By BOB REDD
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
The Bluefield Beavers start the 2013 football season with a new-look backfield, a new identity led by new signal caller, R.J. Bourne.
Bourne, a back-up quarterback the last two years to D.J. Edwards, moves under center while Edwards lines up in the backfield as a running back for Coach Fred Simon’s 28th team at BHS.
Bourne will start his first-ever game at quarterback in one of the nation’s biggest rivalries, before more than 10,000 fans at Mitchell Stadium, Friday night and he realizes that all eyes and Graham defensive players will be on him.
“It means a lot to me. I’ve got a lot of pressure on me, but I think we’ll do pretty good,” Bourne said. “ It’s a big rivalry. We’ve got to get them (Graham) back for last year. We are just staying focused every day. We want them and we’re ready for Friday.”
After suffering a season-ending injury during the Beavers’ baseball season this spring, Bourne has put in many hours to get ready for the gridiron.
“I’ve been working hard over the summer,” Bourne pointed out. “I had to work hard because I broke my leg during baseball and I’m trying to build up from that. It hasn’t bothered me at all.”
Simon talked about his expectations from his new starting quarterback.
“Just do the job. He’s a junior, it’s his first time being in there. I don’t expect him to be a great leader or anything like that at this point, but just do the job, hand the ball off, execute his fundamentals, make correct reads when he’s throwing the ball,” Simon said. “That’s what I expect from him.”
Simon said moving Edwards to running back and Bourne taking over at QB will enhance the Beavers’ offense.
“I think we have an adequate passing attack to go along with our running attack and D.J. (Edwards) is such a team player that he hasn’t minded this move one little bit and he’s excelled at doing what he has to do,” Simon said. “We have good team chemistry in what we are doing right now.”
Bourne and any quarterback relies heavily on protection from the offensive line and the Beavers’ front has formed a good relationship with their signal caller.
“I like them a lot,” Bourne said. “We’ve got a couple of young guys, but our upperclassmen, D.J. Sims, Cody Gore and Justin Lightfoot, I think they are pretty good. We’ve got Matthew Belcher at center and Big George (Jordan George) on the left side at tackle. I think we’ll do pretty good there.”
Bourne talked about what he and the team has to do not only Friday night against the G-Men, but all season in order to reach the playoffs and make a run for the 11th state championship in school history.
“I think we have to stick to our keys on defense and offense and just do what is right — blocking schemes, running the ball, making sure the backs read the blocks,” Bourne said. “I’ve just got to read the defense and hopefully we’ll go from there.”
A lineman in middle school, this is Bourne’s first year as a starting quarterback. Last season he was a starting outside linebacker for the Beavers before being sidelined late in the season with a shoulder injury. As a quarterback he has some players which he admires.
“I like Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck, Eli (Manning), most of the pocket passers,” Bourne said.
As a pocket passer he said his main targets will most likely be Edwards, Justin Carter and Brandon Lilly.
Simon summed things up by saying, “R.J. is a competitor, calm and cool. He doesn’t let things rattle him too much. I think he’s a good kid, a good boy, good in the classroom, just a good kid, always here at school, never late to class, just that type of kid.”
Bourne and the Beavers take on the Graham G-Men Friday night at Mitchell Stadium.
— Contact Bob Redd at