* By: Tanner Davis, Knightly News Sports Editor *
On Friday, Nov. 18, the Thomas Dale Knights football team made the long bus ride trip to Colonial Forge in hopes of advancing to the next round of playoffs. Unfortunately, we were not able to pull out a win over the Eagles, but the Knights are already looking forward to next season.
Odds appeared to be in our favor by the beginning of the second quarter. The Knights were able to score two back to back touchdowns that provided a 14-point lead. First, a 25 yard touchdown pass to junior Gynai James, then a fumble, recovered by junior Emilio Johnson, was returned for another touchdown that boosted the momentum for Thomas Dale.
The momentum began to shift, however, toward the end of the second quarter. The Eagles put up 14 points of their own going into the half. The second half belonged to the Eagles almost entirely, despite a touchdown pass to Elijah Smith, senior, late in the fourth quarter. As the final buzzer from the scoreboard rang through the stadium, the Eagles led the Knights 42-21.
Although the Knights did not advance as far as they hoped in postseason play, their season record of 11-4 shows that they were one of the strongest teams in the area. They displayed strength and were able to adapt to many injuries over the course of the season. Senior Gabriel McCollin is a prime example of a player that had to adapt in order to best help the team succeed. A multi-purpose player for the knights, McCollin found himself playing the running back position while injuries negatively impacted their depth chart. The senior powered his way down the field many times for our offense, filling the void for a starting running back.
The Knights suffered a tough loss to end the season, but dwelling on the past is definitely not their main focus. With 18 players receiving 1st, 2nd or honorable mention all conference team honors, our varsity football team looks to learn and improve in order to prepare for next season.
Young contributing starters, such as Chris Tyree, Devonte Chandler and Dusan Stjepanovic, show that Thomas Dale football as a bright future. Tyree, a freshman, has recently picked up his 3rd NCAA Division 1 offer from Duke University. Head coach Kevin Tucker and the rest of the coaching staff have high hopes for the remainder of Tyree’s’ high school career. Juniors Stjepanovic and Chandler make it clear that they will be a force next season according to Dusan’s tweet, “Not the last time you hear about these two. I’ll leave at that for now.”