Football season kicks off

Published 10:56pm Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The King’s Fork High School Bulldogs will be the first of Suffolk’s schools to kick off the football season, and they will do so on the road tonight against Deep Creek High School.

“Man, it’s a feeling like no other getting ready for a football game, but especially opening night,” Bulldogs head coach Joe Jones told his players earlier this week.

After a 7-4 record and the school’s first playoff berth last year, Jones said expectations have never been higher.

Preparation for the Hornets has not been lacking because Jones said, “The first opponent gets the most work.” He began getting his team ready for Deep Creek even in the first pre-season practice.

The two schools have exchanged tapes of their scrimmages, and Jones said the Hornets held their own against schools like Heritage, Hampton and Princess Anne High School.

Though Deep Creek won just a single game last year, Jones expects the Hornets to be improved, simply because their head coach, Calvin Copeland, has had a chance to settle in.

“They’ve had their new head coach for a full season and a full off-season,” he said. “I know from experience that makes a huge difference. Deep Creek is usually physical and hard-nosed, and they’ve got some tough kids over there, and they play hard.”

The Bulldogs got a preview of the strength of the Hornets’ lineman at the Peanut City Shootout in June.

Deep Creek runs a 4-3 defense, and King’s Fork has practiced against that formation in its scrimmages.

Regarding the Hornets offense, Jones said, “They have a couple running backs that are quick and have good speed.”

“We’ve got to be able to come off our blocks and make tackles,” he said.

He emphasized the importance of executing and eliminating penalties in all three phases of the game: offense, defense and special teams.

Executing does not just mean pulling off a complex play with perfect timing and accuracy, but it also involves heeding fundamentals. On offense, it includes blocking and holding onto the football; on defense, it includes filling holes and making tackles; on special teams, it includes staying in your running lanes on kickoffs and making sure to tackle returners.

“In our district, you always have to have your ‘A’ game,” Jones said.

The coach said he likes being able to start the season early.

“It allows us to have the opportunity to, as we hope, be successful going into the first week of school,” he said.

He can also take Friday to gather the team and watch the film, lift weights, work with the junior varsity players and scout some games.

“This is an exciting time,” Jones said. “Since I was in ninth grade, I’ve always had an opening game either as a player or a coach.”

The next one begins tonight at 7 p.m. in Chesapeake.

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