After a dominating season-opening win, the Clarke County football team was feeling pretty good.
Scoring on all six possessions, not suffering a turnover and recording a shutout on defense will make you feel that way.
“The excitement is high,” Coach Chris Parker said of his team’s response to its 42-0 romp against Buffalo Gap on Week 1. “It’s really nice when you win the opener because school starts and there’s a lot of electricity in the air.”
But the Eagles couldn’t ride that wave of success into Week 2 because there was no game to be played. Clarke County had a bye week last Friday and will get back into action at 7 p.m. tonight at William Monroe in Stanardsville.
After gaining a measure of revenge against the team that eliminated them in the Region 2B playoffs last November, the Eagles were in full pads for three days during the bye week.
“We basically just tried to keep our conditioning up,” Parker said of the focus on the bye week. “Offensively, we practiced on some plays that maybe we haven’t run that much. We sorta stayed in a normal practice routine. We threw some special teams in there and tried to fine-tune some stuff.”
Having the week off, gave time for the Eagles to scout William Monroe (0-2), who they haven’t played since 2016. They watched as the Dragons were humbled 75-13 by unbeaten Spotswood, which opened the season with a 20-12 win over future Clarke County opponent East Rockingham.
Spotswood quarterback Ryan High, who missed the season opener after an appendectomy, threw for six touchdowns (four to Rob Smith) as the Trailblazers built a 55-7 lead. Three of the TD passes to Smith were 78 yards or longer.
“William Monroe was giving up those big plays against them, but they were playing a pretty good team,” Parker said. “Especially early in the game, they fought and gave [Spotswood] all it could handle. Then, the wheels sort of fell off for them.”
Clarke County isn’t going to get pass-happy, but the Eagles can carve up foes in several ways with its single wing offense. Peyton Rutherford rushed for 159 yards and two scores as Clarke County netted 300 rushing yards in the opener. Quarterback Colby Childs was 4-for-4 for 100 yards and a score.
“I think that we’ll be able to use balance against them,” Parker said. “I think that if we do what we do and protect the ball we’ll be fine. I have confidence in our line and along with our running game that will produce opportunities for the pass, too.”
Rutherford could crack a milestone tonight. The senior is 39 yards shy of hitting the 4,000-yard mark for his career.
“He is a team player, but he has worked very hard in the offseason,” Parker said of the 6-foot, 210-pounder. “He works hard obviously during the season. It will help our team when he keeps running hard like that. I’m really happy for him, too, with that individual goal.”
William Monroe has struggled to score, putting up 15 points (two coming on a safety) in its first two games. Quarterback Jared Knight threw two TD passes, including a 76-yarder to Logan Barbour against Spotswood.
The Dragons will face a defense that did not allow a completed pass against Buffalo Gap. Led by linebackers Cody Sowers (11 tackles) and Sam Brumback (10 tackles), the Eagles held the Bison to 156 total yards.
“I have a lot of confidence in our defense and we’re healthy,” Parker said. “I think our kids will be chomping at the bit and ready to go after a week off. We’re not taking them lightly whatsoever, but our guys will be ready to go.”
After such a good start (the Eagles also had just three penalties in the opener), Parker is hoping to see more of the same against William Monroe, which has not been closer than three touchdowns in six meetings against Clarke County since 2010.
“I just want to see us play mistake-free football and do our assignments,” Parker said. “If we do that, I’m very confident we can win the game. They’ve always had good athletes. They have good size. Our guys have been able in the past, and I’m hoping the same thing continues, to wear them down and in the process make big plays, too.”