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September 27, 2013
Freshman Shines as Canes Roll to 5-0: Two weeks after notching a signature come-from-behind win over traditional power Hampton, the Heritage Hurricanes took another giant step forward as the once cellar dwellers of the Peninsula District cruised to a 44-14 victory over Bethel on Thursday night at Darling Stadium to improve to 5-0 overall.
Heritage, which three years ago was winless, dominated in every week imaginable with a convincing 458-157 advantage in total yards, six takeaways and scored a touchdown on special teams. Their steamrolling of the Bruins came with a freshman starting at quarterback in Jeremiah Boyd.
The 5-foot-11, 177-pound Boyd was cool, calm and collective in the pocket, firing a 67-yard touchdown on his first pass attempt of his career. Best of all, he didn't throw any interceptions on a night where Heritage racked up over 200 yards in each half against a defense that came in ranked tops statistically in the district.
"Jeremiah Boyd's a special kid. Very, very talented ninth grader, and this week at practice we made a decision to go ahead and start him this week," declared Heritage Head Football Coach George Massenburg. "He managed the offense pretty well, and some of the things he did not only shocked me, but shocked the whole coaching staff."
Boyd went on to completed 8 of 12 passes for 225 yards and three touchdowns, all of 30 yards or more. He found five different receivers for completions.
"I just took my reads and did what I've worked on all summer. I just broke down their coverage and there were holes open in the middle of the field. We had a hard practice this week and everybody was together and in rhythm," Boyd said afterwards.
Perhaps the play of the night came with 43 seconds left in the first half and with the Hurricanes nursing a 10-6 lead. Facing a third down, Boyd spun away from two defenders and threw on the run a 43-yard touchdown pass to a wide open Marcus Van Hook, a junior that also picked off a pass on defense in the win.
"It started clicking and coming together. But some things happened and it wasn't enough, so we've got to work harder and continue to get better," Boyd added.
"This is big for the school, big for the program and big for the team and students. We're really working hard in school with our academics and in athletics."
Bethel played without senior defensive lineman and most of the night without reigning PD Defensive Player of the Year Ricky Walker. A four-star prospect considering Nebraska, Penn State, Virginia Tech and others, Walker was battling a foot injury.
Boyd claims he didn't know he would be starting until just a little before kick-off when he got the news.
"It happened in pre-game," said Boyd. "I've worked for it and I knew I had to step up for my team."
It remains to be seen who the starter is from here on out, although Boyd's debut was quite memorable and impressive, giving him a great chance at being under center moving forward and when the playoffs rolls around.
"I'll definitely remember my first start," Boyd commented.
Holden-Bethea scored three touchdowns three different ways, finding the end zone on a 67-yard reception, 11-yard run and 90-yard kickoff return.
"The coaches called him the golden child. It's funny because every time he touches the something special happens," revealed Massenburg.
"I'm trying to get him the ball, but I don't want to get him the ball in too many different ways because I don't want him messing up or jinx him. He's worked hard for everything that he's gotten in our program and going to continue to get better I believe."
It was a slow start to the 2013 campaign for Holden-Bethea. However, he knew it was only a matter of time before he made his presence felt for a Hurricanes team that's off to its best start in 13 years.
"At the beginning of the season, I was messing up and really didn't get to play as much. But tonight they told me I was going to touch the ball and I just tried to do what I could," remarked Holden-Bethea, who used his speed to run away from defenders on special teams.
"In rec league I used to be a kick return guy. They told me to go back there, so I did it."
Massenburg has decided to split up the carries with a bunch of different backs running the ball. As a result, the Canes had another strong night on the ground with 45 attempts for 233 yards, gaining 139 after half-time as they wore down Bethel's defense over the final two quarters.
"Last year, the guys knew that Khalid was going to get the ball. They knew we were basically going to give him the ball as many times as we can. Now, we have so many guys we feel comfortable with giving the ball, and that's the biggest problem in practice giving the guys enough reps so that when game time comes we know who's going to get the ball," Massenburg went on to say.
Starting tailback Juanye Patillo went down with an ankle injury early, yet the Canes were able to effectively mix it up with several different ball carriers and stay fresh in the backfield without their top rusher that entered the contest third in rushing yards in the PD. Nine different individuals ran the ball at least one, including DaQwane Sabb with 14 rushes for 86 yards (46 in the third quarter alone) and Jamon McEachern with 12 attempts for 60 yards.
In the second half, Heritage's defense came up with six takeaways, five on interceptions from Van Hook, ReSean Streater, Dimitri Holloway, Sedric Spruill and Jamal Washington. Bernard Saxby, who caught a 31-yard touchdown pass, scooped up a fumble as well.
Bethel used three different quarterbacks in Beau Morgan, Tyre Givers-Wilson and Anthony Slade, all of whom turned it over at least once on the evening. The Heritage defense bottled up the Bruins' run game to just 48 yards on 22 carries.
"Like I say all the time, our defensive coordinator Weymouth Williams does a great job. This week, he came up with a scheme that I was kind of hesitant to allow him to do, but I trust those guys," Massenburg pointed out. "A kid last week said, 'Coach, we've got a lot of talent on this team.' Tonight, they showed it."
"We're back on the map," Holden-Bethea said.
Exactly one month from their win over Bethel, October 26, on a Saturday night at Todd Stadium in Newport News, the Hurricanes take on consensus Peninsula District favorite, a team they'll have to go through in Class 4A (along with Lake Taylor) if they want to bring home a state title.
The Hurricanes lost to the Phantoms by a point last season. If Heritage is able to beat Woodside next week, they'll likely be 8-0 when they take on Phoebus.
"I'm a guy that just wants to keep on building. I told the guys I don't want them looking at the computer or any of those things," Massenburg said.
"These kids have never beat Hampton before and we did that. Every week, it's something want to build on. I'm just excited, glad to be a Hurricane, glad to be at Heritage and t's a great opportunity."
Hurricanes 44: (5-0 Overall)
Bruins 14: (3-2 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.