Varina 46, Gar-Field 13

For a Gar-Field football team looking to regain its swagger after a disappointing season a year ago, the 2005 campaign started inauspiciously Friday night. Varina overmatched the Indians from the opening kickoff in a 46-13 non-district victory at Gar-Field.

"We got beat by a better team," Gar-Field Coach Joe Mangano said of Varina, a Richmond team that has reached the playoffs 10 consecutive seasons.

Gar-Field finished 2-8 in 2004, including five straight losses to close the season. The Indians scored just 12 points during that final stretch, so they were eager to see improvement on offense in the season opener. Friday's performance was not particularly encouraging, but considering Varina's prowess, the Indians were not completely disappointed.

"In the offense we run, it's essential that [all] 11 players do their job," senior running back Mike King said. "If one person has a blown assignment, then it blows the play up. Tonight, people were missing blocks and doing wrong things that cost us a lot. It's early in the season. . . . We've got to take this as a learning experience."

Breakdowns on defense and special teams also helped to seal the Indians' fate. The visiting Blue Devils scored touchdowns on each of their first five possessions. Gar-Field fumbled the opening kickoff, had a punt blocked and returned for a touchdown, and had an extra point blocked.

"If you play someone like Varina, you can't have a blocked punt," Mangano said. "You can't fumble the ball, and you cannot have three-and-punts. That offense is way too potent."

Gar-Field rested five starting upperclassmen who were suffering from injuries that are not serious, Mangano said. They included offensive lineman Alex Fretz, cornerback Allan Moody and linebacker Cameron Fleming.

"We've got injuries, but that's no excuse," King said.

Varina scored a touchdown on its first play from scrimmage after Gar-Field fumbled the opening kickoff. Quarterback Davon Morgan hit tight end Mike Jones in the flat, and Jones raced for a 24-yard score.

On Varina's next drive, running back Brandon Minor punctuated a 61-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown plunge that made the score 14-0. The Indians responded with a 63-yard scoring drive. A 33-yard run by senior tailback Jonathan Clarkson set up quarterback Savion Frazier's 12-yard touchdown scamper.

Whatever momentum Gar-Field had gained on Frazier's run Varina reclaimed seconds later. On the first play of the ensuing drive, Morgan connected with a wide-open DeMarcus King for a 65-yard touchdown.

"I ain't going to say it was easy, but we played good," said Morgan, who only played the first half and completed seven of nine passes for 210 yards and four touchdowns.

King led Gar-Field with 69 yards on 13 carries, and Clarkson added 56 yards and a touchdown on eight carries.

"What doesn't kill you makes you stronger," King said. "We're just going to keep on going."

Gar-Field quarterback Savion Frazier is pressured by Varina's James Lee. Frazier had a 12-yard touchdown run that made the score 14-6.Gar-Field defensive back Melven Dickens leaves the field after Varina scored its fifth touchdown in the first half. In addition to the defensive lapses, Gar-Field fumbled the opening kickoff, had a punt blocked and returned for a touchdown, and had an extra point blocked. Varina's Jamar Jackson catches Gar-Field's Mike King in the backfield. King led Gar-Field with 69 yards on 13 carries.