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August 15, 2014

2014 Maury Commodores Preview

2014 Tidewater Football Schedules
2013 Tidewater Football Schedules & Results


Eastern District, Class 5A, Region 5A South
Head Coach: Chris Fraser

Recent History:
2011 - -
1-9 (missed playoffs)
2012 - - 5-6 (lost to Lake Taylor 51-0 in regional quarterfinals)
2013 - - 8-4 (lost to Green Run 46-7 in regional quarterfinals)

For the first time since 2006, the Maury Commodores advanced in the playoffs, beating Kellam 35-16 in the opening round one week after throttling longtime city rival Granby 54-7 in the regular season finale. In the regional quarterfinals, the Commodores gave up a season-high 265 yards through the air and fell to Green Run by 39. It was only the second time all year their offense got held to single-digits.

Offensive Outlook:
By putting up 332 points last year, Maury had its highest offensive output since the 2005 campaign when they were led by current Seattle Seahawks Pro Bowler Kam Chancellor at quarterback and finished with 424 points. Most of the skill position pieces return for the Commodores, boding well for them this year. The engine of their offense will once again be junior tailback Delveon Little (5-9, 187), a First Team All-Eastern District performer that ran for 1371 yards and 16 touchdowns on 280 carries.

"He's a stud, one of those rare talents," Fraser said of Little. "He's fast, big and tough." There will be plenty of support around Little with juniors Markell Wood (5-8, 165) and Ronnie Faulk (5-9, 205). Wood ran for nearly 100 yards in the second half in their comeback win over Warwick. Back at quarterback is junior Devon Perry (5-11, 175), who'll be firing passes to sophomore Isaiah King (5-8, 165), senior Tyree Jones (6-1, 175) and senior tight end Derek Wilder (6-1, 240). King is a nationally-recognized track athlete, while Wilder is son of ODU Head Football Coach Bobby Wilder.

One of the question marks for the Commodores is how quickly can they jell on the offensive line? Senior Vershawd Coleman (6-2, 205) and junior Tyrique Sharpe (6-1, 215) are the vets of a group that will have some new faces. "We look even better up front than we were last year," noted Fraser. "Some of our younger kids are better than our seniors from last year. It's going to take some of them a while to get caught up, but they're better athletically."

Defensive Outlook:
Through the first four games of last season, the Commodores limited foes to a total of 94 yards rushing. When they gave up over 100 yards on the ground, including 241 apiece to Churchland and Lake Taylor, Maury went 0-3. They'll have a new defensive coordinator this coming season in Tyler Mosley, who was with Fraser at Smithfield for six years. The Commodores will run a 4-3, but often walk a safety up in the box that acts like a linebacker and it turns into a 4-4.

Much like the o-line, Maury will be developing new starters on the defensive front to go alongside one of the few returnees in Coleman. "We rotated a lot of kids last year and there's going to be quite a few kids in that mix," said Fraser, confident in his linebackers of Sharpe, Little and Wilder, an ODU commit. In fact, the linebackers should serve as the backbone of the defense. Both Faulk and Little will alternate between strong safety and outside linebacker. King is slated to play free safety, while Jones is drawing some interest from colleges and figures to be one of the area's more underrated cover corners.

Date to Circle:
August 28 vs. Grassfield. Ordinarily, we'd look to the matchup with Lake Taylor or possibly even that rivalry showdown at the end of the season against Granby since it often has significant meaning to the playoff picture. But with eight teams going from 6A-South and 5A-South for the regional playoffs, that game may not determine whether Maury is 'in' or 'out' as far as the postseason goes, whereas this game with Grassfield could decide whether or not the Commodores are at home for the first round in 5A. Grassfield has won each of the last four meetings.

Hat's Hit:
Though I wouldn't call them mega name recruits, Maury has known commodities in Wilder and Little, plus a few emerging in CB Jones, WR King, RB Wood and LB Sharpe. Several guys go both ways, so it'll be interesting to see how they hold up. Like many teams trying to make that jump from pretty good to very good bordering elite, the Commodores need that signature win. That means they have to beat a perennial contender to boost their confidence further and make a deeper run in the playoffs.

"Of course, we want to get past the second round of the playoffs, but we've got some other business we want to take care of and kind of some nemesis out there that we haven't been able to knock off yet, like Grassfield and we haven't played Lake Taylor well. We've got some earlier short-term goals as far as be more competitive or win at least one of those two games," Fraser commented.

"Later in the season, we really had a bad game against Churchland, which really hurt us in the playoff seeding, and we learned some lessons from that Green Run game with their speed. As far as our skill kids, we're in really good shape. We're excited, yet we're cautiously nervous because we think we can be good up front, but time will tell."

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 protected], 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.

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