he ran five yards for Graham’s third score with 4:08 still remaining in the first quarter.

Hatfield succeeded on two-point conversion runs after each of those scores.

Williams said, “We went for two early on, so we could get enough points that we felt comfortable making the switch (to the second-unit players).

“We haven’t had a chance to play our twos all year, and they practice hard ... . We were real happy to get those guys in tonight, and they did a great job. They kept Bland off the scoreboard.

“Our offense moved the ball well, with the twos, and it gave us a chance to look at some guys and to get a taste of varsity football.”

Sheets said, “I’m really glad that everyone got to go out there and play. Everyone’s put in their time and hours ... and they’ve been here every day.”     

He added, “... They did what they were supposed to. They scored and they did great and I’m just really proud of them.”

Kyshan Lee ran off right guard for a seven-yard touchdown in the final minute of the first quarter, giving Graham a 30-0 lead.

Bryce Farris recovered Bland County’s third fumble, setting up a six-yard drive ending with a scoring pass from Roman Workman to Josh Altizer.

Samuel Stowers added the point-after kick and the half ended 37-0.

Stowers booted a 36-yard field goal, straight through the middle of the uprights, to end the scoring with 45 seconds left in the third quarter. The kick was set up when Graham’s Tim Clarke recovered the sixth and final Bland County fumble with slightly over three minutes left.

The second half was played with a running clock.

In the final minute, Graham safety Jack Poe intercepted the only pass thrown by Bland County’s Mason Christian and returned it 25 yards.

The only glaring negative for Graham was in the penalty phase of the game. The G-Men were flagged nine times, six of them for encroachment into the neutral zone by the defense.

Williams said, “We lined up in the neutral zone, what seemed like all night. I mean, we’ve got to fix that. We’ve got to play well, because we’ve got a big one next week against Fort Chiswell.”

Sheets was done for the night after one pass completion and two runs, both for touchdowns. Hatfield remained on the sidelines after two carries for 74 yards.

Michael Thompson got one carry, which ended in the Bears’ end zone after a 60-yard run, but the score and the last 35 yards were wiped out by a holding penalty.

One of the twos, sophomore fullback Dylan Cook, was called upon for seven runs and bulled for 40 yards.

Williams said, “Dylan’s a good football player. He’s played some with our first offense, off and on, all season as well. He’s the youngest of our fullbacks, so we gave him the brunt of the load.

“He ran hard. He always hits hard and blocks hard. He had a good game tonight. I’m glad he got those carries.”

Cook said playing high school football is “not like anything else. It’s just my favorite thing to do. I love playing football.”

For the Bears, Harless had 13 carries for a team-high 51 yards and quarterback Dylan Walker gained 19 yards on 10 determined rushes.

He was injured after his longest run, which went for 11 yards and a first down, but he returned to lead his offense again.

Hart said, “He’s taken a beating but he just keeps playing hard. It’s not his natural position, quarterback, but he tries his hardest.”

Sophomore Dakota Wright paced the Bland County defense with at least seven tackles.

He said, “I wanted to have fun. I  wanted to make a bunch of hits that people wanted to see, and to make my team proud — and to make my family proud.”

That included his father Herman Wright, who played football for Pocahontas High School, he said.

Cook said, “They didn’t give up. They were working hard. But we just outplayed them.”

Last season, in its first year in the Mountain Empire District, Graham defeated the Bears 31-0 in Bland County’s first visit to Mitchell Stadium.

The G-Men have now completed the road portion of their regular season. Graham will host Fort Chiswell next Friday night and Narrows will visit on Nov. 2.

Williams said, “We’ll enjoy this one, and then look at the film and learn from it. You learn whether you win or lose. And then we’ll gear up for Fort Chiswell.”

Sheets said, “The next two games, all these last games go toward the playoffs and help us with seeding. So we’re going to take every game the same and hopefully we can come out and win all of them.”

Cook said, “We need to do the best we can.”

The Bears will play at Galax next Friday and will end the regular season on Nov. 2 at home against Fort Chiswell.

Hart said, Hart said, “I’m proud of our kids. They kept playing, our coaches kept coaching, and our team improved.”

He said his plans for the coming week are “the same thing we’ve done all year. They’ll come out here and practice hard, and keep working, and keep trying hard right on through to the end of the season.”

— Contact Tom Bone at

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