James Wood looking to earn first win in Week 3 clash

James Wood coach Ryan Morgan was very honest with his football team as practice began this week.

After falling to Sherando (54-8) and Skyline (21-20) in the opening two weeks, the Colonels enter Friday’s 7 p.m. clash at Brentsville looking for an initial victory.

“What I told the kids this week is they’re going to win when they deserve to win,” Morgan said. “We have been making too many mistakes. Sherando is a good football team, so Week 1 obviously we weren’t ready to come out and beat them.

“Skyline, we made too many mistakes and our kids didn’t deserve to win the ballgame. We didn’t finish as far as tackling goes and we didn’t finish offensively. We didn’t play well on special teams. We had too many mistakes there.”

Morgan said a bye last week allowed several of his players to heal up. It also allowed him to focus on a couple of key things that he thought the Skyline game revealed.

Thanks in a big part to quarterback sacks, the Colonels finished with negative yards on the ground in that contest. Hawks quarterback Aidan Vaught was able to escape several tackles on a game-winning drive.

“Our last game we had issues with protections up front, so we’ve been working on pass protections, recognizing blitzes and that kind of stuff,” Morgan said. “Defensively, we’ve focused on tackling and getting on the legs. There were too many times where we tried to tackle high against Skyline and we missed a lot of those tackles.”

The Colonels are certainly getting another test against Class 3 Brentsville (2-1), which has opened the season against three other Class 4 Northwestern District teams. The Tigers beat Liberty (40-28) and Fauquier (41-13) to open the season before falling 38-7 against defending Class 4 Northwestern District champion Kettle Run last week.

Brentsville features an offense piloted by dual-threat quarterback Caleb Alexander. In the win over Fauquier, Alexander ran 14 times for 91 yards and two TDs, while completing 9 of 21 passes for 201 yards and two scores. Against Liberty, Alexander ran 19 times for 172 yards and two TDs and he had a 54-yard TD run against Kettle Run.

“Their quarterback runs really well,” Morgan said. “We went and watched them last week and their quarterback took off probably 55 yards up the middle on a power read and nobody from Kettle Run could catch up to him. He’s dangerous if he gets downhill and gets a full head of steam. He’s faster than most of the kids we have, if not all of them.”

Orlando is more of a blue-collar runner, but he rushed 27 times for 179 yards and three touchdowns against Liberty and 13 times for 64 yards and a score against Fauquier.

“He gets North and South,” Morgan said of Orlando. “He doesn’t spend too much time dancing and he gets behind his blockers. If they can create some seams for him, he can break off some chunk runs.”

And blocking for those guys is the reigning Class 3 Northwestern District and Region 3B Offensive Player of the Year Tyler Nix. The 6-foot-3, 285-pounder plays on both the offensive and defensive lines.

The Colonels have moved the ball primarily through the air this season. Quarterback Jared Neal has completed 34 of 64 passes for 403 yards and three TDs with two interceptions. Neal’s favorite target is Eli Miller (14 catches, 195 yards, 1 TD).

On defense, the Colonels are led by linebacker Zach Smith, who is averaging 13.5 tackles per game.

The Colonels, who rolled over Brentsville 37-15 last season, will face a tough challenge this time.

“We have to protect up front,” Morgan said. “That’s probably one of the big things. Tackling is going to be huge. We need to get on the legs of people, keep from tackling high and taking good angles. No. 8 their quarterback, he’s fast enough to do some damage on the edges. We have to make sure we’re keeping things in front of us.

“And then, it’s making sure we take care of the football and don’t turn over the ball. And we have to lock down some things on special teams. Every phase of special teams we’re having too many mistakes.”

If the Colonels can do that, maybe they’ll get that first win.

“Ultimately, every team is going to be different from year-to-year,” Morgan said. “Right now, we’re in a process where we’re building and getting kids experience. Hopefully, we win Friday night, but we have to continue to play better.”

— Contact Walt Moody at
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