football

2014 Smithfield Packers Preview

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href="http://matthewhatfield.com/Football/2014_VHSL_Tidewater_HighSchoolFootball_Schedules.pdf">
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115%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";text-decoration:none;text-underline:
none'>2014 Tidewater Football Schedules
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href="http://matthewhatfield.com/Football/2013_VHSL_Tidewater_HighSchoolFootball_Schedules.pdf">
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115%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";text-decoration:none;text-underline:
none'>2013 Tidewater Football Schedules & Results
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Ag4ar06strglsn42gvrd
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Rivers District, Class 4A, Region 4A South
Head Coach: Clark Harrell

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History:
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2011 - - 1-9 (missed playoffs)
2012 - - 10-2 (lost to Courtland
18-15 in regional final)
2013 - - 4-6 (missed playoffs)

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Rewind:
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style=>
line-height:115%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif"'>In 2012, Harrell
orchestrated one of the finest turnarounds as the Packers went from a squad
well below .500 searching for answers to winning all but two of their 12 games
and finishing as a Region I Division 4 finalist.
style=> With youth galore in 2013, including freshmen
starters at tailback and wide receiver along with a new quarterback, the
Packers struggled. Following a
three-game winning streak that put them at 4-2, Smithfield dropped its final
four games to Bay Rivers District opponents, missing the postseason for the
third time in four years.

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Offensive Outlook:
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style=>
line-height:115%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-font-family:Calibri;
mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-latin'>When Bruce Cypress went down with an injury
early last season, it really took away a dimension of their offensive attack and
prevented them from putting up better numbers than their 21.4 points per game,
which was still enough to keep them competitive.
style=> Impressively, they did it with a couple of
freshmen playing key roles in tailback Donald
King (5-10, 185) and
class=SpellE>wideout Chris '
class=SpellE>Junie' Pierce (6-3, 205).
style=> King ran for 1043 yards and 15 touchdowns a
season ago, while Pierce is a two-sport standout with the next-level frame and
skills to cause mismatches.

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>As a team, the Packers threw for only 608 yards, a
number that'll need to increase in order for them to be more productive on
offense. Three guys are vying for the
quarterback job with juniors Lowell
Patron (6-1, 180) and Nick Turner (5-11,
165) as well as senior Devin Williams (5-11,
160), who could also see time at receiver.
While King and Pierce are the two playmakers most everyone will be
watching, Smithfield returns 10 offensive starters, one of which is senior
tight end/h-back James Green (6-0, 195).
style=> A three-year starter, Green had nearly 300
yards receiving and 3TD's last year.

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>Also figuring into the mix at receiver will be seniors
style='mso-bidi-font-weight:normal'>Nick Wells (6-3, 180) and
style='mso-bidi-font-weight:normal'>Mario Bibbins (5-10,
160) as well as sophomore Jaquan Ridley (6-0,
185). Another sophomore,
style='mso-bidi-font-weight:normal'>Will Robinson (5-9, 190), could
occasionally spell King running the ball.
On the offensive line, the Packers have seven bodies for five positions
with seniors Collin Todd (6-1, 260),
Jay Burke (6-1, 265) and
style='mso-bidi-font-weight:normal'>Will Brayshaw (6-4,
240); juniors Mason McCarthy (6-5,
285), Cole Manfred (6-0, 195) and
style='mso-bidi-font-weight:normal'>Ross Manfred (6-0, 270); and sophomore
style='mso-bidi-font-weight:normal'>Raekwon Batten (6-0, 215).

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Defensive Outlook:
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minor-latin'> Defensively, the Packers
had problems last year and that's where their inexperience at all three levels
cost them. They went from surrendering
13 points per game to yielding around 27 a contest, more than double.
style=> What's the main concern?
style=> "Stopping the run," Harrell answered.
style=> On the plus side, they aren't throwing the
same number of freshmen in the fire and instead sprinkle in about four or five
sophomores with juniors and seniors.
That should allow them to improve some, even if it's not drastically, on
this side of the ball from a statistical standpoint.

"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-font-family:Calibri;mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-latin'>To
go with 10 offensive starters returning, Smithfield has 10 defensive starters
back, according to Harrell. Pierce and
fellow sophomore Jack Darden (6-2,
215) should easily combine for double-digit sacks from the d-end spots.
style=> Meanwhile, Todd, Brayshaw
and Ross Manfred will handle the duties at d-tackle.
style=> Green, who had 71 tackles in 2013, and junior
Ben Jones (5-10, 195) are sure
tacklers at linebacker. Junior
style='mso-bidi-font-weight:normal'>Will Robinson (5-10, 190) is slated to
play the weak outside 'backer spot.

"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-font-family:Calibri;mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-latin'>What
Smithfield wants to see is someone in the secondary show the knack for finding
the football against the pass like Pierce and Darden do up front against the
run. Seniors
normal'>Antonio Shaw (5-9, 165) and Devin
Simmons (5-9, 170) are the projected starters at corner, while Ridley and
Wells hold down things at safety. They could
do some mixing and matching with lineups, possibly using King at DB, moving
Green from linebacker to safety, and even playing Pierce at outside 'backer.

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Date to Circle:
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minor-latin'> October 17 vs.
Lafayette. One can make the case that
the 62-0 loss to Lafayette last year was the one that took Smithfield from in
the playoff picture to out. Certainly,
if they win tight games in the weeks that followed to Poquoson that they lost
35-33 and York that they lost 15-14, it's a moot point.
style=> But it began a four-game losing skid, and
while nobody will expect them to beat consensus BRD favorite Lafayette, they
will have the game at home this year and playing them within two or three
touchdowns ought to give them the confidence to close on a three-game winning
streak that gets them in the postseason.

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Hat's Hit:
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style=> With RB King and WR Pierce back in the fold,
the Packers have, "potential to be good on offense," as Harrell stated.
style=> Those are two of the best weapons in the Bay
Rivers District to have, and best of all they have them for three more
seasons. That gives them reason to
believe they can finish atop the Bay Rivers some time between now and
2016. In order for that goal to become a
reality, it will take a few things to happen.

"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-font-family:Calibri;mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-latin'>Clearly,
the Packers will have to get consistency and mistake-free play from the
quarterback position to think about finishing higher than their projection of
third behind Lafayette and Tabb in the Bay Rivers District.
style=> Furthermore, if they become a turnover-prone
offense and the defense shows weaknesses they can't hide, the Packers could
have another late-season slide like the one they experienced last year.
style=> The defense has to make a jump up this year
or else it'll be another year without being in the playoffs.

"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-font-family:Calibri;mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-latin'>In
seven of the past nine seasons, Smithfield has finished with a winning record,
so last year was more of an aberration their fans believe with a bunch of
underclassmen seeing the field. They'll
still have a host of sophomores seeing extended minutes, but they are now more seasoned
and very capable of getting them above the .500 mark with a playoff berth in
Group 4A. Now, once in the postseason
provided they get there, it'll be a challenge dealing with the '757' area teams
with great speed and better depth like Phoebus, Lake Taylor, Heritage,
class=SpellE>Norcom and King's Fork.

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115%;font-family:"Times New Roman","serif";text-decoration:none;text-underline:
none'>Matthew Hatfield
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Network. Check out
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