Top area talent takes center stage in Game of the Week

Thomas Dale, Hopewell each bring top talent to annual clash

HOPEWELL, Va. (WWBT) - Last year, Hopewell and Thomas Dale needed triple overtime to decide a winner and on Friday we will see how they follow up that showing in our Game of the Week.

The Blue Devils and Knights are two of the area’s top teams and feature some top talent. Hopewell hits the field with junior TreVeyon Henderson, a running back and defensive back who has 22 college scholarship offers, which include some of the nation’s top programs. Henderson has 15 touchdowns in four games so far this season, including a 99 yard kickoff return. An off-season’s worth of work has helped him elevate his game even more.

“Just staying humble, not worrying about how many offers or stars I’ve got,” said Henderson. “I’m just playing my game, each and every game.”

“He’s a great leader, he works really really hard,” added Hopewell head coach Ricky Irby. “He’s put on about 15 pounds of muscle since last football season and has gotten faster.”

The opposition is well aware of Henderson’s skills as well.

“It’s three, four, five touchdowns a night,” Thomas Dale head coach Kevin Tucker observed. “You basically have to tell your kids ‘look, he’s going to score. It’s just you’ve got to contain him to keep him from scoring five times.’”

The Knights have one of the nation’s top recruits as well- senior and Notre Dame commit Chris Tyree. The question heading into this game is whether or not Tyree will be able to take the field. The running back and defensive back suffered a sprained ankle in Dale’s lone loss to Hermitage and continues to work his way back. His status as of game week is unclear.

“He’s had a great week of therapy, a great week of rehab. Last week he was starting to run again, this week he was starting to cut a little bit,”,” said Tucker of Tyree’s progress. “As I like to say, does this game in October matter more than the one in November? That’s what I’m going to go into Friday thinking, that if he can’t do what makes Chris special, we’re going to hold him out until he can do what makes Chris special.”

“If Tyree’s in there, that’s going to be a big bonus for them,” Irby added. “He’s a special player, but they’ve got a lot of guys over there who can step up and make plays in his absence.”

Irby is correct, as both teams boast plenty of talent beyond their headliners. Hopewell is 4-0, has put up at least 35 points in each of its games, and has not won by any less than three touchdowns so far this season. Robert Briggs forms a formidable threat with Henderson in the Blue Devils’ offensive and defensive backfields. As for Thomas Dale, the Knights come into this game with a 3-1 record. Jasiah Williams and DeAngelo Gray are among the players who have stepped up to fill Tyree’s shoes. Both squads also boast strength on the line.

“They’re a very good team,” noticed Henderson. “They’re aggressive. They’ve got a lot of skill players.”

The players in Dale’s locker room know that a challenge awaits them on Friday as well. Many remember 2018′s nail-biting victory over the Blue Devils, which took three overtimes to get done.

“Last year, we had multiple overtimes against them,” recalled Knights’ senior lineman T.J. Minter. “Good win. Hopefully we can keep it up and do the same thing this year.”

Both coaches consider this match-up one of, if not the toughest on their respective regular season schedules. For Hopewell, a win would mean a huge boost in the power points, thanks to Thomas Dale’s record and Class 6 status. As for the other sideline, a victory for the Knights would give them a confidence boost against a sure playoff team as they hit the second half of their schedule.

“This is what we explain the playoffs are going to be like,” said Tucker. “That would be monumental, as far as we’re concerned, by going out there and playing a good football game, hopefully a tough football game, to where we get the ball last and we come out on top.”

“With Thomas Dale being a division six school and with the record that they have and you know they’re going to finish with a very good record this year- for us to get a win over a team like that would really help us in the power points standings," Irby said.

Thomas Dale and the Blue Devils kick off at Merner Field in Hopewell on Friday night at 7:00.

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