The aerial assaults and precision ground offensives directed by Travon McMillian and Greg Stroman won’t be the story line when Stonewall Jackson (1-0) hosts No. 16 Hylton (1-0) on Friday. With both Stroman and McMillian departed for careers at Virginia Tech, the battle to watch is in the trenches, where two top recruits — Hylton offensive lineman Matt Burrell Jr. and Raiders defensive lineman Tim Settle will establish the line of scrimmage. Settle, for one, isn’t fretting about the 1-on-1.
“I’m not psyched at all,” Settle said of facing Burrell. “He’s just another lineman. I don’t want to change my mentality — which is to kill. You can get down and negative, but a name is a name. You gotta be able to outwork him, and on Friday he’s going to get treated just like everybody else I play against or line up across.”
When Hylton rebounded from a 22-point first half deficit to upend the Raiders in 2013, Bulldogs Coach Tony Lilly cited team conditioning and a willingness to grind it out in the fourth quarter as the differences in his team’s win. Heading into Friday’s rematch in Manassas, Settle believes the Raiders will persevere.
“In the third quarter, if it’s tied, it’ll be like Usain Bolt on the last leg,” he said. “We’ll stick with them, stick with them and then hit our stride and take off like a jet plane.”
At quarterback for Hylton, junior Donovan Williams saw spot action behind an injured McMillian last season and also contributed at slot receiver. Last week, he carried nine times for 82 yards and a touchdown and completed seven of 15 passes for 91 yards and a score as the Bulldogs rolled Osbourn, 50-0. The Raiders have replaced Stroman with senior Nick Arnold, who brings a power running element to the position.
“There’s definitely nobody in the state, country or universe that can change things like Greg Stroman at quarterback,” Settle said of the transition. “We have to go with more of a different thing at quarterback, and you’ll see it Friday.”
Bulldogs freshman running back Ricky Slade brings athleticism to the position that Hylton hasn’t had in years. Slade rushed 15 times for 148 yards and two touchdowns in his first varsity contest. His Raiders counterpart is senior Reggie Floyd, the younger brother of All-Met basketball forward and Wake Forest freshman Nicole Floyd. Floyd scored once in Stonewall’s 17-7 win over Potomac (Va.) last week.
Settle says the Raiders rotate eight or nine defensive lineman so each can give 100-percent effort on every play. The Raiders offensive line is improving, too, he said. If they take care of their assignments up front, “Reggie Floyd’s going to have a field day,” Settle said. “I’m talking 200 or 300 yards.”
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