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August 11, 2014
2014 Menchville Monarchs Preview
District, Class 5A, Region 5A South
One major plus to have in their blocking efforts is at tight end in Elijah Murphy (6-4, 250), who holds an offer from James Madison and also is an accomplished basketball player. At split-end, junior Maurice Johnson (6-1, 190), "has gotten a lot stronger," according to Tidwell, and senior Keavin Good (5-10, 170) could develop into a viable option in the passing game. What's very much up in the air is who ends up getting the majority of the snaps at quarterback with as many as five players battling for the position. Senior NaiQuan Cooper (5-10, 165) and a pair of sophomores, Shemar Butts (5-8, 150) and Anthony Wyatt (6-0, 160), are the main candidates.
Senior Isaiah Bryant (5-9, 150) was the team's lone All-Conference First Team selection a year ago and returns to anchor the secondary, which outside of him is relatively thin. A newcomer to watch that Tidwell is very high on is senior linebacker Richard Smith (5-11, 195), someone that figures to see time on offense in the backfield as well. Junior Ray Savage III (6-1, 190) has the ability to be a significant contributor at either outside linebacker or defensive end.
"The biggest difference is having the whole year to get them in the weight room," he commented. "Strength-wise and understanding what we're doing offensively and defensively, we appear to be in better shape. We've also got some bigger new kids that are going to help us out at some point as far as the offensive and defensive line goes. They've just got to learn how to play football."
How quickly the maturation process is for those players in the trenches will likely dictate the type of season the Monarchs have. It could be a musical chairs situation at quarterback, although they won't be passing a ton and have up to four capable rushing options with Guilford, Dixon, Bryant and Smith. Murphy is the linchpin of the line and arguably one of the most underrated prospects in the area.
Don't expect them to be a playoff contender just yet, but unlike last season, they should score their first offensive touchdown before October arrives.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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.