Eastern View head football coach Greg Hatfield never takes an opponent lightly, but he’s hoping his team’s 18-14 upset loss at the hands of Spotsylvania two weeks ago serves as a reminder for them to be prepared for any opponent at any time.
When the Region 4B playoffs kick off on Friday night, the Cyclones’ next opponent will be Huguenot—a team that needed a 20-14 victory over a sub-.500 Powhatan squad in the final week of the regular season just to finish 6-4 and make the postseason.
However, the caveat to the Falcons’ 6-4 mark is that all of their setbacks came at the hands of playoff teams—Cosby, Monacan, Clover Hill and defending Class 6 state champion Manchester. The latter three boast a combined record of 25-5.
“When you watch [Huguenot] on tape, they look nothing like a team that needed to win their last game just to make the playoffs,” Hatfield said. “They’re huge up front and loaded at the skill positions.”
The Falcons are led by wide receiver Kevin Gayles, who’s drawn Division I attention from the likes of Tennessee and Old Dominion. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound senior has 27 receptions for 557 yards and seven touchdowns this fall.
“He’s very good,” Hatfield said of Gayles. “I think everyone knows just how good he is, but they’ve got three or four other guys who can score for them as well.”
Due to his reputation, Gayles draws a lot of double teams from opposing defenses. Because of that, classmate Manquelle Ross leads Huguenot with 43 catches for 693 yards and seven scores.
Senior quarterback Darnell Mason runs Huguenot’s offense. He’s completed 78 of 147 passes for 1,308 yards with 19 touchdowns and eight interceptions.
The Falcons aren’t a one-dimensional team, however. Another senior, Hosea Colfield, has amassed 768 yards and five scores on the ground while averaging 8.3 yards per carry.
On top of all of that, Huguenot boasts an offensive line that averages nearly 6-foot-3 and 300 pounds per man, led by 6-foot-3, 330-pound senior Derrick Starks.
Hatfield said the Cyclones (9-1) will have to make the Falcons work hard on both sides of the ball if they’re going to advance to the second round of the postseason for the seventh consecutive year.
“We have to make them earn their points,” he said. “Nothing can come easy, because they’re like sharks in the water when they get a couple scores and smell blood.”
Eastern View defensive backs Alex Spangler, Josh Logan and Blake Leake have combined to haul in 10 interceptions, which may bode well for the Cyclones against Huguenot’s air attack.
Offensively, Eastern View senior quarterback Till Butler is 63-of-106 for 1,360 yards with 25 touchdowns and just one interception. Spangler has been his favorite target this season, catching 18 passes for 568 yards and a Fredericksburg-area best 10 scores.
Running back Raq Lawson leads the Cyclones with 691 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. He racked up 117 yards and a career-high three scores in last week’s 47-6 victory over Chancellor.
The winner of Friday’s game will face either Monacan (8-2) or Dinwiddie (5-5) in next week’s region semifinals, with location and date yet to be determined.
Eastern View Statistical Leaders
Passing: Till Butler 63-106-1 (59.4%), 1,360 yds, 25 TDs
Rushing: Raq Lawson 101-691 (6.8 avg), 9 TDs; Ronta Robinson 50-411 (8.2), 6 TDs
Receiving: Alex Spangler 18-568 (31.6), 10 TDs; Chance Graves 15-319 (21.3), 5 TDs; Blake Leake 20-342 (17.1), 8 TDs
Interceptions: Alex Spangler 4; Josh Logan 3; Blake Leake 3; Drew Shurina 2; Dylan White, Chance Graves, Marshall Addo all with 1 each
Kicking: Garrett Hutchinson 57-62 XP, 2-3 FG (long 38)