Football playoffs: No. 9 King’s Fork at No. 1 PhoebusPublished 10:03pm Thursday, November 21, 2013
“Raise the bar” has been the motto this year for King’s Fork High School’s football team. It did that last week by producing the first football playoff win and first 8-win football season in school history.
Now the Bulldogs (8-3) must set that aside and see just how far they can go.
“We’ve played some tough teams close,” King’s Fork head coach Joe Jones said.
Earlier this season, the Bulldogs fell narrowly to Grassfield High School, which is now 9-2, and challenged Western Branch High School, now 10-1. Tonight No. 9 King’s Fork takes on No. 1 Phoebus High School (10-1) in the next round of the Group 4A South Region playoffs.
Jones and his coaching staff had a message for their team this week. “We said for us to make the next step, we’ve got to win a big game like this,” he said.
To win, the Bulldogs will have to reckon with the Phantoms’ running game, led by senior running back and Virginia Tech commit Marshawn Williams. He ran for over 1,700 yards in the regular season.
“He runs well, he runs hard, he’s got good speed, he’s a North-South runner,” Jones said.
In a 56-7 win over No. 16 Caroline High School last week, Williams ran for 197 yards and five touchdowns.
“He gets a lot of yards after that first hit,” Jones said, so following fundamentals on tackling will be key. After the first tackler gets him, Jones said, “We’ve got to gang tackle him.”
The Phantoms have a couple of 300-pound players on their line, and some in the 280s that the Bulldogs will need to deal with.
“We’ve got to be able to neutralize the line of scrimmage and let our linebackers go make tackles,” Jones said.
And King’s Fork cannot afford to focus completely on the run.
“They utilize their play-action pass a lot because they run (the ball) so much,” Jones said.
While much of the Phantoms’ 429 offensive yards against Caroline came on the ground, 163 came through the air.
“Our (defensive backs) have worked a lot on their coverages so that if they do put it up, we’re not going to fall asleep and forget about the pass,” Jones said.
When the Bulldogs’ offense is on the field, Jones said, “We’re going to do what we do. We’re going to run that option.”
Jones hopes to see an improved offensive performance compared to the inconsistent one his team produced last Friday.
The goals will be to make Phoebus defend all three parts of the triple option and keep a lookout for play-action pass opportunities, all while taking care of the football to avoid turnovers.
King’s Fork has no major injuries to report following last week’s game.
Kick-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. tonight at Joseph S. Darling Memorial Stadium in Hampton.