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District, Eastern Region, Division 6
Rewind: Sam Scarborough began his second term as Head Football Coach at First Colonial in 2011. FC recorded a pair of overtime wins, including a 27-20 triumph over Green Run in 2OT's. They started slow at 1-3, but warmed up and won four in a row to close the year and finish over .500, highlighted by beating city rival Cox 14-10. The Patriots were one play away in a 26-21 loss to Landstown from closing the regular season on a six-game winning streak and crashing the postseason party for the first time since 2000.
Offensive Outlook: First Colonial finished 18thh in the region in scoring last year at 23.7 points per game, and their attack started to click once Joey Brown (6-1, 195) was inserted at quarterback in game six. "He has a strong arm and great on-field leadership," Scarborough says of his junior signal caller, who'll be pressed by up-and-comer Bodie Sheehan (6-0, 185), a sophomore started the final six games of his freshman year at linebacker. They have contrasting strengths; Brown does better in the passing game while Sheehan is more of your running type. In the backfield, senior Raven Greene (5-11, 185), a DB prospect, and junior Dornell Collins (5-11, 195) will handle the ball-carrying duties.
The Patriots will rely heavily on its offensive line to protect the quarterback and to open up running lanes for Greene and Collins. Four seniors and two juniors make up this unit with Terrell Cooper (6-1, 200), Derek Carter (6-2, 235), Taz Deldonna (6-3, 285), Chris Aikens (6-0, 210), Jonathan Steiner (6-4, 257) and Cody Thorne (6-3, 267). Where FC is a bit thin is at receiver, although Khiry Weaver (6-2, 195) can make some tough catches in traffic and he'll be joined by fellow senior Nick Jajonie (5-11, 170). Don't be surprised to see a couple of experienced senior tight ends in Jack Sheehan (5-11, 200) and Harry Richards (6-3, 210) factor into the passing game, too.
Defensive Outlook: It was pretty simple to figure out when FC won and when they lost based on how their defense performed in 2011. When they held foes to 20 points or less, they went 6-0. When they allowed 21 or more, they were 0-4. Three of four linebackers return, led by Jack Sheehan, who Scarborough calls, "the quarterback of our defense." He's seasoned, doesn't make mistakes and is also one of the top long snappers you'll find in the country. The other Sheehan, Bodie, and Collins will assist him at LB. And speaking of specialists, the defense will be helped out greatly in the field position area by punter Tucker Hague (6-1, 170), who pinned five punts last year inside the two-yard line.
The Patriots are fairly confident in their ability to stop the run with those linebackers as well as a d-line that includes experienced players like Carter and d-tackle Simyeon Robinson (6-3, 250). In the defensive backfield, they have an All-District caliber talent in Raven Greene (5-11, 185), who holds offers from Delaware, Norfolk State and Coastal Carolina. "He's the real deal. But Raven is going to need some help," says Scarborough. "Some of the teams we play like to sling it and we need some depth at the DB position."
Date to Circle: It's a brutal start to the season schedule-wise for First Colonial with Bayside to open followed by a bye, then Salem, Green Run and Ocean Lakes. If the Patriots aren't careful, they could be 0-4. But then the schedule eases up and they can win six straight to end the regular season and possibly head into the playoffs. The key date on the schedule is October 5th when they travel to Landstown, a team that has won eight of the past ten meetings between the two schools. A win there is pivotal to their playoff hopes.
Hat's Hit: One neat little trivia nugget for First Colonial fans is this - - outside of reigning Division 5 State Champion Phoebus and Division 6 State Champion Oscar Smith, the Patriots bring the longest winning streak in the Eastern Region into 2012. Beating their rival Cox to end the season was definitely a boost. The mindset for the Patriots is changing a bit and they feel this is one of their better cores of seniors they've had in a while, maybe not with the marquee name player like an Aaron Rouse or Nick Dew in the past, but collectively they have several parts that together make up a nice nucleus.
"We feel like if we're going to be in the playoffs you've got to win at least seven," believes Scarborough. Our big key this year is going to be our line, and we've got a solid line offensively and defensively. It's a good working group and not a bunch of complainers, so I think we'll do well."
Getting some DB's around Greene to step up is important. Offensively, they should be fairly balanced, at least enough so that defenses can't make them totally one-dimensional. With facing most of the Beach's tougher teams in the first month of the season, it'll be a good gauge for them early where they stand. Hanging tough in one of those three games against Salem, Bayside and Ocean Lakes, and putting themselves in position to spring the upset - - whether they do or not - - will go a long way for confidence and determining whether this team goes to the playoffs.
Matthew Hatfield has covered Eastern Region Football & Basketball since 2004 for VirginiaPreps.com, part of the Rivals.com Network. Check out Hatfield's Twitter page for more sports related updates, and you can also read his work in the Suffolk News Herald. To contact Matthew, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, and don't forget to listen to him on the VirginiaPreps.com Hour every Saturday at 11AM on ESPN Radio 94.1 plus watch him on the Cox 11 Sports Report.