WOODSTOCK — Central will look to get back on the winning track tonight when it plays at Staunton in a non-district football contest. But beating the Storm will not be an easy task.
The Storm are coming off a 28-27 overtime victory over previously undefeated Turner Ashby and are led by dual-threat quarterback William Dod.
“It seems like they want the ball in the quarterback’s hands,” Central coach Mike Yew said before Tuesday’s practice. “He runs the ball quite a bit and obviously when he’s throwing he’s got the ball in his hands. As it should, the offense runs through him and then he makes the decisions whether to run or pass.”
The Falcons are coming off a tough 20-10 loss to Shenandoah County rival Strasburg last week.
Dod has rushed for 260 yards on 41 carries and three touchdowns. He is also 16-for-39 passing for 264 yards and three touchdowns. Junior running back Dasani Alston has 186 yards rushing on 40 carries. Junior wide receiver Rik’Avian Carey has five catches for 75 yards and one score and sophomore wide receiver Jaquante Scott has five catches for 51 yards.
Yew said on top having to worry about Dod, his defense will have to understand what formation the Storm are in. He said the Storm like to switch formations throughout the game.
“They formation you to death, probably to try to get your kids confused,” Yew said. “So we’ll have to spend some time this week preparing for that part of it. ...The kids have got to be disciplined. They’ve got to know what (Dod) is doing, know what they’re doing by motion and what they’re doing by formation. And just stay at home and play their technique and do their job.”
The Falcons’ defense has been the strength of the team all season. The Falcons are allowing just 13.3 points per contest. Senior linebacker Gerson Sorto Lopez and sophomore linebacker Isaiah Dyer each have an area-best 37 tackles. Sorto Lopez also has a team-best three sacks.
Yew said the thing he is most proud of from his team this season has been how hard they’ve played.
“We’re still playing as hard as I can remember us playing in a long time,” Yew said. “And that’s not to take anything away from the teams we’ve had in the past. But when we got out — all four games — we leave it all on the field. Our kids that play a lot are exhausted — as they should be. But our kids are really, really, really playing hard.”
The Falcons have been a little up and down on offense. Central is averaging 29.8 points per game, but in its two losses only managed a combined 23 points.
Yew said that senior quarterback Kelan Hoover didn’t have his best game in the loss to Strasburg. Yew said that Hoover missed some reads and was a little off his game against the Rams, but he still has complete confidence in him against Staunton.
“I’m not sure if it was the rivalry, his first Strasburg start got to him a little bit you never know,” Yew said of Hoover. “But I fully expect him to be back on his game this week. And we’re going to line up and do our thing and we’ll take what they give us. And if we need to throw the ball we’re going to throw it.”
Yew said the Storm have a solid defense and will be a challenge for the offense.
“They’ve got some good size,” Yew said of Staunton’s defense. “Their linebackers are short and stocky guys that just plug the hole and do their job. In the secondary they’ve got some athletes, some kids that can run, some kids that can move.”
One real bright spot for the Falcons this season has been the play of junior kicker Alex Lopez. Lopez is 9-for-9 on extra points and 3-for-3 on field goals, with his longest being from 34 yards. Yew said Lopez has also been strong with his kickoffs this season.
“Alex has done a tremendous job,” Yew said. “I honestly think that of all the kicks he’s had — field goals, extra points and kickoffs — he’s had one kick that really was not very good. And when you take into account he’s had nine extra points, he’s 3-3 on field goals and we’ve kicked off probably 15 times that’s a pretty good job when you’ve only had one mistake. And he’s really done a good job putting (kickoffs) down in the corner and our coverage team has done a good job supporting him. On his field goals he’s just done his job. Right before he kicks it every time I’m screaming ‘head down, step down.’ Head down for him and step down is for the linemen. They’ve done a good job protecting him and he’s done a good job putting it where it belongs.”