By LARRY HYPES
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
TAZEWELL, Va. —
It’s been almost two years since the Bulldogs won a football game and it happened in Marion.
New coach Shane Allen, two coaches removed from that last victory, would like nothing better than to get his first win and since tonight is the next game, then he hopes to claim a win against the Scarlet Hurricane.
“We want to win, against anybody no matter where it happens to be,” notes Allen, whose Tazewell team (0-6) visits Marion (3-4) in a Southwest District showdown.
Marion, in fact, is also trying to turn things around in the midst of a three-game skid following an impressive start.
The Scarlet Hurricane, coached by Joey Carroll, opened with a 34-26 win over Rural Retreat, then lost 24-21 to Fort Chiswell, before rebounding to whip Northwood 41-16 and Chilhowie 35-18. Richlands stopped the Hurricane 24-14, George Wythe edged Marion 17-14 and Graham rallied for a 21-20 win over the ‘Canes.
“Marion has had some tough luck lately, too,” Allen says. “They played Richlands tough, especially in the first half, they came back late to close to within a field goal of an excellent George Wythe team, then led Graham for almost the entire game before losing at the very end in a heartbreaker.”
Allen is impressed with several Marion players and says veteran Ethan Richardson is “as good an all around back as we have faced all year, and that is saying something because we have played some good ones up to now.”
Allen adds, “Richardson may not be the biggest or the fastest, but he is a heck of a football player. Trey Crook, the Marion quarterback, is not only a passer who can throw enough to beat you but he is an effective runner, too.
“Hunter Hayden is another good back. Marion does a lot of things well both ways. They are a good football team.”
Allen says that Marion works its offense to get backs like Richardson to the perimeter with solid lead blocking to break through the opposing defense.
Tazewell has almost re-written the heartbreaking manual. With a winless streak standing at 17 games, the Bulldogs made a run at Graham in the first half before losing 34-15, outgained Lebanon in nearly every category and then lost a lead after the fourth quarter and fell 17-14 in triple overtime to the Pioneers, gained nearly 400 yards passing at Giles but were beaten by the Spartans, and so on and so forth.
Now, a week after falling 35-0 to Virginia High, Tazewell is calling on some new faces to step in after an injury-filled outing against the Bearcats.
Standout runner Malik Davis is lost to ligament damage, quarterback Cody McCann is hurting with a concussion, linebacker Colby Scarberry is out with a separated shoulder, and several other Tazewell players are dinged-up but playing.
“We have some injuries to deal with, but there are no excuses,” says Allen. “We expect to make the plays. Senior, sophomore, junior, freshman — it doesn’t matter. All our players are coached by the same coaches.
“We know that some people have different talents but for those men who take the field tonight, we have tailored our game plan to accommodate their individual skills, too. We play as a team every game, all the time.”
Runner Jacob McReynolds, also the team’s kicker, had a solid game last week and is expected to be a key tonight for the Bulldogs. Receivers Jalen Jordan and Jesse Mountain will also be a big part of the game plan.
Defenders like Mikey Wright, Guye Turner and others will be tested.
Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.