HOPEWELL, Va. (WWBT) - Winning is certainly important when it comes to Hopewell football, but losing a season in the fall certainly put things into perspective for the Blue Devils.
“It wasn’t about winning,” said head coach Ricky Irby. “It was about all of the life lessons you learn, the relationships you build, and just being able to be out here and be among your brothers and your family.”
“We sat out for a whole year,” added senior running back Eric McDaniels. “Just to be back on the field during a time like this, man, you can’t take this feeling away.”
Hopewell returns to play as defending Class 3 state champions and coming off of a 15-0 season. Of course, a big piece of that puzzle is no longer in the blue and yellow, as running back TreVeyon Henderson has made his way to Ohio State. After gaining more than three thousand all-purpose yards as a junior, Henderson enrolled early and will miss his senior season.
“Trey was an unbelievable football player for us, an unbelievable leader, but at Hopewell we talk about having a good program, not having a good team,” Irby noted.
Taking the reins at running back will be seniors Robert Briggs and McDaniels. The latter transferred to Hopewell from Henrico and the pair will headline a veteran team by giving the Blue Devils and thunder and lightning attack at that position.
“Two seniors that have a chip on their shoulder,” said Irby. “In 20 years I’ve been coaching, I’ve never gone through a recruiting period quite like this and we have some really good football players that have something to prove this year.”
It will be a football season unlike any other, but as for those life lessons to which Coach Irby was referring, there will be several of those in this situation as well.
“The adversity of COVID and the world today and being able to overcome that to be able to get out here on the football field and to put something on the field that our community can rally around and be happy about, that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Plenty of experience is back for the Blue Devils as they go for back-to-back state titles. Hopewell kicks off its season on February 26, hosting Colonial Heights.
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