Jon Latimer had to wait 17 days to start his senior football season at Osbourn, and Monday night he made rival Stonewall Jackson pay.
After missing several two-a-day practices, Latimer sat out the Eagles' disappointing opening-night loss at Virginia AA King George on Aug. 27. But he returned Monday, providing speed to Osbourn's wing-T offense and patrolling the defensive backfield as Osbourn's lone safety in a 19-0 victory over host Stonewall Jackson in a nondistrict game between Cardinal District rivals. (Osbourn will host Stonewall on Oct. 9 in a game that will count in the district standings.)
Latimer (14 carries, 74 yards) ran for a 21-yard touchdown and set up another with a 23-yard scamper. His presence on defense gave the rest of the revamped Osbourn defense the confidence to attack as the Eagles allowed the Raiders to cross midfield only once until the final series.
"[Latimer] gives us speed, no doubt about it," said a drenched Randy Bove, whose players dumped a water cooler on his head to celebrate his first victory as Eagles head coach. "He sat out [the opener] for disciplinary reasons, but I think he saw the light, and he has a better attitude."
With that attitude, not to mention his pent-up desire after the game was postponed from Thursday because of lightning, Latimer couldn't wait to get on the field.
"Coming over here Thursday, going through all the motions and then not playing against our rival, I have been waiting a long time to play," Latimer said.
With the extended layoff between games, Bove installed an entirely new defense, and the Eagles responded. Osbourn forced five fumbles, recovering four, including three by senior defensive end Stacee Britman. (Osbourn's offense also got in on the fumble fun, recovering four of the Eagles' six miscues.) Osbourn held Stonewall to 119 total yards and five first downs.
The 6-foot-1, 175-pound Latimer described the defensive changes that made the difference.
"With me back there [at safety], roaming around, it helps everyone else attack," he said. "Our linebackers were firing in there tonight."
Bove agreed: "We made adjustments to get into attack mode; we were trying to put pressure on [Stonewall]. In our first game, there was no rhyme or reason to what we were doing out there, and we gave up big plays. Tonight, we stuck to our assignments."
Junior fullback Belart LaRochelle followed his 169-yard performance at King George by gaining 80 yards on 19 carries, and senior quarterback Chris Coates set the tone with 11- and 21-yard runs on Osbourn's first drive, which resulted in a 24-yard Sean McLaughlin field goal.
"Basically, I'm just a running back that gets the snaps back there," said Coates, who took over signal-calling duties after Frankie Hogan transferred to Osbourn Park. "Actually, those [early] runs were pass plays, but I'd rather run the ball."
Stonewall Jackson Coach Jim Powell could point only to his team's inexperience in what could shape up to be a long season for the Raiders.
"We'll be okay because young kids bounce back, but we only have five seniors [with game experience entering this season] and 21 sophomores," Powell said. "Hopefully, we'll turn it around and get better."
Stonewall continues to rotate junior Derek Czarkowski and sophomore Dan Rosinski at quarterback. Rosinski completed three straight passes to lead the Raiders to the Eagles 5-yard line before the first half ran out.
Note: Bove will present the game ball at the funeral of longtime Osbourn booster Johnny Foster. Foster, a fixture at Eagle practices and on the team bus for the better part of two decades, died last week.
Osbourn (1-1) 3 6 10 0--19
Stonewall Jackson (0-2) 0 0 0 0-- 0
O--McLaughlin 24 FG
O--Coates 2 run (run failed)
O--McLaughlin 25 FG
O--Latimer 21 run (McLaughlin kick)
RUSHING--Osbourn: LaRochelle 19-80; Latimer 14-74; Coates 11-22; Stonewall Jackson: Bailey 15-32, Lane 4-16, Puvogel 2-21, Saunder 2-3.
PASSING--Osbourn: Coates 0-4-0 0; Stonewall Jackson: Rosinski 5-12-1 68.
RECEIVING--Stonewall Jackson: Christian 2-41, Puvogel 2-27.
CAPTION: Stonewall Jackson's Parker Terry (10) brings down Jon Latimer, who rushed for 74 yards, touchdown on offense, made big impact on defense in 19-0 victory.
CAPTION: After missing season opening loss because of disciplinary reasons, Jon Latimer helps Osbourn run past Stonewall.