Harrison 2

Culpeper County’s Riley Harrison, center, drags a Handley defender during Friday’s game. Harrison scored the Blue Devils’ only touchdown on a 58-yard run.

Things haven’t gone quite as planned for the Culpeper County football team so far this season.

First, head coach James Ford was diagnosed with leukemia just before the team’s season opener with crosstown rival Eastern View in late August.

The Blue Devils subsequently lost to the Cyclones, dropping their record against their county foes to 0-13.

Following a promising 30-6 victory over Monticello on September 6, things appeared to be looking up for Culpeper. However, the Blue Devils have lost three games in a row since then, being outscored 110-27 by Spotsylvania, Liberty and Handley.

In last week’s 42-7 homecoming setback to Handley, Culpeper (1-4 overall, 0-2 Class 4 Northwestern District) turned the ball over six times. Junior quarterback JoJo Crenshaw, making his second career start, was intercepted five times by the Judges’ defense.

The Blue Devils are hoping to put their struggles in the rearview mirror when they travel to Winchester tonight to play James Wood (4-1, 1-1). Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

“I know we can compete with these teams,” said Brandon Utz, who is Culpeper’s acting head coach while Ford is recovering from his leukemia treatment. “We just have to stop shooting ourselves in the foot and give our playmakers better opportunities to help us out.”

The Blue Devils’ most consistent playmaker this year has been junior Riley Harrison, who has rushed for more than 100 yards in each of the team’s past two games. He scored Culpeper’s only touchdown against Handley on a 58-yard run.

Harrison is also a leader at middle linebacker on the Blue Devils’ defense, where he has 31 tackles.

“He’s a heck of a football player, isn’t he?” Utz said of Harrison. “You don’t say this kind’ve thing often, but I believe he will play major college football. He’s just a tremendous player and teammate.”

Harrison and the Culpeper defense will have their hands full against James Wood, which has won four games in a row since losing to Sherando in its season opener.

The Colonels are equally capable of putting up points through the air and on the ground. In last week’s 42-32 win at Independence, Sam Adkins ran for 203 yards and four touchdowns. While quarterback Carson Hoberg was just 9 of 21 for 97 yards against Independence, he passed for a combined 532 yards and seven scores in victories over Warren County and Kettle Run in the two weeks prior.

Offensively, Utz said the Blue Devils are more focused on their execution than anything else at this point. Crenshaw, who completed 13 of 27 passes for 149 yards two weeks ago at Liberty, will likely be a big key to that.{p class=”gmail-paragraph”}“We didn’t do ourselves any favors by turning the ball over like we did [against Handley],” Utz said. “We’ve got to do much better if we want to win some football games.”

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