Millbrook’s Josh Haymore and Sherando’s Bill Hall aren’t worried about the fact that their football teams are facing each other for the second time in just 14 days tonight.
There’s plenty of other things that are keeping the head coaches busy as they prepare to face each other in a 6 p.m. clash at Millbrook.
“There are challenges, but that’s not at the top of the list right now,” Hall said of facing the Pioneers again so quickly. “Right now you are in such a compressed window and you are trying to focus on your team and how it can improve. It wouldn’t matter if we played the same team four times in a row. … Really it’s all about our kids right now and focusing on how can we get better, how can we serve these kids and how we can make it the best experience, while also realizing their potential.”
“Coaches by the time the first game usually rolls around, everything is installed and everything is ready to go,” Haymore said. “You’re just fine tuning things, running different things out of different formations or a couple of different blitzes for certain teams. It’s not a huge disadvantage.”
Both teams are coming off of comeback wins last Friday in “Plus One” games against opponents which had played a VHSL six-game season and both coaches say they saw development from their squads from the season opener, which Sherando won 31-17 over Millbrook.
The Pioneers trailed 22-21 early in the fourth quarter Friday against Fauquier, but rallied to a 36-29 triumph behind two final-period rushing touchdowns from Diante Ball and a defense that held on three consecutive possessions during the comeback.
“I thought at times we played really well and I thought at times we played not very good,” Haymore said of the triumph, which also included a 60-yard touchdown strike from Detric Brown to Jacob Ford and B.J. Canada’s 103-yard interception return for a TD. “I thought our kids played hard. I thought they played all of the way to the last whistle, obviously. We won the football game. I mean they had already played six games and we had played one. That was a big advantage that they had over us.
“I think we made those improvements,” Haymore added. “Were there things we messed up? Yeah, but I think we improved offensively and defensively.”
Sherando fell behind 21-6 early in the second quarter, but roared back behind three touchdown passes from Dylan Rodeffer and a defense that blanked the Blue Devils in the second half for a 45-21 win.
Rodeffer completed 18 of 25 passes for 290 yards and Cameron Sullivan rushed for 210 yards on 21 carries as the Warriors racked up 529 yards in total offense. Sherando was able to overcome 15 penalties and 279 rushing yards by Culpeper.
“We shot ourselves in the foot a lot, but again that would be on par for like a second scrimmage where there still are those types of mistakes,” Hall said. “They are just magnified obviously in a game. Again, we do so much offensively and defensively and the guys are keyed up because they get a chance to play, all of those things factor into that.
“It’s important we get better at that. Really, it’s a balancing act how much we can put in and execute at a high level without shooting ourselves in the foot. More of it has been focus things.”
While he said his team is continuing to work on focus, Hall did see improvements in Week 2. He certainly liked the way his team recovered from the early 15-point deficit.
“The last thing these kids need is for me to like rip their tails and stuff about issues,” he said. “They’re playing under a lot of adversity. They’re playing in the middle of a pandemic. They’re playing outside of the Virginia High School League. You name it, there’s a lot going against them. I’m their No. 1 fan and supporter.
“The key thing that we always talk about each year and any year is that mistakes happen and things happen in life. It’s how you respond that really defines who you are and the success you’re ultimately going to have. I think we had 10 penalties in the first half last week. We just kept playing which is a true tribute to those kids. They just kept responding. I felt good about what we were doing and the people we had doing it. It was just keep responding and eventually those things would click into place. Obviously it did, especially in the second half.”
In Game 1, Sherando rallied after Millbrook had gone up 14-7 early in the second quarter. The teams finished relatively even in total offense (Sherando held a 340-316 edge), but used different strategies. Brown threw for 305 in that contest. The Warriors, led by Sullivan (139) and Aydan Willis (116) rushed for 309.
While Rodeffer aired it out more last week, Haymore didn’t see a lot of new things from Sherando on film.
“They did a couple of things just because Culpeper does things different than what we do,” Haymore said. “We don’t line up in the same formations as Culpeper does.”
Hall doesn’t expect to alter much from the first game plan he had ready for the Pioneers. The big change he’s hoping for less wind than in the blustery, cold opener.
“The first game for us against them, the wind was blowing 25 mph,” Hall said. “It wasn’t really ideal. We only used a component of our game plan originally. We obviously tweaked it some on the passing part of that. We just went back to what originally we had planned.”
Both coaches are looking for continued improvement in Round 2 against each other.
“[I hope to see] the same effort,” said Haymore, referring to the Week 2 win over Fauquier. “I thought we played hard all night. We didn’t show any kind of let up or anything like that. We made mistakes, but everybody does. I want to see these guys play hard again.
“I told them one of the things I enjoy most about football is seeing them have fun,” he added. “There were some times you could tell we weren’t really having fun, but the majority of the time the other night we were having a good time. We played hard, had long passes and were making big plays. It’s just go out, play hard and have fun.”
Hall would like to see his squad sharpen a couple of things.
“A four-quarter effort would be great, not that there won’t be effort there,” Hall said. “Effort is not a problem. The focus and execution is part of it. It’s always emotional when you’re playing games against people that you know. Really the focus needs to be all about us and the experience we have together. We only get a couple of these, so I really want them to be present together for four quarters.”