RURAL RETREAT -- One would think that the loss of an all-region tailback and fullback would slow a team's offense, but that wasn't the case in Fort Chiswell's season opening 41-25 victory over cross-county rival Rural Retreat.
Chris Rodriguez and Hody Viars, both all-region selections in 2009, are graduated, but Pioneers coach Stephen James showed that he had plenty more in the arsenal for 2010.
Leading the pack was senior running back Johnse Hatfield, who tallied two touchdowns and 175 rushing yards on just 14 carries. Will Freeman, Fort Chiswell's senior quarterback rushed for two touchdowns and threw for one more.
"For the most part, those seniors are stepping up and taking a leadership role," James said of the duo. "We took advantage of them with a couple early turnovers and that sort of put us on the right track."
James' Pioneer offense capitalized on two early Rural Retreat fumbles, taking a 13-0 first-quarter lead and never looking back. His ball carriers tallied 321 total rushing yards.
"It's not physical, it's all mental with fumbles and things like that," said Chris Moore, Rural Retreat's newly hired head coach. "We weren't ready mentally and we've got to fix that somehow."
Moore had been an assistant at Rural Retreat for six years under Quinton Hensley before stepping in as head coach last spring.
As for his Indians' defensive lapses, Moore takes the blame.
"We had a very bad night defensively," he said. "I'm to blame and I have to fix it."
A bright spot for Rural Retreat may have been the play of quarterback Zayne Williams, now in his third year as the starter. Williams completed nine of his 11 pass attempts, including a beautiful fade route to receiver Travis Foster for a second-quarter touchdown.
"He made some pretty good reads there too," Moore said of his signal caller.
James also found a spot for improvement in the season-opener.
"We started getting a little sloppy defensively [in the second half]," James said. "I'm proud of the kids' effort, we just have to to better as coaches."
The Pioneer coach assures us that he won't lose much sleep over it, though.
"A 'W' is a 'W'," he added. "I'll take 'em any day."
1 2 3 4 T FC 13 14 7 6 41 RR 0 7 6 12 25
Scoring summary FC - Hatfield 24 run (Gregory kick) FC - Freeman 1 run (kick failed) RR - Foster 8 pass from Williams (Foster kick) FC - Freeman 1 run (run failed) FC - Mabry 17 pass from Freeman (Hatfield run) FC - Jackson 20 run (Gregory kick) RR - Marshall 6 run (kick blocked) RR - Holman 1 run (kick failed) FC - Hatfield 49 run (Underwood kick) RR - Anderson 63 run (run failed)
Team stats FC RR First downs 19 16 Yards rushing 321 236 Passing C-A-I 5-17-0 9-11-0 Yards passing 110 98 Penalties-yards 5-40 9-70 Fumbles-lost 0-0 2-2 Punts-average 0-0 1-30