Playoff football is here

Published 10:24 pm Thursday, November 10, 2016

The playoff season is here for high school football, and it will feature three Suffolk schools. Lakeland High School will have a home game this week, while the Bulldogs and Warriors are on the road.

3A East (3) Lakeland High School (5-5) vs. (6) Poquoson High School (6-4)

The Cavs will open up the postseason at home, and will be the only Suffolk school to do so this year.

Email newsletter signup

The opportunity the Cavs have is indicative of how much better they have gotten during the last year.

Last year the Cavs were 2-8 and had to travel to South Hill to face Park View High school, a game they won 21-14. In the next round, they lost on the road to Poquoson 28-0.

This Friday, the Cavs have an opportunity to avenge their loss from last year.

“We accomplished one of our goals which was to get home-field advantage,” Cavs coach Kevin Knight said. “We have to make use of the opportunity to be able to play in front of our fans. They have been great all year.”

Preparation has been good for the Cavs this week, and they will do their best to make sure they don’t play the same against the Islanders as they did last year. Senior running back Damontra Milteer and sophomore quarterback Tyquan Holloman will look to lead the Cavs offense. Players like Alajuwun Langston, who had 150 yards receiving and two touchdowns against Nansemond River last week, will need to be accounted for as well. Defensively, Lakeland wants to make sure they force at least three turnovers.

“This game is real big, and we play at home,” Milteer said of the Cavs matchup. “We owe our fans for their support to bring them a win at home. Also, the seniors want to play as long as we can, so we have to make sure we play hard to be able to do that.”

Lakeland is currently on a three-game losing streak, but the record doesn’t tell the tale of who their opponents were. Last week, they lost 27-24 in overtime to the Warriors, a 5A school. Before that, they lost to Grassfield, which is a 6A school. Defensively, the Cavs have shown the ability to be sharp, focused and stingy, as they limited a powerhouse Oscar Smith offense to only 17 points on their home field this year.

The Cavs have been battle tested with their schedule this year, while the Islanders only have one win against teams with a .500-plus record.

Lakeland will be at home against Poquoson at 7 p.m. Friday.

5A South (6) Nansemond River High School (6-4) at (3) Norview High School (8-2)

The Warriors will face the Pilots for the second time in a row for the first round of the playoffs. Last year, the teams met as fourth and fifth seeds, and though the Pilots won last year, 19-7, it was not all smooth sailing for them.

This year, the Pilots are the favorites again, but the Warriors are determined to change that narrative this year.

“I think we are prepared and ready,” Warriors coach David Coccoli said. “We have a good opponent. We have to have good ball control on offense and work from there.”

Ball control starts and ends with the Warriors running game. JeVon Waller, Ray Goodman and Anthony Oliphant will have to be solid in the Warriors backfield. Waller had 119 yards and two touchdowns in last week’s win against Lakeland, and the Warriors feel that the overtime win will carry momentum into this game.

“This is a big game for both teams,” Waller said. “We get a chance against the team that took us out last year, and they want to get further in the playoffs. I think it’ll be as good as last year’s game if not better.”

Nansemond River is a younger team than they were last year, as they only return 11 starters to the Pilots’ 22. Defensively, the Warriors will have to contain the Pilots’ rushing attack as well. Kevin Marks, Norview’s running back, rushed for 1,732 yards during the regular season. They also have a receiver, Anton Ashby, who had 1,000 yards receiving this year.

“We are going to have to make sure we wrap up and not miss tackles,” Coccoli said.

The Warriors have not won a playoff game on the 5A-6A level, which will add motivation to accomplish that.

“With the young football team we have, it would be quite an achievement if we gave this school their first playoff win,” Coccoli said.

Nansemond River will be at Norview at 7 p.m. Friday.

4A East (6) King’s Fork High School (4-6) at (3) Heritage High School (7-3)

The Bulldogs will be on the road Saturday afternoon to face the third-seeded Hurricanes.

King’s Fork High School is coming off of a huge offensive explosion from last week against Deep Creek. The Hurricanes and Bulldogs are familiar with each other, as they scrimmaged each other during the summer.

“We got a glimpse of who they are, as well as they do with us,” Bulldogs coach Scottie Littles said. “It’s going to come down to basic football, who doesn’t turn the ball over and who stops the run.”

Littles described his team as being “locked in,” even saying out of his years of coaching experience these last few days of practice for the Bulldogs have been among the most impressive he’s seen.

“The kids are having fun again,” Littles said. “The kids have been working hard watching film. They’re starting to understand what it takes to win, and once you understand that, you don’t want to lose it.”

“We are getting back to the type of football we were playing at the beginning of the season,” junior running back Darran Butts said. “When we play that way, we are a pretty hard team to stop.”

Saturday, the Bulldogs want to contain the Hurricanes athletes. It starts with their quarterback, who is a dual-threat Navy commit, as well as the receivers they have on the outside.

John Woods will be making his fourth start for the Bulldogs and is coming off his best game, where he went 18-25 for 283 yards and four touchdowns. Butts finished the regular season with 1,175 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns. Receiver Cherrod Joe has 821 receiving yards and six touchdowns for the Bulldogs as well.

King’s Fork will play Heritage at Todd Stadium in Newport News at 2 p.m. Saturday.