Speed was an overwhelming factor in the season opener for the Northern Neck Rivermen on Saturday. At King George High School, the Rivermen shut out the first year Tri-Counties Crusaders in a decisive 50-0 win to take an early lead in the Mason Dixon Football League.
Wide receiver Jermaine Weldon (Washington & Lee High) and quarterback Walt Covington (Caroline High) led the way on offense connecting for three touchdown receptions for 89 total yards.
Defensive back Tony Russell (Chancellor High) contributed to the cause intercepting two passes for the Rivermen.
Rappahannock graduates Devonte Reynolds and RJ Jones are but a handful of players from the Northern Neck joined alongside those from around the area.
Owner and head coach Dennis Cornwell said he was really impressed with the up tempo speed by his team.
“You can’t coach speed and don’t have an answer for it. We were sending more than they could block and made a lot of plays,” Cornwell said.
Rivermen running back Adeola Ogunwenmo (Chancellor High) scored the first touchdown for the home team on a one-yard run late in the first quarter. Then at the start of the second quarter, Russell scored on his first of two interceptions of the game returning it for 32 yards.
With a 12-0 lead early in the second quarter, Covington connected with Weldon on their first of three touchdowns on the night. Weldon recorded a 43-yard touchdown to help the Rivermen take an 18-0 lead.
The Crusaders would go on to struggle in the second quarter running and passing the football against the Rivermen defense led by top recruit and free safety Devonte Reynolds, who graduated from Rappahannock High School and Norfolk State University.
The graduate from Rappahannock High School provided some epic hits in the game. Several high school graduates from the Northern Neck including Rappahannock graduates Divine Veney, linebacker RJ Jones, kicker Tucker Yeatman, and offensive linemen RJ Smith and Tyrel Hudgins join Reynolds this season.
Weldon, a graduate of Washington & Lee, also joins the team along with fourth year center Mike Beall from Colonial Beach.
Before the quarter could end, Russell caught his second interception to keep the Rivermen lead, 18-0, at the end of the first half.
The Crusaders challenged the Rivermen defense in the third quarter, but their defense couldn’t stop the onslaught from the home team. Within a two-minute frame, Covington connected with Weldon for their second touchdown of the night on a 29-yard pass.
In the next play for the Crusaders an effort to punt the ball bounced awkwardly and was recovered in the endzone by linebacker Derrick Manning (St. Augustine College) for a touchdown. The two-point conversion was no good extending the Rivermen’s lead over the Crusaders, 30-0.
Return specialist Mike Howard gave the Rivermen offense good fielding position after a 43-yard return from a punt. The next play was capped off by Weldon’s final touchdown of the night covering 17-yards. The extra point was booted in by Barrett Hollingsworth to give the Rivermen a 37-0 lead at the end of the third.
In the next two scores, Covington connected with wide receiver Marcus Robinson (H.D. Woodson) for a 16-yard touchdown reception and Howard returned a punt from 44 yards out. Hollingsworth was 1-2 for extra point attempts to give the Rivermen a 50-0 win.
On defense, linebacker Laslow Pickett recovered a fumble.
Coach John Davis, of the Crusaders, was bringing out his guys for their first semi-pro game. He hopes to have his guys ready to play the next time.
“This doesn’t mean anything. We’ll come back from this,” Davis said. “They’re a good team [the Rivermen] and have a lot of talent. My hat’s off to those guys and look forward to them coming down to the country.”
The Rivermen will travel to George Mason High School to face the Virginia Steelers in Falls Church on July 20 at 7 p.m.
Three straight home games will follow for the Rivermen as they host the Virginia Titans on Aug. 3, Arbutus Big Red on Aug. 10 and Virginia Hornets on Aug. 17. All games begin at 7 p.m.
The Rivermen will travel to Richmond for their second meeting against the Titans on Sept. 7 (7 p.m.) following a bye week. Then on Sept. 7, the Rivermen will play their final home game of the regular season on at 7 p.m.
Two road games await the Rivermen traveling to Arbutus on Sept. 14 and to the Virginia Silverbacks in Charlottesville on Sept. 21. Game times are still TBA.