Warriors look to build on opening win

Published 11:04 pm Thursday, September 11, 2014

Nansemond River (1-0) at Churchland (2-0) – 7 p.m.

Last season: Churchland 27, Nansemond River 8

The Nansemond River High School football team registered a big upset last week with a 21-19 victory over host Grassfield High School, but the Warriors have been reviewing the importance of moving on this week.

“We’ve had some good practices,” NR coach David Coccoli said, adding his team is focused on the rest of the season. “Game one is always good to win, but we’ve still got nine left to go.”

Nansemond River High School senior quarterback DeShon Saunders looks to pass during practice on Thursday afternoon in preparation for tonight's game at Churchland High School.

Nansemond River High School senior quarterback DeShon Saunders looks to pass during practice on Thursday afternoon in preparation for tonight’s game at Churchland High School.

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The Warriors’ next opponent, Churchland High School, has already emerged the victor in both a blowout and a close, comeback game.

The Truckers followed up an impressive 8-3 turnaround season in 2013 with a 42-14 road win over Warhill High School to open the 2014 schedule. Then, they generated 13 unanswered second-half points last week for a 13-10 win against host York High School.

“They’re a solid football team,” Coccoli said of Churchland. “They run the ball well, they’re big up front.”

Against Warhill, junior running back Jamil Edwards ran for 143 yards and three touchdowns, and he scored on a 28-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter against York.

Coccoli also noted Churchland junior quarterback Corey Gause has some effectiveness throwing the ball, and he has some effective pass-catchers, too.

Gause threw scoring passes of 40 and 38 yards to junior wideouts Mike Huff and Terrence Harris, respectively, against Warhill, and he also connected with Huff for a 7-yard score against York.

“Defensively, they’ve got some athletes that play linebacker,” Coccoli said.

The Truckers defense forced four turnovers in their season opener and helped hold York scoreless in the second half last week.

“We definitely have our work cut out for us,” the coach said.

Noting the Warriors’ areas of needed improvement this week, Coccoli cited the team’s run defense, which allowed 180 yards by Grassfield.

He also pointed out that Nansemond River did not score in the second half last Friday and will need to step up its offense to avoid this happening again. He said special teams could use some attention, too.

The Warriors are fairly healthy, but have lost freshman JeVon Waller for the season due to injury. He was expected to make an important impact as a defensive back.

“We’re definitely missing him, it was a big blow for us, but we’ve had some guys step up, and we’ve got to move forward,” Coccoli said.