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September 14, 2013
Canes Comeback Sends Heritage to 3-0: It was only three years ago that Heritage High School in Newport News finished winless and got outscored by its opponents 411-32. In pre-game, Hurricanes Head Football Coach George Massenburg declared that they were ready to "shock the world," and beat the Hampton Crabbers, a program that owns more state titles than anyone else in VHSL football history.
The fashion in which his Heritage squad did it, rallying from 14 points down to win 21-14 by pitching a second half shutout to a team that scored 44 just six days prior, stunned many that were at Darling Stadium on Friday night.
"I learned a lot from Coach [Mike] Smith," Masssenburg, a former Hampton assistant, said afterwards. "The first thing I learned was to be humble and to know how to prepare the team. After the half, we made some adjustments, saw some things that we could basically take advantage of and those guys were excited and ready to play. It's an exciting time for the whole entire program."
Over the past three years, Hampton had shutout Heritage by a combined total of 136-0. It has been total domination in the head-to-head series in recent years with Heritage's last win over the Crabbers coming during their State Championship season of 2000.
"This win means a lot. We haven't beaten them in 13 years and it's history in the making," Heritage senior running back Juanye Patillo went on to say. "People have talked about Heritage High School Football in the past and we don't mind it because we just come out here to play."
For a senior like two-way lineman Darrion Turner, who remembers the 77-0 thumping they took his freshman year, it was a night full of joy and emotion.
"It's unbelievable, man. I'm speechless and don't know what to say," Turner admitted. "We've been working so hard for this. I've been here for four years, never beaten Hampton or even scored on Hampton. This is big for us."
Even after two failed scoring opportunities in the first half in which Heritage drove into Hampton territory and came up empty handed, the Hurricanes never panicked. A 20-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Malik Deloatch to junior wideout Marcus Van Hook drew Heritage within seven with 1:36 remaining in the second quarter.
When Hampton saw a drive before the end of the first half result in no points and leave their lead at seven, Heritage sensed it might be their night after all.
"Coach told us during the week that Heritage hasn't beaten Hampton since I was two years old. I felt that we should make a statement and come out here and beat them. Our seniors haven't beaten Hampton and this was their last time. It was our time," commented Heritage junior linebacker Dimitri Holloway, who made a key sack in the fourth quarter.
"This tells us how much character we have and how we can preserve, even when we were down 14-0."
A six-yard touchdown run midway through the third quarter by Warwick transfer Jamon McEachern tied the score at 14. Heritage closed strong with a 12-play, 83-yard drive that took 8:16 off the clock, capped on Patillo's touchdown run from a yard out.
The guy nicknamed 'Chubs,' pulled one from the playbook of New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton, who used the same maneuver to begin the second half in Super Bowl XLIV against Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts. With the Canes trailing 14-7 at the break, they recovered the onside kick, only booting morale and confidence for his squad at that point.
"We noticed some things. Our special teams coordinator, Coach [Ivory] Ellison, said they were taking off right away," Massenburg relayed. "We saw there was an opportunity to go for that onside kick at that point in time and it was successful."
While Quillen had another solid night, completing 10 of 12 passes for 108 yards without an interception to go with 108 yards rushing and 2TD's on 21 carries and five solo tackles defensively, the Heritage defense clamped down on him in the second half. Major credit goes to Turner and Holloway for that effort.
"Darrion Turner, that's a special kid. I've said that over and over again," remarked Massenburg. "He's a senior leader of this team. And Dimitri Holloway, I don't think there's another athlete around like that kid. Only a junior; has a lot more football left in him and I'm so excited and happy for these guys."
Turner, a starter at right guard on the o-line, was in on 10 tackles, six solo stops and had a tackle for loss. Holloway, meanwhile, recorded seven solo tackles, two behind the line of scrimmage and a sack.
"It was just our defensive scheme," said Holloway. "When we went into half-time, our coaches changed the defensive scheme and told me to go to the weakside of the ball, and I told my teammates let's turn it up. He said they kept on running to their sideline and things worked out for us."
Over the game's final two quarters, Hampton ran for 50 yards on 14 attempts after piling up 107 yards on 17 carries in the first half. Qullen, a dangerous thrower and runner, was stopped for loss on four occasions during that stretch as the Canes kept him in the pocket fo the most part.
"Coach Weymouth Williams is probably one of the best defensive coordinators I've ever been around," believes Massenburg. "He comes up with a scheme every week and I say, 'Coach, can our guys do it?' He says, 'Coach, we can coach it up. We're going to make it happen.' Sometimes on Sunday meeting I'm thinking we're not going to be able to do that. I put a lot of faith in Coach Williams and Coach [Jacobi] Fenner on the defensive side of the ball and they make it happen."
"Like I said to the Daily Press, we're a cohesive unit," Turner noted. "We knew we had to turn it up in the second half, just like we did last week. Going into half-time, we had a lot of confidence and weren't down and were real energetic. Coach had a lot of faith in us."
On the night, Heritage ran for 247 yards on 38 attempts. That's the formula for success they're using as they look to return to the playoffs for a second straight season.
"We want to run the ball. Everybody knows that," Massenburg added. "I felt if we can get the ball with at least 8-9 minutes left in the game, we were going to hold the ball for that whole entire time. That was our goal."
No play was bigger than the one he made midway through the third quarter Hampton electing to go for it on fourth-and-1 from its own 48-yard line. Patillo's blitz up the middle resulted in an eight-yard loss on fourth down, stopping the Crabbers and building momentum for Heritage on its quest for an upset.
"I took my read steps and was working on it in practice all week. I saw the hole come open, hit the hole and made the tackle," Patillo stated. "We knew if we got a good push up front that everything else would fall in place."
Hurricanes 21: (3-0 Overall)
Crabbers 14: (1-2 Overall)
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 every Saturday at 10AM on ESPN Radio 94.1, plus watch him on the Cox 11 Sports Report.