Chargers prep for Mustang rematch

Published 9:44 pm Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Suffolk Chargers will take on their divisional rivals, the Portsmouth Mustangs, again this weekend after coming off a difficult two weeks.

This past weekend was meant to be a bye week for the local semi-professional team, but a last-minute scheduling change by the Atlantic Coast Football Alliance put the Chargers in a game against the Charlottesville Kryptonite.

“A lot of the guys, like me, had made prior arrangements,” Suffolk head coach Tony Bateman said.

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The Chargers were only able to send about 15 of their 35 players. It resulted in a 20-0 loss, but it has yet to be determined if it will count against Suffolk’s record, given the circumstances.

The week before, the Chargers faced the Mustangs for the first time, losing in overtime, 14-8. Bateman said it was exactly what he expected it would be: “It was a defensive slugfest.”

He had a good reason for knowing what to anticipate.

“I actually coached them back in 2009, and I’m familiar with a lot of their players,” he said. “Our team, in some ways, is built and designed to compete with a team like that.”

There was a single offensive touchdown in the game that did not come until overtime. The Mustangs blocked a punt in the first quarter and ran it in, taking an 8-0 lead.

The Chargers responded in the second quarter when Cameron Collier sacked Portsmouth’s quarterback, who fumbled in the end zone and Devante Dukes recovered for the touchdown. Walter Boykins ran in the two-point conversion to tie the game up.

The Mustangs used a big punt return in overtime to get close to the end zone and eventually punched it in.

“We dropped a total of six passes, four of which were in the second half, including less than a minute to go,” Bateman said.

He said the missed opportunities left a bad taste in everybody’s mouth but will fuel them this weekend.

“Defensively, we played as well as we always do,” he said, and he will be counting on that again.

The Mustangs tried to spread out the Chargers defense with four or five receivers, but were unable to beat Suffolk man-to-man. Bateman is counting on that again for Saturday.

“What we’re trying to do is take advantage of the fact that our linebackers can cover, if need be,” he said, referring to Gary Bush, Aaron Harris and Ricky Wilson. “Their linebackers cannot.”

Because of that, Batmen said he plans to use their tactics offensively, spreading the Mustangs out.

Boykins, the Chargers’ starting quarterback, was injured in the Charlottesville game and is out for the season. Kendall Mooney, replacing him at quarterback, will use his athleticism and quickness to make it hard for the Mustangs to sack him.

Andre “AJ” Harper is questionable, with a knee injury.

“We control our destiny at the moment,” Bateman said in terms of the post-season. “The next couple games will go a long way to determining whether or not we make the playoffs.”

Suffolk (2-2, 1-2) will play the Mustangs (4-1, 3-0) at Dré Bly Field in Virginia Beach on Saturday with a 6 p.m. kickoff.