By BOB REDD
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Game No. 9 for the Bluefield Beavers is a match up against the Mavericks of James Monroe. In years past this game has had significant playoff implications with both teams at times being ranked No. 1 and the other in the top five, but there is no such spotlight on this year’s contest, however it is important to both teams.
For the Beavers (7-1) a win keeps the team in the top three and sets up a big game next week at No. 1 Wayne. For the Mavericks (2-6) it’s a chance to knock off a rival and maintain the storied tradition of James Monroe hard-nosed football.
Last Friday, Bluefield gained a big win, knocking off then-No. 10 AAA Oak Hill 51-50 on Justin Mariotti’s 19 yard field goal with seconds remaining. D.J. Stewart rushed for 144 yards and Montel Leggett rushed for 147 to lead the potent Bluefield ground attack that amassed 414 yards. Johnny David added 74 and quarterback D.J. Edwards ran for another 42.
On the season Bluefield has rushed for 3,134 yards on 317 attempts, averaging 9.9 yards per carry, nearly a first down every time it runs the ball. Leggett leads the way with 1,143 yards, followed by David (546), Stewart (491) and Edwards (432).
Beavers head coach Fred Simon gives credit to all the backs and the line.
“They are all running hard, all of the backs, and they are all blocking hard,” Simon said. “The line is blocking hard, the receivers are blocking hard and it’s an excellent team effort from everybody. We’re seeing the backs run their guts out with a lot of blocking going on to get that.”
After winning its opening game against Narrows, James Monroe has dropped six of its last seven games, including last week’s 27-20 decision at Liberty Raleigh. The Mavericks rely on the run game and are led by running back Micah Deskins. Simon knows that regardless of the James Monroe record, the Mavericks will come to fight.
“They will be well-coached and they will play hard. That’s what we have to be ready for,” Simon commented.
When asked what the Beavers need to do to come from Lindside with win No. 8 on the season, Bluefield’s veteran coach said, “Play, play our best. That’s what we’ve been doing. If we play our best, I think we’ll be okay.”
Neither Simon nor the Beavers seem to be looking past tonight’s game to next week’s opponent, Wayne. The team is focused on the task at hand.
“We’ve got to take them one at a time, one practice at a time, one game at a time,” Simon said. “We want to go to Wayne 8-1, that’s what we want to do.”
Riding a seven game winning streak, Simon believes the team has taken it’s success in stride.
“I think they’ve taken it very well,” Simon observed. “They practice well, they’re trying hard, they listen, they’re a good bunch of guys. I felt that they were going to be good guys the whole time. I saw some good, positive things going. No matter what we do, we’ve always got things to work on. What I like about this bunch is they listen and they try.”