By BRIAN WOODSON
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
BLUEFIELD, Va. —
Those 502 yards are in the record book. So is the 54-7 loss to Galax.
Time to forget about it, and focus on the next game.
“That is a tough loss,” Graham head coach Mike Williams said. “All you can do it put it behind you and move on to the next game and that is what we are trying to do here and move on to the Bland County Bears.”
Graham (3-4, 1-1) will welcome the winless Bears (0-7, 0-2) to Mitchell Stadium tonight in what is the final home game of the season for the G-Men.
Williams, in his third season at Graham, has worked with the current batch of 15 or so seniors since their sophomore campaign.
“It has been a great group of kids, it has been fun watching them develop over the years and change their bodies,” Williams said. “Each year they have been here they have had that marquee win if you will...
“For the most part, these kids have been playing pretty significantly since I have been here.”
Those seniors face a potential must-win stretch of games over the next three weeks, with no guarantees for a Group 2A-West playoff berth, a fact Williams said the G-Men realize.
“I think they do. If we will just play to our potential and play good football I know the results will be fine,” Williams said. “When we have played well this year it has been well, it has been a little bit up and down.”
‘Down’ was the word in last week’s loss to Galax in which Steven Peoples set a VHSL single game rushing record with 502 yards, along with six touchdowns, and a seventh on a fumble return for the score.
“I think they played really super well and we played not so well, and that is going to lead to a pretty lopsided score,” said Williams, who said Peoples was the best player Graham has faced the last two seasons. “Hats off to him, he had an incredible game.
“Everybody is looking at the offensive stuff, which is true, but he played a heck of a game on defense too. That is about the single best game I have ever seen a high school kid have ever anywhere.”
Up next are a hungry group of Bears, who have lost 21 in a row, but Williams sees an improved squad that has lost three games this year by a total of four points.
“I hope the kids see the same thing that I do, Bland is a much improved team from last year,” Williams said. “Coach (Harris) Hart should be proud of his kids and so should be the community because they have improved so much.
“We like to measure with wins and losses and that is true, but the kids play hard and have probably overachieved on some level. The film we have on Grayson with them and a quarter a half into the game, Bland was winning 12-8 I think Grayson’s depth wore them down over the course of the game, but when their best was on their best that was a pretty even ball game.”
Williams sees talent in Bland County, including 6-foot-4, 271-pound lineman Cody Morgan and a backfield that includes Aaron Rose, Dylan Walker and Mason Christian.
What often hampers the Bears is simply the lack of bodies for a squad comprised of students from two schools, and a population significantly less than what Mitchell Stadium will hold.
“That is probably where they would struggle is with numbers, as far as what they do, they are good at what they do and the kids play hard,” Williams said. “It is not a team you want to overlook, just like they were pouncing on Grayson County.
“If we overlook this group they will come out and pounce on us just like they did Grayson.”
Lost in the effort by Peoples is that Graham was able to 319 yards against the Maroon Tide, trailing just 12-7 in the second quarter, but three missed field goals had the G-Men down 33-7 at the break.
“The problem last week was we were moving the football, we just weren’t
scoring,” Williams said. “At some point you have got to turn moving that football into points and we just didn’t do that.”
Charlie Benfield (609, 6 td) had 103 yards in defeat, while Dylan Cook (641, 6) added 83, and the G-Men will look for more of the same tonight. Colby Hill has thrown for 963 yards and 10 scores this year, with DeQuan Booker (21-302 2) and Bryce Farris (15-266, 4) showing potential as receivers.
Defensively, Adam Carbaugh (81 tackles), Hunter Cook (76), Chase Asbury (67, 8 tackles for loss) and Adrian Gray (14.5 tfl, 5.5 sacks) will try to help the G-Men maintain its shutout streak against the Bears, winning 40-0 last year, and 31-0 in 2011.
“I think they will come in here ready to play, Coach Hart does
a good job, they have got tough kids playing hard,” said Williams, who wants his G-Men to get off to a fast start on both sides of the ball. “They fly around on defense, they are playing much better defense than last year and they hit some big plays on Grayson.
“Looking at their scores I would say they are probably just a handful of plays from having the same record as us, 3-4.”
—Contact Brian Woodson