Bulldogs upset undefeated GrassfieldPublished 12:34am Saturday, October 20, 2012
By Matthew Hatfield
Ever since the school opened in 2004, the King’s Fork High School football team has been seeking a defining moment, a victory over one of the area’s top contenders that would launch them.
On Friday night at Grassfield High School in Chesapeake, the Bulldogs spoiled homecoming for the undefeated Grizzlies with a 25-21 upset that pushed their record to 6-2 overall, 5-2 in the Southeastern District and moved them one step closer to their first postseason appearance in school history.
“You’re always looking for that signature win for your program and your school,” King’s Fork head coach Joe Jones said. “With the school being nine years old, this was definitely a signature win for us. These guys have been resilient, and this is a culmination of a lot of hard work over the years.
“I remember six years ago being here in the stands watching King’s Fork win their sixth game and have their first and only winning season. I thought what a great place to coach it would be, and never thought it would happen. Now six years later, one of the biggest wins if not the biggest win of the short history of the school.”
A 27-yard punt return by Virginia Tech commit Charles Clark, the reigning Southeastern District Defensive Player of the Year, gave the Bulldogs good field position for their second offensive series at the Grassfield 38-yard line. After eight straight rushes netted 32 yards, King’s Fork went for it on fourth and two from the Grizzlies’ 6-yard line, where Clark was stopped a yard shy of the first down on a toss play.
On the very next play, Grassfield struck first with a 95-yard touchdown pass from Blake LaRussa to Paris Smith. However, that 7-0 deficit didn’t discourage the Bulldogs. King’s Fork’s fourth offensive possession was perhaps its finest as the team put together a seven-play, 79-yard drive in 2:15 that ended with a 15-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Uriah Adams to senior Davon Grayson, an East Carolina commit. That tied the score at 7 with 9:29 until the half.
“When we didn’t cash in on the goal-line, we still had faith in our team that we would create a turnover or make some kind of play,” said Grayson, who made four receptions for 33 yards. “Since the first day of camp from our ninth grade years, we knew we had the talent. This was homecoming for them, everything was upbeat and we just had to go with the flow.”
Grassfield took the lead back on LaRussa’s 33-yard touchdown to Smith with 4:56 left in the second quarter. To start the next King’s Fork series, Adams completed a 34-yard pass to Clark down to the Grasssfield 25-yard line. Three plays later, Adams converted a third down with an 11-yard run inside the 10-yard line, but the drive stalled and they settled for a 25-yard field goal from Austin Wall to trim the deficit to 14-10 going to the half.
To begin the third quarter, Grassfield muffed the opening kickoff, and Clark alertly hopped on it for the Bulldogs at the Grizzlies’ 31-yard line. Adams went on to fake out a defender on third and six for a 7-yard touchdown run. Wall converted a 2-point conversion pass to sophomore Camryn Little to push King’s Fork’s lead to 18-14 at the 9:26 mark of the third period.
King’s Fork would go into the fourth quarter trailing 21-18, but it was the final play of the third quarter that swung momentum with Grassfield fumbling in the red zone, resulting in one of two recoveries on the night by senior linebacker Deshawn Johnson.
Adams, who finished with 124 yards passing to go with 63 yards rushing, capped a 76-yard drive with a 24-yard touchdown pass to freshman running back Deshaun Wethington, who ran for 69 yards on 14 attempts to spearhead a balanced ground game that finished with 194 yards.
“This was like our first playoff game. Some people might call a win like this luck, but I don’t call it that, because I call it preparation,” Adams commented. “We prepared for this, and we’ve been preparing since the winter.”
Next week, the Bulldogs play Deep Creek in their final home game of the regular season before traveling to Oscar Smith. Regardless of how the rest of the season plays out, the victory over a perennial contender in Grassfield will be one Jones, his coaching staff, players and fans always remember.
“I love football, and I’ve had my run. I got to fulfill as much of my dream as I could fulfill as far as a player. As a coach, seeing the smiles on their faces, the look in their eye, this is a first for these guys,” explained Jones, a former NFL player.
“The feeling that they’ll have on the way back and when they walk into school on Monday, knowing people are going to be behind them, it’s just great because we’ve been through a lot.”