November 30, 2022

Nansemond River, King’s Fork advance to regional playoffs

Published at 16:21, Tuesday, November 22, 2022

By Matthew Hatfield

Contributing writer

For the second year in a row, Nansemond River used some late-game heroics to advance to the Region 5B playoffs against Kecoughtan in a battle between schools that share the Warriors nickname.

Trailing 14-7 in the fourth quarter, Nansemond River scored the final two touchdowns of the game in a span of less than six minutes to take a 21-14 lead and improve to 8-3 overall. With the win, they earned a spot in the Region 5B championship.

“We’ve said that all year and that these guys are resilient. They answered and answered the call in a win-or-go-home with that mindset. We have some guys that can play in those moments and it showed,” Nansemond River head coach Alonzo Ricks Jr. said.

Kecoughtan scored on its opening possession with a rushing touchdown. Nansemond River responded with a score.

The Warriors – from Suffolk – turned the football over deep in Kecoughtan territory. Kecoughtan capitalized and took a 14-7 halftime lead with a touchdown on a slant pass. From there, the defensive unit and special teams took over.

“Our defense did an outstanding job and our punter Noah McClee changed field position for us like he has all season. Then we started going into the fourth trimester to give me gray hair and high blood pressure,” Ricks joked. “I’m grateful that we can keep moving forward.”

Kicker Dallas Slaughter made all three extra points. Immanuel Ezeogu and Marquez Warren each had 10 total tackles. Ezeogu had three stops behind the line of scrimmage, a forced fumble and a pass breakup. Mike Thomas added seven tackles and Nick Grier made five tackles. Lataveon Brandon came up with the game’s final interception.

Offensively, the Warriors were led by dual-threat junior QB Alkendric Overton, who completed six of 11 passes for 72 yards and a touchdown to Nasir Holland. Overton added 37 yards rushing and a pair of scores. Melvin Brown ran 16 times for 68 yards and Terrell “Philly” Douglas was their leading receiver with four catches for 48 yards.

Next up for Nansemond River is a trip to Powhatan Field in Norfolk to face Maury (8-1), which blanked Menchville 37-0 in the regional semifinal, as the Commodores seek a fifth straight regional crown.

“We are excited. These are things we talk about on a daily basis,” Ricks said. “To be able to have this opportunity is not something we take for granted given the number of quality teams that have already gone home so far this season. As for Maury, they are who they are. This is the fifth or sixth year in a row going to the regional finals and it’s a program used to that, going to state. We aspire to do that”

“We want to be fundamentally sound as well as win third and fourth down conversions both offensively and defensively. It will come down to executing any name and turning it into a chess match. If we can do those things, then maybe we’ll have a chance on Friday night.”

King’s Fork will face Warwick for the Region 4A title

The King’s Fork Bulldogs were extremely happy to see Cameron Butler back in the lineup.

With the senior signal-caller returning to the field for the first time since suffering a concussion in the regular-season finale loss to Nansemond River in overtime, King’s Fork advanced to its Region 4A semifinal against Warhill, the third seed, dusting the Lions 43-8. to continue their quest for the state title in the next round on Thanksgiving weekend.

Butler threw four touchdown passes, two of which went to freshman Keontae Bumpers.

“Cam Butler played really well. He is the leader of our football team and has been for the last three years,” Bulldogs coach Anthony Joffrion. “As soon as I got it back, everything fell into place and apparently went well.

“Warhill did a good job of orchestrating the Wing-T and then they went to the spread offense. I actually thought they did well, but they didn’t finish a few runs and our defense stepped up.”

Ayden Lewis was on the receiving end of Butler’s most completions, hauling in six passes for 70 yards. Sophomore JaVon Ford found the end zone twice, including a 60-yard reception.

King’s Fork’s next assignment comes at John B. Todd Stadium in Newport News against Warwick (11-1) in the Region 4A championship. Warwick beat Churchland 21-7 in the regional semifinal, and the Raiders are pretty stingy defensively, limiting opponents to just 7.5 points per game on the season.

“I spent a lot of time watching movies. It’s a super talented team,” Joffrion said. “Their tight end is solid and drives the offense. Delhomme, #1, is a very explosive player for them, lining up at running back, receiver and DB. They are well trained. I think it will be a very good game.

“I think the biggest thing for both teams is who’s going to stop the run? They are a tough team and we are sometimes. Whoever does the best job, I think, is the one who wins. You have to be able to drive the ball, especially in the playoffs.”

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