Louisa downs Spotsy in opener
Lions running back Markel Groomes left a trail of Spotsylvania defenders on his way to rushing for 170 yards.
At halftime of Louisa’s season opener against the Spotsylvania Knights on Friday Aug. 31, head coach Jon Meeks was facing a dilemma he was hoping to avoid. His team was tied at 14 and deprived of momentum.
A one-yard touchdown run on fourth and goal by Knights fullback Charlie Petitt with just 36 seconds left in the half had brought the Spotsylvania crowd alive, and the Knights were to receive the second half kickoff.
Heading into the visitor’s locker room at Spotsylvania County High School, Meeks saw only one solution.
“The only way we can get back momentum is to stop them on the opening drive and then score,” Meeks said.
His team went above and beyond.
The Lions defense stifled Spotsylvania, allowing just 13 yards and no first downs on the Knights’ five possessions of the second half. Offensively, senior running back Markel Groomes battered his way to two second half touchdowns to compliment his first quarter score.
Two quarters later, the final whistle signaled a 35-14 win for the Lions.
“At halftime, we went over responsibilities like we had been doing all week,” Meeks said.
“I don’t know, they came out the second half like we expected them to in the first. In the second half, they looked like they were ready to play.”
Meeks said that Louisa’s second half revival was the result of a few minor tweaks. In the first half, the team’s youthful offensive line struggled to handle Spotsylvania’s defensive front, anchored by 6’6, 350-pound behemoth tackle Thomas Williamson. After halftime, senior center Thomas Dunnavant went to work at the helm of a young unit.
“Four of those five have never taken a snap at a Friday night football game at offensive line,” Meeks said. “I thought [Dunnavant] did a great job leading them.”
Defensively, Meeks, who admitted he is a tad rusty after returning to run the defense again after a two year hiatus, attributed the team’s lockdown performance to one alteration: simplification.
“I think I had them doing a little too much,” Meeks said. “I’ve always been a fan of the Mark Fischer way, keep it simple stupid. I don’t know if I did that the first half. Second half, I tried to make it easy.”
Meeks said that checks and audibles that were made early on were a result of being anxious. After halftime, Meeks emphasized sticking with the original play call.
To read the entire story, see the Sept. 5 edition of The Central Virginian.