Javon Purvis calls them statement games, contests where he excitedly accepts the challenge from his coach and Stonewall Jackson teammates to step up when the Raiders are a man down. The first such game came last year, when then-senior running back C.J. Burnes went down early in the third game with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. Buoyed by his previous experience sharing load with Burnes, Purvis exploded for 146 rushing yards and two touchdowns in that contest.
Now, with standout quarterback Greg Stroman a game-time decision for Thursday’s contest at No. 18 Forest Park after straining a tendon in his hip during last week’s loss to No. 11 Hylton, Purvis, a senior starter, again is ready to shoulder the load.
“I feel like it could be a breakout game and honestly, I don’t feel like I’ve had a good start to the season, so with [Greg] possibly out, Coach [Mike Dougherty] told me most of the plays will go to me and I’m prepared for that,” said Purvis, who has 151 yards and no touchdowns in two games. “When C.J. went down last year, people wondered what we were going to do. I was ready to be that answer then and I’m excited and ready to do that now.”
With or without Stroman, it’s safe to say the Raiders need an all-around strong effort to bounce back from last week’s loss. After building a three-touchdown lead in the first half, the Raiders saw Hylton reel off five straight touchdowns in a 36-22 defeat.
As was the case last week, Dougherty’s focus will be winning the battle up front against a strong Forest Park defense that’s allowed just 14 points in two games and shut out previously ranked Battlefield. If Stroman can’t go, sophomore Nick Arnold will be tasked with running the Raiders’ hurry-up spread offense and working with Purvis to reach Dougherty’s goal of 200-plus rushing yards as a team.
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