KF prepares for season opener

Published 9:17 pm Thursday, August 23, 2012

King’s Fork’s DeShawn Johnson wrestles down Booker T. Washington’s Lafayette Smallwood during last year’s season-opening game.

By Titus Mohler


Suffolk football fans are invited to breathe in the fall air as the season kicks off Friday night, with King’s Fork hosting Booker T. Washington at 7 p.m.

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“I’ve been excited about home openers since I was in middle school in eighth grade or ninth grade,” King’s Fork head coach Joe Jones said, “and I guess that was, think it was about 1976, but always excited for (an) opening game and all the coaches are, the kids are. They’re anxious to get going.”

Jones and the Bulldogs will be facing Booker T. for only the second time and they have spent a great deal of time preparing.

“We actually started doing that even in the spring,” Jones said. “Just reviewed film from last year to see how they defended us and formations and plays and things they ran against us. And of course, over the weekend, we exchanged video and saw their scrimmages.”

The previous meeting in last season’s opening game resulted in a 27-12 Bulldog loss, but there is something about that game that Jones has remembered.

“We had opportunities,” he said, “and that’s something we really have stressed all preseason that last year, when we played them, we had two great opportunities early in the first quarter where we recovered a fumble in their territory and got the ball down inside their 20 on our second play and fumbled it back to them. And the next series we blocked a punt, had it on (their) 15-yard line, and missed a couple opportunities to score and missed a field goal.”

Jones and his staff have stressed to the players the importance of momentum and taking advantage of it to keep Booker T. on their heels.

The coach went through his quick checklist for Friday night.

“It’s no secret for us to be successful,” he said. “One, we’ve got to stay healthy, especially on our line, and we got to win that battle up front. And two, we’ve got to take advantage of turnovers, we’ve got to lead the charge in turnovers and turn them into points. And we’ve got to protect the ball on offense.”

Even though Booker T. has not been a frequent opponent, Jones indicated that their style of play presents a familiar challenge.

“It’s a lot of what we see — they spread it out a lot and then use their athletes,” he said. “They’ve got good athletes and they’ve got speed, which is prevalent throughout our district.”

Veteran stars Charles Clark and Davon Grayson will be counted on to lead the Bulldogs if health allows. Clark is ready, but Grayson is listed as questionable while nursing a sore ankle. His participation will be a game-time decision.

Jones feels that his defensive front will play an important role, and he expressed his confidence in them.

“Our defensive line is a key, because we’ve got to be able to take care of the line of scrimmage and win the battle up front,” he said. “We have our three linebackers: DeShawn Johnson, T.C. Livingston, and Will Black. DeShawn and T.C., both, this will be their third year as starters and Will Black, it will be his second year, so we’ve got good experience at our three linebacker positions.”

After an unusually wet preseason, Jones pointed out that the weather seems to be clearing up at the perfect time.

“Forecast is low chance of rain Friday, so we should have a fairly dry Friday night,” Jones said. “So, hope everybody will come out, support us, and cheer us on to victory.”