JVs battle back in loss

Published 9:42 am Thursday, August 23, 2018

Davie JV football coach Blaine Nicholson and the rest of the staff had a daunting task: getting a team of 30 freshmen and only 12 sophomores ready for visiting Page in the Aug. 16 season opener.

The War Eagles fell short 19-14, but they made the Pirates work for it, overcoming a 13-0 halftime deficit and grabbing a 14-13 lead. Page has a 10-game winning streak against the local jayvees, but this was the closest margin during that span.

“They impressed me with their effort, resolve and character,” Nicholson said of his team. “With a heavy-freshman team, with a goose egg on the board at halftime, it would have been easy to lay down. But they showed mental toughness and battled back.”

Down 13-0, the War Eagles redeemed themselves in the third quarter. Freshman running back DeVonte Lyerly scored up the middle from the Page 2. With Avery Taylor snapping, MJ Holleman holding and Beaven Arey kicking, Davie got within 13-7.

“DeVonte made a couple of guys miss in the backfield,” Nicholson said.

A 20-yard pass play vaulted Davie in front 14-13, with freshman Alex Summers threading the needle to sophomore Hunter Rose, who ran a seam route.

“Hunter bent it to the outside,” he said. “The corner was underneath it and the safety was running to get over top of it. But Alex put enough air under it for Hunter to run under it. It was a really, really tight window and a contested catch. That was a pretty big deal.”

Page regained the lead in the fourth quarter on a 35-yard, cutback run. Nicholson lamented a flawed alignment.

“They had trips to one side and we had to adjust,” he said. “It was a poor adjustment by the secondary, the defensive line got too far up field, and we didn’t have a safety where he was supposed to be.”

The silver lining: Davie put a scare into Page and the freshman quarterback showed promise with 91 yards on 9-of-13 passing. Lyerly had 14 carries for 46 yards, but Davie only managed 140 total yards. Nicholson marveled at Summers’ toughness.

“From where Alex came in to where he is now is unbelievable,” he said. “He took an absolute monster blindside shot that I’m not sure many JV quarterbacks would get up from. But he showed great grit and toughness. He stuck in there for his guys. He could have gotten upset because somebody didn’t pick up the blitz, but he wasn’t focussed on that. He was focussed on what was best for the team. I think he’s going to be a really good ballplayer down the road because of his mentality.”

Freshman outside linebacker Sam Collins, freshman safety Trot Byerly, sophomore cornerbacks Josh Westmoreland and Arey, freshman linebacker Jadon Davis and sophomore outside linebacker Ivan Poag made big impacts on defense.

“Sam turned it on,” Nicholson said. “They were trying to attack the outside gap, and he made his mind up that he wasn’t going to have that. He started playing really well.

“Trot came up and made a couple of really big licks (as a fearless 125-pounder).

“Both of the corners (Westmoreland and Arey) played pretty well on the run game – they could have played better there – but Page only completed two passes on us.

“You need to keep your eye on Jadon. He figured out if he shoots the gap and uses his tenacity, he can make a lot of plays. It seemed like during the second half he was in on every single tackle. He’s a very athletic and very tough guy that doesn’t mind mixing it up. It was nice watching him on film (after the game).

“Ivan had a nose for the ball.”

Notes: Freshman Isaiah Lytton had five team-high receptions for 20 yards. Holleman had three for 51. … The only returning starter on the offensive line is Taylor (6-2, 200). … Nicholson is looking forward to the return of Tyler Snyder, a sophomore receiver who is injured. “He’s a big loss,” he said. “He’s going to be out the next 2-3 weeks.”