Wildcats excited to face familiar foe

By Tommy Keeler Jr.

FRONT ROYAL — Warren County may have moved into a new district this season, but the Wildcats still have plenty of familiar opponents on this season’s schedule.

The Wildcats were already familiar with several of their Bull Run District opponents, and their non-district schedule also consists of teams that the Wildcats usually play. Warren County will play another of those long-time rivals tonight when it hosts James Wood tonight at 7:30 p.m.

“Area rivalries are fantastic,” Warren County coach Tony Tallent said. “I think all of our games so far have been schools that we have a history with. It’s really nice to be able to keep those alive and to let our fan bases kind of grow together.”

The Wildcats are coming off an impressive 37-14 win over Brentsville. Warren County was sharp on both sides of the ball.

On offense they had 454 yards of offense, led by 223 yards rushing from senior running back Demetrus Yates.

Warren County (1-1) had a little trouble early in the game, but once the Wildcats got rolling they kept it going.

“Once we got settled in and started playing the way that we should be playing, everything went well,” Yates said.

Josh Newman also had a solid game for the Wildcats, rushing for 112 yards on 15 carries.

The Wildcats showed they can pass the ball effectively as well. Warren County quarterback Austen Butler threw for 116 yards, with all but one reception going to wide receiver Jontae Rollins. For the season, Rollins has five catches for 160 yards, 32.0 yards per catch.

“Austen and Jontae’s days go back to Little League, and you can really see that they’ve got a good chemistry,” Tallent said. “I think both of them have taken on being seniors and their leadership roles the way that we expect seniors to do that.

“Jontae and Austen have been some go-to guys for us and have made some big plays.”

On the defensive side of the ball, Kristian Deal has led the way for the Wildcats. The senior linebacker has 12 tackles, all solo, to lead the Wildcats.

“Kristian Deal’s play on defense has been outstanding,” Tallent said. “He is one of those guys really leading by example right now.”

The Colonels (0-2) have had an up and down season so far. James Wood, with only 12 seniors, has a fairly young squad this season.

James Wood started off with a 43-29 loss to Heritage, after having a lead throughout most of the game. Last week the Colonels lost to Loudoun Valley 17-0.

“We’ve been hot and cold so far,” said James Wood coach Mark McHale, who coached Warren County in 1998 and 1999. “We ran the ball well in our first two scrimmages, and in our opener. Then last week against Loudoun Valley we didn’t run the ball very well.

“Our defense has been improving each week, and it’s really coming along.”

The Wildcats certainly won’t be taking the Colonels lightly.

“James Wood has always been a good team,” Yates said. “This week we just have to stay focused. On defense, we have to wrap up and make our tackles. Offensively, we have to penetrate the ball down the field and do what we need to do.”

The Wildcats lost their season opener to county-rival Skyline, 14-13, in a game that came right down to the wire.

It was a tough loss, but Tallent said he was very pleased with how his players handled it.

“After the Skyline loss the kids were really resilient, and knew that it was their execution that cost them,” Tallent said. “So they took that as kind of a chip on their shoulder against themselves. They looked in the mirror and saw their own worst enemies, and went about last week at trying to correct that. After the game they were harder on themselves.

“And to see these young men take the ownership of what the problems were, and to set out themselves to fix it, that gives you a good feeling as a coach.”

Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com Follow on Twitter @tkeelernvd