Falcons focused on avoiding letdown against Madison County

Central's Shane Watson finds a hole as Clarke County's Ben Sprouse waits to make a tackle during third quarter action Friday night. Rich Cooley/Daily

WOODSTOCK – Central High School’s football team cleared one of its biggest hurdles to a repeat as Bull Run District champions with a statement win over Clarke County last week. The Falcons can expect to get everyone’s best shot from here on out.

Central, now firmly established as the district’s team to beat, hosts Madison County in a 7:30 p.m. kickoff  tonight. The Falcons hope to avoid a letdown after dismantling Clarke County, 40-0, in impressive fashion.

“We just gotta keep putting in work, take it day by day,” Falcons senior fullback/linebacker Bryan Davis said Tuesday. “Madison’s next. They’re big ol’ country boys, so we’ve gotta bring it.

“We know everyone’s gonna be coming. They’re gonna come with 110 percent and we’ve just gotta match it or come with more.”

In Madison County (2-3, 0-0 Bull Run) the Falcons (6-0, 1-0) will face a team that is coming off back-to-back wins, including a 55-7 victory over Nelson County in the Mountaineers’ homecoming contest last week.

This week’s matchup will continue to have a Clarke County connection – former Eagle Chandler Rhoads is in his first season as Madison’s head coach – but the similarities likely stop there.

Rhoads reportedly had installed Clarke’s single-wing offense at Madison at the start of the season, but Central head coach Mike Yew said game film from the Mountaineers’ last two games shows Madison running a spread offense centered around dual-threat quarterback Elijah Lewis and running back Jamar Turner.

Madison, which scored 104 combined points in wins over Rappahannock County and Nelson County the last two weeks, is averaging 26.2 points per game.

“They’ve got a quarterback and a couple kids that are pretty talented, have some breakaway speed,” Yew said. “I don’t think their record indicates how good they actually are. They’ve got some dangerous kids, which they always do at Madison. They’ve got some athletes over there that can make plays and I think it’s no different this year. We must line up and play our responsibility and do our job like we preach to our kids every week. Just do your job and have faith in the man beside you.”

Central’s defense, which is limiting opponents to just 9.5 points per game, is coming off a performance against Clarke County in which the Falcons held the Eagles’ vaunted rushing attack to 163 yards, by far Clarke’s lowest output of the season.

Madison County’s defense is coming off its best effort of the season, as the Mountaineers held an opposing team below 27 points for the first time in 2017.

“They don’t mix it up a lot,” Yew said of Madison’s defense. “They play a lot of man-to-man with one safety over the top. We haven’t seen much man-to-man this year, so we’ll see if they do it this weekend or not.

“I always tell our kids, this is what they show they’ve done but you have no idea what they’re gonna do until you line up and play. So for us it’s a matter of going over there, lining up, getting a couple plays under our belt, seeing what they’re gonna do and then make our adjustments and move on from there.”

Central’s offense has been profoundly efficient – the Falcons have yet to score fewer than 40 points in a game this season – behind a power running game that revolves around junior Shane Watson (684 yards, eight touchdowns) and an explosive passing game led by junior quarterback Zeb Dyer (73.8 completion percentage, 747 passing yards, 15 touchdowns) and receivers Kyle Clanton (930 all-purpose yards, 17 total TDs) and Varsey Bright.

The Falcons added a wrinkle to their rushing attack against Clarke County, as Clanton and Bright both saw action lining up in the backfield. Clanton finished the game with 91 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 11 carries to complement Watson’s 96 yards rushing as Central piled up nearly 350 yards on the ground.

Watson said that after moving the ball so effectively against Clarke, he felt Central could do so against most defenses as long as the Falcons take care of their individual responsibilities.

“We’re just trying to keep everything the same as possible, play as not any less of a team than we are now. Just keep on moving,” Watson said.

“I feel like every team’s gonna want to beat us and we’re just gonna have to play harder. I think we’ve got what it takes.”