The John Battle Trojans look to crack the win column for the first time in 2018 as they travel to Damascus to take on the 2-0 Holston Cavaliers Friday.
The Trojans are continuing their tour of Washington County. John Battle will play its third county rivalry game in as many weeks after dropping its first two games of the season to Abingdon and Virginia High.
In a recent interview with John Battle Radio Network host Tim Burnette, Trojans head coach Britt Stone was asked about the improvement of his team this season.
“Our goal is to win and we didn’t meet that goal. That was disappointing, but when we turn on the film we see a lot of things we can definitely get better at,” said Stone. “Some of those things will be helped by getting some veteran players back. There were some guys that got some experience last Friday night that did an admirable job in the position they were put in.”
“Based upon the guys we had available, where they were and where they’re at now, I was very impressed. More impressed by our attitude and our unity. Staying focused, staying together and fighting. We believed. You could see it in the guys eyes, they knew we could compete with Virginia High,” said Stone. “Our coaching staff believed we could compete with Virginia High. I think that’s one of the positive things I will take away from that game. The goal is to win, and we didn’t win. That means we have some things to do.”
One thing that was evident was the Trojans run game, led by Juddy Shaffer, who finished the game with 108 yards on 25 carries. Dylan Cunningham, who Coach Stone praised for his unselfishness, had 45 yards on 12 carries and the game’s first touchdown.
“I thought we did a good job up front with our tight ends, offensive line and wing backs. It was good to see, especially against a stout defense like Virginia High has,” said Stone. “I was very pleased with our success in the run game. Hopefully we can continue to improve in that area and bring along our passing game as well.”
Coach Derrick Patterson’s team will be 2-0 for the second consecutive season when facing the Trojans. The Cavs come in on a hot streak after coming back from Shawsville in week one with a 25-8 victory over East Montgomery. Holston followed that up in week two by blanking the Twin Spings Titans last week 44-0 in Damascus.
The Trojans handed their cross county rivals their first loss of 2017 in a dominant fashion, winning 57-0 on Battle Hill. However, Coach Stone sees the improvement from the Cavaliers and isn’t taking them lightly.
“The thing about them that really presents a challenge for us is just their experience overall,” Stone said. “Most of the same faces we seen last year are back and improved. I think Coach Patterson has done a really good job with the program there.”
Leading the Cavs will be their signal-caller, Leo Ezzell. The Holston quarterback dazzled against Twin Springs, leading the victors by completing all six of his passes for 106 yards and a touchdown. The senior speedster also rushed for two scores and accounted for three 2-point conversions.
Coach Stone knows his defense will be looking across the line at a very talented player.
“He’s done some good things with his arm as well as his legs. He’s a physical runner, a tough kid to get down,” said the John Battle head coach. “But (what stands out is) just his leadership. It’s evident on the film that he’s really running their offense and owning it at a high level.”
Ezzell drives the bus, but Cavaliers are far from a one man show. Five different Cavs scored a touchdown against Twin Springs. Austin Farris added 88 yards rushing on 6 carries and Ethan Guerrero hauled in 4 passes for 68 yards. Guerrero, a talented receiver, has also proved to be one of the area’s top defensive backs. He has recorded an astonishing four interceptions in the first two weeks.
Coach Stone said his team was “hungry” for a win, but he was singing nothing but high praises for the Cavaliers’ team.
“Overall, I feel like this is probably Coach Patterson’s best all around team,” Stone said. “They really look like a strong opponent. I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to play them.”
“Our guys have to be really focused at the beginning and we have to get out to a fast start, because if we don’t this team (Holston) has shown they’re very capable of winning football games,” Stone said. “If they stay healthy they should have a very strong season.”
** Special thanks to Tim Burnette of John Battle Sports Network for contributing the information for this article & to James Sword for pictures of the John Battle players.
You can listen to Tim’s interview with Coach Stone, as well as every John Battle game HERE!
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