Nansemond River, King’s Fork advance to regional playoffs

Published 4:21 pm Tuesday, November 22, 2022

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By Matthew Hatfield

Contributing writer

For the second year in a row, Nansemond River used some late-game heroics to advance in the Region 5B playoffs against Kecoughtan in a battle of schools sharing the same nickname of Warriors.

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Trailing 14-7 in the fourth quarter, Nansemond River scored the game’s final two touchdowns in a span of less than six minutes to prevail 21-14 and improve to 8-3 overall. With the win, they earned a spot in the Region 5B championship.

“I’ve been saying it all year and that’s these guys are resilient. They responded and answered the call in a win-or-go-home with that mentality. We’ve got some guys that can make plays in those moments and it showed,” Nansemond River head coach Alonzo Ricks Jr. said.

Kecoughtan scored on its opening possession with a rushing touchdown. Nansemond River responded with a score.

The Warriors – from Suffolk – turned the football over deep in Kecoughtan territory. Kecoughtan capitalized and took a 14-7 lead at the break with a touchdown on a slant pass.  From there, the defensive unit and special teams took charge.

“Our defense did an outstanding job and our punter, Noah McClee, changed the field position for us like he’s been doing all season.  Then we started to get it going in the fourth quarter to give me gray hair and high blood pressure,” Ricks quipped.  “I’m grateful for us to be able to keep moving forward.”

Kicker Dallas Slaughter made all three of his extra points. Immanuel Ezeogu and Marquez Warren had 10 total tackles apiece. Ezeogu had three stops behind the line of scrimmage, a forced fumble and a pass breakup. Mike Thomas added seven tackles and Nick Grier chipped in five tackles.  Lataveon Brandon came up with the game-ending interception.

Offensively, the Warriors were led by dual-threat junior QB Alkendric Overton, who completed six of 11 passes for 72 yards and a touchdown to Nasir Holland. Overton added 37 yards rushing and a pair of scores.  Melvin Brown ran 16 times for 68 yards and Terrell ‘Philly’ Douglas was their leading receiver with four catches for 48 yards.

Up next for Nansemond River is a trip to Powhatan Field in Norfolk to take on Maury (8-1), which blanked Menchville 37-0 in its regional semifinal as the Commodores seek a fifth consecutive regional crown.

“We’re excited. These are things we talk about daily,” Ricks said. “To be able to have this opportunity, we don’t take it for granted considering the number of quality teams that have already gone home so far this season.  As for Maury, they are who they are. This is their fifth or sixth straight year going on to the regional finals and it’s a program that is used to this, moving on to the state level. We aspire to do that,”

“We want to be fundamentally sound as well as win the third and fourth down conversions, both offensively and defensively.  It’s going to come down to executing whatever is called and make it a chess match.  If we can do those things necessary, then perhaps we give ourselves a chance on Friday night.”

King’s Fork to face Warwick for Region 4A title

The King’s Fork Bulldogs were extremely glad to see Cameron Butler back in the lineup.

With the senior signal caller returning to field for the first time since the regular season finale loss to Nansemond River in overtime when he sustained a concussion, King’s Fork cruised in its Region 4A semifinal against third-seeded Warhill, dusting off the Lions 43-8 to continue their state title quest in the next round on Thanksgiving weekend.

Butler threw four touchdown passes, two of which went to freshman receiver Keontae Bumpers.

“Cam Butler played really well. He’s the leader of our football team and has been for the past three years,” Bulldogs coach Anthony Joffrion. “As soon as we got him back, everything fell into place and seemingly went right.

“Warhill did a good job of orchestrating the Wing-T and then they went to the spread offense.  I actually thought they did well, but didn’t finish a couple of drives and our defense stepped up.”

Ayden Lewis was on the receiving end of the most Butler completions, hauling in six passes for 70 yards. Sophomore tailback JaVon Ford also found the end zone twice, including on a 60-yard reception

The next task for King’s Fork comes at John B. Todd Stadium in Newport News against top-seeded Warwick (11-1) in the Region 4A championship.  Warwick beat Churchland 21-7 in regional semifinal and the Raiders are rather stingy defensively, limiting opponents to just 7.5 points per game on the season.

“We spent a lot of time watching film. It’s a super talented team,” Joffrion said. “Their quarterback is solid and leads their offense.  Delhomme, No. 1, is a very explosive player for them who lines up at running back, receiver and DB.  They’re well-coached.  I think it’s going to be a very good game.

“I think the biggest thing for both teams is who’s going to stop the run?  They’re a heavy run team and we are at times as well. Whoever does the best job I believe is the one that wins. You’ve got to be able to run the ball, especially in the playoffs.”