Injuries hassled the Knights in 2012 as they finished the year 4-6 after winning the Central District in 2011. A down season by Thomas Dale standards, the Knights are looking to restore the program’s pride this season.
“These kids are working hard to get this team back to where it belongs,” stated Head Coach Kevin Tucker. “They want their families, school and community to be proud of them.”
A young team with just 17 seniors on the roster, Tucker is looking for his players to develop on-field chemistry and learn on the fly from mistakes.
“These guys already all like each other,” said Tucker. “We’re looking to translate that chemistry onto the field.”
The strength of the 2013 Knights should lie in their defense, headlined by C.J. Reavis, Marco Carrabotta, Ron Hall and Darvin Taylor. Offensively, Eric Finney will need to produce at halfback and a quarterback tandem of Trevor Luke and A.J. Holliday will look to lead the offense.
Dale opens their season Thursday hosting Cosby at 7 p.m.
Quarterback: The Knights will rotate two seniors at the helm in Luke and Holliday. Luke is a traditional “big arm” quarterback while Holliday offers a dual threat with both his arm and legs. Tucker, excited about the versatility at the position, stated that he feels the team can win with either player leading the way.
Running back: Finney, (5-9 185) will get a chance to etch his name into a history already rich with running backs. Last year the junior started three games in place of D.J. Reid and rushed for over 500 yards and six touchdowns. Finney can move, running a 4.4 40-yard dash. Senior Justin Cooper scored eight touchdowns in 2012 will start at fullback again.
Wide Receiver: Senior Tevin Strozier (6-3 180) returns the for Knights. Strozier, a 2012 starter is an athlete, sporting a 37 inch vertical leap. Several colleges, including Richmond, JMU and Hampton have taken notice. Senior Will Esque will start opposite Strozier and Marco Carrabotta will start at tight end where he can block and catch passes equally well.
Offensive Line: The Knights line will be anchored by All-District performer and Senior Chris Dunford. Center Dean Lee, a senior returns and Justin Walstead, who was injured in the second game of the season last year, will also look to bounce back in his senior year. Junior Josh Parker and senior Ron Hall will also start.
Defensive Line: Hall (6-1 260) was the line’s statistical leader in 2012 with 11 sacks and 37 tackles. Taylor, a 6-3 290 pound ‘manchild’ in the words of Tucker is expected to grow into one of the top recruiting prospects in the class of 2015. The junior already has over 20 college offers and is receiving interest from schools such as Alabama and Auburn. Senior Matt Der and junior Justin Amago also start.
Linebackers: D-1 prospect and junior Marco Carrabotta (6-1 220) leads the unit. Twenty-seven-year assistant coach Eddie Goss considered Carrabotta to be “one of the best linebackers he’s ever coached.” Cooper, who had 59 tackles last season returns and the Knights are excited about junior Keith Anderson who was promoted to varsity last year and had 25 tackles in thee games.
Defensive Backs: Reavis leads the way alongside Finney at safety and Strozier at cornerback. Junior cornerback Tyrell Friend, up from junior varsity is expected to do well.
ON THE RADAR
C.J. Reavis, Senior
6 foot 1 inch, 205 pounds
Virginia Tech commit
C.J. Reavis committed to Virginia Tech earlier this year. Reavis was heavily recruited as one of the nation’s top defensive backs and participated in ESPN’s the Opening.
After the recruiting hoopla, Reavis was ready to settle down and concentrate on being the best high school football player possible.
“After his decision, things got back to normal,” said Thomas Dale head coach Kevin Tucker. “He got a lot of attention and publicity for a while and he had to adjust.”
This summer, Reavis led the way in the weight room, helping underclassmen in addition to his workout regimen.
In 2012, while providing the Knights versatility at both safety positions, Reavis amassed 102 tackles in nine games, defensing seven passes while intercepting two more, including one return for a touchdown.
8/29 vs. Cosby 7:00pm
9/6 @ L.C. Bird 7:30pm
9/13 @ Varina 7:30pm
9/20 BYE WEEK
9/27 vs. Hopewell 7:30pm
10/4 vs. Prince George 7:00pm
10/11 vs. Meadowbrook 7:00pm
10/18 @ Colonial Heights 7:00pm
10/25 @ Petersburg 7:30pm
11/1 vs. Dinwiddie 7:00pM
11/8 @ Matoaca 7:30pm