Bulldogs show up in first scrimmage

Published 9:24 pm Thursday, August 17, 2017

By Matthew Hatfield


The King’s Fork High School football team partook in the first of two preseason scrimmages last Friday night in Virginia Beach against the reigning Beach District Champion, the Cox Falcons.

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Fans were able to get a taste of what to expect from both teams before the games count in the standings later this month.

During the first half of the relatively scripted, controlled portion of the scrimmage, the two ranked squads with high expectations played to a stalemate. King’s Fork — rated No. 7 in Class 4 by VirginiaPreps.com — got on the scoreboard courtesy of quarterback Justin German’s 74-yard touchdown pass to receiver Cherrod Joe. A 46-yard gain on a screen pass set up a short touchdown plunge from a yard out before intermission for Cox, ranked No. 8 in Class 6 by VirginiaPreps.

However, in the second half when the scrimmage resembled more of a game with the quarterbacks live, King’s Fork flexed its muscles and flashed considerable potential with a pair of touchdowns, limiting the Falcons to just a late field goal from 48 yards out.

Coach Scottie Littles, entering his second year at the helm of King’s Fork’s football program, liked what he saw for the most part. In particular, his defensive line wreaked havoc throughout.

“We tell those guys every day that front four has to be the special group. That front four has to create the pressure, come together, and I think they did a good job,” said Littles, looking for a defense that gave up 33.8 points per game last year to improve significantly.

“We let up on a big screen and gave up a couple third downs, but I’m very pleased where that group is and where the defense is overall.”

All four of the projected starting defensive linemen for the time being — ends Sam Dunn and Dennis Whitehead as well as tackles Treyshaun Mitchell and Lakeland transfer Jayree Hardy — proved to be hard to block for Cox.

Coming in, Mitchell was expected to be a disruptive force, given that he already has multiple scholarship offers going into his sophomore season. Yet, Dunn was the surprise with a couple of sacks and a forced fumble.

“Honestly, going into camp, Dunn wasn’t going to play defensive end. Due to an injury and another issue, we had to plug him in there and he’s been really good. He might be a better defensive end than he is a receiver,” Littles said.

“With those two guys Treyshaun and Jayree in the middle, I don’t think we gave up any run plays in the middle, so I’m excited about that.”

Another plus was the play of senior quarterback Justin German, who kept mistakes and errant throws to a minimum while distributing the ball to Joe, tailback Darran Butts and the rest of the playmakers. It was German’s first live action since a torn ACL ended his junior campaign prematurely.

“I think it’s just him getting comfortable again. He’s anxious to get hit and we wanted to protect him a little bit,” Littles said.

“The thing for us is we wanted to make sure he was putting the ball where it needed to go and making the right reads. Our big emphasis this year is just be the point guard. Get it to the players and let them be special. You’re the commander of the ship, and he did a really good job.”

The Bulldogs also saw continued stellar play from T.J. Hart, who set a school record with 11 interceptions last year. Hart moved from safety to linebacker and was effective stopping the run.

“T.J. is a phenomenal athlete, and we’re blessed to have him. He has film playing (at safety) and now he’s down in the box,” Littles said. “We all knew he could tackle, has worked really hard at it and put on about 10-12 pounds of muscle. He was a force, and then with Bryan Walker at the other end, we’re pretty athletic on the edge and physical at the same time.”

Littles indicated that he’d like to see more explosion plays on offense before the Bulldogs’ next scrimmage, scheduled at home for Aug. 18 against a Heritage team that eliminated them from last year’s playoffs. Their season opener will be in Portsmouth on Aug. 25 at Wilson.