The Eastern View football team has made a living out of dominating opponents with its spread option rushing attack for the better part of a decade.
However, the Cyclones are breaking in new starters at quarterback and running back this season after losing prolific runners Matt Lowry and Tre’ Holmes to graduation, leaving their ability to be as dominant on the ground as past Eastern View squads in question.
The new faces in the Cyclones’ backfield picked right up where their predecessors left off in Thursday night’s season opener with crosstown rival Culpeper, amassing over 200 yards rushing in a 28-0 victory.
Eastern View is now 12-0 in the all-time series with Culpeper.
“We got off to a little bit of a slow start,” Eastern View head coach Greg Hatfield said. “But once we got going, I thought our running game really clicked.”
The Cyclones’ running game clicked in large part because of the performances of quarterback Till Butler and running back Raq Lawson, who formed a two-pronged attack that rivaled the one Lowry and Holmes provided over the past two years.
Butler, a senior, accounted for three touchdowns on the night. His scoring pass to classmate Alex Spangler with 27 seconds left in the first quarter covered 60 yards and gave Eastern View a 7-0 lead. He added a 1-yard plunge with 1:56 remaining in the first half to up the advantage to 14-0, then scampered off left tackle for a 7-yard score to cap the opening drive of the second half and make it 21-0.
Lawson, meanwhile, churned his way to 152 yards on 24 carries, finding the endzone from a yard out to cap the scoring with a minute left in the third quarter.
“Both of those guys played really well for us,” Hatfield said. “When it came right down to it, they did what we ask them to do within the scope of our offense.”
Eastern View did struggle with penalties, however. The Cyclones were whistled 14 times for 125 yards in the game, with 80 of those yards coming in the first half.
“The penalties absolutely contributed to our slow start,” Hatfield remarked. “That wasn’t Cyclone football. We’d make a big play and then set ourselves back on the next one with a mistake. It’s undisciplined stuff that we’ve got to clean up going forward.”
Culpeper managed just 143 yards of total offense. The Blue Devils picked up four of their seven first downs in the game during the ensuing drive after Lawson’s touchdown, but the 60-yard march ended when senior Dejour McCray was stopped at the 1-yard line on fourth and goal.
Junior Riley Harrison finished with a team-high 59 yards on the ground for Culpeper.
Despite the setback, acting Culpeper head coach Brandon Utz was pleased with the effort his team showed, particularly on defense.
“The goal was absolutely to win the game, so we’re obviously disappointed at the outcome,” he said. “But [Eastern View] has one of the best offenses in the state every year, so to hang tough with them the way we did, that’s something to build on. We just have to find our identity on offense.”
EV—Alex Spangler 60-yard pass from Till Butler (Garrett Hutchinson kick).
EV—Till Butler 1-yard run (Garrett Hutchinson kick).
EV—Till Butler 7-yard run (Garrett Hutchinson kick).
EV—Raq Lawson 1-yard run (Garrett Hutchinson kick).
RUSHING: Eastern View—Raq Lawson 24-152, TD; Till Butler 17-58, 2 TDs; Ronta Robinson 3-3; Team 1-1. Culpeper—Riley Harrison 15-59; Dejour McCray 5-25; Josh Plaster 5-10; Austin Lentz 3-13; Stewart Jones 2-2; Jacob Douglass 1-6; Team 3-(-26).
PASSING: Eastern View—Till Butler 4-9-0, 77 yards, TD. Culpeper—Josh Plaster 5-11-0, 54 yards.
RECEIVING: Eastern View—Alex Spangler 2-70, TD; Chance Graves 2-7. Culpeper—Armani Hoffman 3-49; Cam Lacy 1-5; Dejour McCray 1-0.