When the Thomas Dale Knights and Varina Blue Devils get together, historically the match-up has been a classic battle. Coming in, many regarded this as the region’s game of the week. Dale, looking to rebound, was coming off of a tough loss at the hands of rival L.C. Bird. Varina was coming off of a win against Dinwiddie, a team that’s expected to contend in the Central District, like Dale. The Blue Devils came out with an explosive offense. They had a great defensive game plan and dominated the Knights 37-8 at Ed Karpus Field Friday night.
“Our biggest plays were against them on first down defensively,” said Varina head coach Stu Brown. “Once we were able to get them into second and long situations and keep them from pounding us in the run, we knew we could play with them.”
The Blue Devils wasted no time putting up points on the board and stopping Dale from moving the ball on defense. An early tipped pass that was intercepted by Varina’s P.T. Dixon turned the momentum early, as Varina would reel off 22 of 37 unanswered points in the first half.
Near the end of the second, Thomas Dale was able to drive with John Ford under center, getting to the Varina three-yard line, but a bad snap doomed the drive and sent Dale into the halftime break down 22-0.
“We worked so hard in practice to prepare for these guys,” said Thomas Dale head coach Kevin Tucker. “We’ve got to learn that making mistakes is okay, but we also have to come back from those mistakes.”
Varina’s dominance included a half for Thomas Dale in which they accounted for seven yards of total offense, and also where nine different Varina players were able to contribute on offense with a mixture of backfield misdirection, motion and screen passes.
“We knew exactly what to expect with these guys,” said Tucker. “But we stood around too much on defense and came out flat- I don’t know what it’s going to take to hype these guys up, but we need to find out.”
The Blue Devils would continue to score with relative ease, stretching the lead to 37-0 before Dale would finally score with 5:45 left in the game on a two yard run by senior D.J. Reid. Reid also converted the two-point conversion.
Varina was led by quarterback Brandon Wood who passed for 98 yards and rushed for 68 yards, scoring two touchdowns.
Thomas Dale was led by Reid, totaled 54 yards rushing to go with his touchdown. On defense, senior linebacker Aaron Green had ten tackles.
The Knights showed a new look in this game as well, as A.J. Holliday started the game, but quarterbacks switched in and out depending on the situation. When last week’s starter John Ford wasn’t under center, he was lined up at wide receiver.
“A.J. [Holliday] is more calm and can run the offense,” said Tucker. “John [Ford] can run the ball when we want to power-up on offense, but he can still throw – it’s like a Mark Sanchez-Tim Tebow kind of deal.”
Thomas Dale will look for its first victory, opening district play on the road next Friday at Petersburg, while Varina will host Hermitage, the defending region champion. Both games are slated for a 7 p.m. start.