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September 1, 2013
Marlins Close Strong in Opener: Sluggish starts are expected for season openers, especially when it features two teams with sophomore starting quarterbacks, one with a new Head Coach and the game coming before school even starts. Thursday night's tilt in Virginia Beach between the Bayside Marlins and Landstown Eagles was extra sloppy, however, as the two squads combined for 26 penalties and five turnovers before visiting Bayside outlasted the host Eagles, 29-10.
"Sloppy indeed," agreed Bayside Head Football Coach Jon White afterwards. "But an ugly W looks better than a good L, I'll tell you that. With all those mistakes, it's one of those things I'm just happy we got out of here alive. It feels good to get the win, but of course by our standard in how we play the game, that wasn't our football. We've had sloppier games and better seasons, so hopefully that bodes well for what we've done."
In a game that was much closer than the final score indicated, Bayside trailed 10-6 at the half and didn't take the lead for good until eight seconds remaining in the third quarter. Even then, Landstown had two chances to re-gain the lead and needed a touchdown with 1:07 left to win.
By the time Landstown took over, they were without any time-outs and quarterback Jermaine Trotman, who scored the Eagles' lone touchdown of the night on a run, was sacked in the end zone by Donte Hargraves for a safety. Bayside then put it out of reach with a touchdown run and Tayvon Burris' 43-yard interception return for a touchdown with two seconds left.
After half-time, Bayside gained 143 total yards with 141 on the ground. Landstown was held without a first down over the game's final 24 minutes.
"We all [were] a little shaky in the beginning, including myself," admitted Bayside senior Quin Blanding, a five-star recruit who's committee to play his College Football at the University of Virginia, where several former Bayside players currently star. "We had our ups and downs, but turned around and pulled it through in the second half. We just felt the drive in ourselves, started believing in each other and working together."
The win moves Bayside to 1-0 overall before a matchup in their second contest with Princess Anne, which fell to Green Run in its opener by a count of 33-32. It also gave White a victory in his caching debut.
"Who would ever think your coaching debut goes against the guy that coached Michael Vick? And the school where Percy Harvin and Deveon Simmons went to," White remarked. "Little things like that I'm thinking in my mind, to the point where we even forgot to do the pregame prayer."
Landstown was not helped by self-inflicted mistakes, committing 16 penalties for 110 yards. Bayside overcame four turnovers, two by interceptions in the first half, to prevail.
#1 - - New Identity? With White being elevated from assistant to Head Coach to replace the retiring Darnell Moore, the Marlins appear to be trying to establish a new identity offensively from a team that likes to air it out to one that'll look to employ a power run game.
Junior tailback Darryl Sills, the younger brother of ex-Salem standout Kevin Whaley, rolled up many of his 87 yards on 15 attempts after half-time. Sills sored a 13-yard touchdown as well. Others that were part of a ground attack that finished with 148 yards on 38 rushes included senior Anthony Christman, sophomore Dequan Bagley and fullback Donte Hargraves.
"Those guys really stuck with it and did a yeoman's job," White said. "They're very physical despite being very tired. But they knew a long while ago that running the ball will win it and stopping the run will win it."
"We knew what they had to do. Their quarterback is out and we just had to make sure we weren't letting guys go behind us," White noted. "Sometimes guys get caught up in the atmosphere and sometimes forget about the basics. We had to remind them of the basics at half-time. Coach [Thad] Harold and Coach [Carlton] Thomas did a great job of that."
Part of the adjustment for Bayside defensively included Blanding, usually a safety, creeping up in the box and acting like an outside linebacker that played near the line of scrimmage quite frequently.
"I had seen what they were doing in the first half, nothing but outside zone runs and straight through the middle," Blanding went on to say. "Why not put myself where I can make the plays? I told coach I know where I can make the plays at, so I'm going down [in the box] and making plays."
For Blanding, he has a different role leadership-wise than in the past when the likes of Demetrious Nicholson, Anthony Cooper, Taquan 'Smoke' Mizzell or Deion Stitt carried the baton as senior captains. It's his team now and every opponent will be looking to keep him specifically in check.
"I feel like now I've really got to be the top dog because it's a target on my back. Yeah, I'm the #1 safety, the five-star recruit going to Virginia, so everybody's going to try to try me to think 'oh, he's a nobody and not really all that.' I know I've got to be the one that steps up and really plays my game, and go all out," Blanding commented.
"As you look at it, we're very young. We play just like all the other Bayside teams. We all have heart, we're little, have always been little, but this year we're really young."
In the first half, Blanding turned a quick pass from sophomore signal caller Donte Lampley into a 73-yard reception where he zigged and zagged past a number of defenders down to the Landstown five-yard line. On the night, it was the only play of 50 yards or longer for either team.
With a host of underclassmen playing prominent roles for the Marlins, Blanding is well aware of the fact that he will be the guy that has to lead them both on and off the field as the team aims at making the playoffs for a fifth straight year.
Landstown Eagles 10:
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.