By HARRISON HAMLET
(STUART, Va.) – Some things in sports are like clockwork. The New England Patriots are disciplined, Virginia Tech plays ‘Beamer-Ball’ on special teams, and it snows when the Buffalo Bills play at home in January.
Similarly, G.W.-Danville’s football team is known for its abundant athleticism, and Patrick County head coach David Morrison made no bones about the fact that 2019 was the same for the visiting Eagles on Friday night.
That athleticism allowed G.W.-Danville to jump out to a 20-0 lead after one quarter en route to a 54-14 win over Patrick County in Stuart.
“They didn’t do anything we didn’t expect them to do, they just out-played us,” Morrison said.
Since their arrival in the Piedmont District, G.W.-Danville has solidified themselves as a perennial championship contender. For Morrison and his Cougars, facing a team loaded with talent and discipline was a lesson in what could be.
“We have to do a lot of things properly to compete with a team like that. That’s what we want to look like,” Morrison said. “We have to get everybody buying into the program and the weight room… for us to compete with them we have to do a lot of things 100-percent right. Not just some things, a lot of things.
“We’ve got a core of guys who have bought into the weight room and the offseason work but it can’t just be the guys who are starting it has to be everybody on special teams or role players. When it gets to that point, that’s when you’ll see dramatic turnarounds and us being highly competitive with teams like G.W.”
Despite the lopsided score, Morrison was able to point to several positives after the loss.
The play of Dae’Shawn Penn continues to be a revelation for the Cougars, as the junior tailback accounted for both Patrick County touchdowns on Friday, one on a 67-yard reception and a five-yard rush.
But it isn’t just Penn that is impressing in the running game, according to Morrison. It is also the offensive line.
Josh Dalton, Jonathan Pell, Justin Pell, Jess Edwards, Jaheim Johnson and tight end Bryson Fulcher have been paving the way for a running game that has kept Patrick County competitive in losses and dominant in victories.
“These guys go unnoticed all the time but our offensive line did a solid job again on Friday night,” Morrison said. “They are making holes and creating holes and movement at the point of attack. We couldn’t get there fast enough or G.W. would fill the hole, but the offensive line play was there.”
Junior quarterback Will Sprowl, and later senior Jay Phillips, also impressed, with both leading second-half scoring drives, while Carson Merriman continued his stellar play on both sides of the ball.
Morrison said Phillips’ play was a theme on Friday, as a number of players exited the game due to injury, including Sprowl, and he was pleased with the players who stepped into a tough situation and played well.
The scoreboard ultimately outweighed the positives for Morrison and his players, who obviously felt disappointment at the loss.
“Obviously, anytime you take a loss you’re going to be upset,” Morrison said. “It is good to see in a way that the kids take it to heart. There was no whining or pouting, but we understand that they’re a standard we’re striving for and we aren’t there yet.”
The schedule doesn’t get any easier next week for Patrick County (3-4), as they will travel to Ridgeway to face a rested Magna Vista (5-1) team that is coming off a bye week.
“They’re fresh and we’re coming off a tough game,” Morrison said of Magna Vista. “They’re going to have to practice all week like we are and both teams have to lace them up on Friday night.”
Playing in Ridgeway has become a tough environment with Joe Favero at the helm of the Warriors program, with fans and students alike bringing a raucous feel to big games in ‘The Hole.’
“You would like to think that the Christiansburg game prepared us for that environment,” Morrison said. “Playing down at The Hole it is always going to be an exciting game and a great crowd. There will be wind and cool weather, Cougar weather as we call it. It is going to be great to get into that atmosphere.”
Like G.W.-Danville, Magna Vista has become a dominant force in the Piedmont District in recent years, leading to an “opportunity” two weeks in a row for Morrison and his Cougars.
“We look at it as a great opportunity. Anytime we play a great team it is a great opportunity to measure ourselves against good football teams. That’s what you want,” Morrison said. “You’re going to have to stick their head out there sometimes against teams that are more talented than you. You have to embrace it. You can’t run away from it. We get to play a really solid team and measure ourselves and evaluate who we are as a team right now.”
G.W.-Danville High School 54, Patrick County High School 14
GW-D – 20 14 20 0 – 54
PCHS – 0 0 6 8 – 14