By ANTHONY STEVENS
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
HONAKER, Va. —
It’s everyone’s goal to get out of an exhibition game as healthy as possible. That is a question mark for Richlands.
Quarterback Gray Baker, who missed a lot of last season with a knee injury, left the game with 9:20 to play in the third quarter after hurting it again.
“I just made a cut and it just gave out,” said Baker. “I’ve been coming back from the surgery and everything had been going good. They think everything is fine, but I’m on going to get an MRI tomorrow to be safe. I just pray to God that everything is alright.”
It was a very tight first half but Richlands pulled away for a 31-2 win in a benefit game at Fuller Field at EMATS Stadium that won’t count in the standings. The Blues’ halftime lead was 7-0.
“Offensively we were out of sync tonight but that’s understandable, we have eight new starters out there,” Richlands coach Greg Mance said. “We were rotating people in and out and trying to establish some kids. We missed some plays we had open and just never could get in sync in the first half.”
A muffed punt resulted in the first Richlands score. The Blues took over on the Honaker 18. It took only four plays to punch it in. Colton Staten scored on a 5-yard rush.
Richlands broke it open with 17 points in the third quarter. Zeke Vance got them on a roll when he took the second half kickoff 98-yards weaving his way to a touchdown. Ben Brown added a 43-yard field goal. Jay Harrison hauled in a 26-yard TD pass from River Michaels. Dillan Elswick scored on a 2-yard run for the final margin.
Honaker’s only score came on a safety, when Richlands snapped the ball out of the end zone from the shotgun formation. They had several other opportunities, missing four field goals.
After graduating 14 seniors and only returning four starters on both sides of ball it was a solid outing for the Tigers.
“Hopefully we learned a lot,” Honaker coach Doug Hubbard said. “Turnovers and special teams really hurt us and that’s something we’ve spent a lot of time on.”
The Tigers open the season next week at arch rival Lebanon, while Richlands will host Gate City.
At EMATS Stadium
Richlands..............................7 0 17 7 — 31
Honaker.................................0 0 0 2 — 2
RIC—Staten 5 run (Brown kick)
RIC—Vance 98 kickoff return (Brown kick)
RIC—Brown 43 FG
RIC—Harrison 26 pass from Michaels (Brown kick)
HON—Richlands snap out of end zone
RIC—Elswick 2 run (Bandy kick)
First Downs: RIC 12, HON 9; Rushes-Yards: RIC 35-248, HON 40-184; Passing Yards: RIC 41, ON 25; Comp-Att-Int: RIC 2-13-2, HON 5-10-0; Fumbles-Lost: RIC 3-0, HON 6-3; Penalties-Yards: RIC 5-45, HON 1-5; Punts-Average: RIC 2-22, HON 4-32.