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August 26, 2013
District, Class 4A, Region 4A South
The Patriots are anticipating Banks to be an impact player sooner than later because he's arguably the faster guy on the team. They're six deep at the receiver position with the addition of Warwick transfer Chris Peace (6-3, 215) joining a senior group that also features possession target Ka'lihl Wharton (5-8, 140), Jaquan Jenkins (5-8, 140), Tyrik Burns (5-10, 150) and Raekwon Bailey (5-8, 140). Jenkins had 18 catches for 342 yards and a pair of scores as a junior.
Carrying the bulk of the rushing load will be senior Patrick Alston (5-8, 155). Back up front they've got a two-year player at left guard in junior DeMarco Brown-Negron (5-11, 280), their most consistent blocker, and return their center in Ethan Clarin (5-7, 220), who started every game as a sophomore and has an integral role being that he snaps the ball for a Patriots team that operates out of shotgun.
Another somewhat under appreciated defensive performer for the Patriots checks in at linebacker in senior Patrick Prosser (6-0, 205); he returned an interception for a touchdown against Bethel and should start on the o-line as well. Senior Rashad Pressey (5-11, 238) offers support at linebacker with Peace and senior Ronald Burton (6-0, 215) looking to bring pressure from the defensive end position. Banks is projected to start in the secondary and senior Derek Melton (5-8, 163) makes many of the calls from his strong safety position.
Will that be enough to knock off some of the top contenders in the Peninsula District like Phoebus, Hampton, Bethel, Woodside or Heritage? Probably not, but it does bode well for their chances of sneaking into the postseason in 4A and building for years to come.
Their passing game is dangerous enough to bring them back from down a touchdown or two, and their receiver corps is one of the deepest and most experienced they've had under Harris. To finish above the .500 mark, it'll likely come down to being able to mix in the run game enough to keep defenses honest, plus continue to progress defensively so that they don't have to win shoot-outs all the time.
"This is the largest senior class I've had and they're excited to get it going," Harris said. "It's a big difference as opposed to the last couple years going into the season not knowing what we were going to have. Now it's just up to us to get them in the right spot. Our key that will determine the success we have I feel is our front offensively and defensively. We're a little deeper on the line of scrimmage, but more importantly we're a little stronger there."
Matthew Hatfield has covered football and 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 email@example.com, and don't forget to listen to him on High School Sports Talk Saturdays at 10AM on ESPN Radio 94.1 plus watch him on the Cox 11 Sports Report.