LEWISBURG (WVDN) – The Greenbrier East Spartans will hit the road for the first time this season when they travel to Robert C. Byrd this Friday, Sept. 9.
Last season, the Bald Eagles defeated East 31-16 in Fairlea behind 325 yards rushing from Jeremiah King, but King has moved on and graduated.
So, now it is all about quarterback Nick George.
George has led the Eagles to a 1-1 start early in the campaign. They lost to Keyser 35-21 two weeks ago but rebounded with a dominating 57-23 win over Oak Glen last Friday.
Against Oak Glen, the Eagles led just 27-23 late in the third quarter but scored 30 unanswered points the rest of the way to seal the victory. George threw for 317 yards, ran for 81 and had six total touchdowns. His passing total was the seventh highest in school history.
Bryce Byrd has been George’s favorite target so far. He has hauled in 13 passes for 252 yards and two scores in two weeks. The problem is, if a team focuses on stopping Byrd, then Brayden Thomason can do damage as well. Thomason caught six passes for 90 yards in week one, then followed that up with six catches for 103 yards in week two. He also has two touchdown catches.
Aside from George scrambling around, Latrell Jones is the biggest threat on the ground for RCB. He had 11 carries for 61 yards and a score in the Oak Glen victory. But, make no mistake about it, the Eagles are going to throw early and often.
RCB PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Quarterback-Nick George- 593 pass yards, nine total touchdowns
Receiver-Bryce Byrd- 13 receptions, 252 yards, two TDs
Receiver- Brayden Thomason- 12 catches, 193 yards, two TDs
Defense- Quinten Cooley and Ty Drake
The Spartans have struggled in their first two contests and have started 0-2 on the season.
However, in the second half of last week’s 49-21 loss to Beckley, East showed some offensive life in the second half. Monquelle Davis threw for 171 yards, Jake Pate and Lucas McCallister had 73 and 51 yards receiving, respectfully, and Ian Cline had 68 yards rushing and three scores.
Small steps, but necessary ones for a team looking to find some type of rhythm going forward.
Where East has been hurt the most is rushing defense. The Spartans have allowed just under 1,000 yards rushing in two games, and the coaching staff has been diligently working on how to clean that up.
The good news for East this week is RCB would rather throw the ball than run it. If the Spartans can contain George from getting loose on some QB scrambles, East can make them completely one-dimensional and rely on their secondary, their defensive strength, to make plays on that side of the ball.
Keys to the game and prediction:
Robert C. Byrd is coming into this contest following a big win. East is making their first road trip of the year after two losses at home to open the year. Playing on the road is never easy, especially against a team that has such high expectations this season like RCB. The Eagles are going to throw the ball a lot and feature George on basically every play. The Spartans need to focus on stopping him while containing his surrounding cast. Davis will be the player to watch for East. He is fast and elusive enough to make plays with his feet and those opportunities will be there on Friday, he just needs to take advantage. Will that happen? I am not sure it will happen enough. Valiant effort here, but the Spartans come up short.
Robert C. Byrd- 48
Greenbrier East- 30