Storm's Reign Begins on Saturday
The Virginia Storm look to put on a good show when they take the field Saturday night for the team's first home game of the season at the Smith River Sports Complex, according to head coach Chris Weeks.
The Storm, a semi-professional football team based in Martinsville/Henry County, will face off against the Concord Eagles, and according to Weeks, the prowess of the Eagles' quarterback will require much of the team's attention.
"I think the biggest thing we need to do defensively is contain the quarterback," said Weeks. "I think if we can shut their running game down, we should have a chance of winning the ball game."
The Storm, which predominantly utilize a 4-3 defense but also use the more unusual 3-5-3, will rely on defensive tackles Travis Broadhurst, who graduated from Magna Vista, and D.J. Edmunds, a G.W. Danville product, to do much of the heavy lifting, according to left tackle and three-year Storm veteran Hugo Hughes.
Broadhurst (6-foot-7, 360 pounds) and Edmonds (6-3, 290 pounds) will both likely require double teams according to Hughes, and thus will open up room for linebackers and defensive backs to make plays. Weeks added that free safety Arkaile Garner (5-10, 205), a Patrick Henry High School product, strong safety Darion Dunbar (5-8, 175), of Martinsville High School, and defensive end Caesar Tatum (6-2, 260), of Bassett High School, will also be key contributors on defense.
While the Storm could operate out of a slew of offenses considering the teams' wealth of receivers and running backs, Weeks said the team will utilize a spread offense on Saturday.
"I'd like to see us jump out early with a big lead utilizing our passing game if we can," said Weeks. "I think if we can get that success going early with passing the ball, we should definitely open things up later on in the game with our running game."
The acting field general for the Storm will be Kenny Perry, an assistant football coach at Bassett High School and graduate of North Carolina A&T.
"We have deadly, deadly speed at all positions," said starting center Curtis Hairston, adding that "you can't take your eye off of (Perry). If you try to over cover one guy, then he's going to hurt you. And if you leave one guy unattended, then they're going to hurt you."
Perry had success last week against the Richmond County (N.C.) Golden Beards. He connected on a pass to rookie wide receiver O'Shane Valentine for a 25-yard touchdown, and the QB returned a kickoff about 80 yards for the team's only other score.
"Kenny was definitely the player of the week last week," said Weeks.
The Storm's main running back is six-year veteran Tim Bryant (6-1, 200) according to Weeks, and the primary wide receiver is three-year veteran Brandon Jumper (5-10, 240, Magna Vista), although rookie receivers Valentine (5-10, 175) and Quintin Watkins (5-11, 175, Carlisle) are "vying for a lot of playing time."
Despite falling 20-12 in their opening contest, the Storm are excited about playing their first home game at SRSC and hope for a large turnout to help fuel their drive on the field.
"Having that, as we consider with our fans, the 12th man there in support really pumps the guys up. They enjoy playing in front of a big crowd, and it definitely helps with a little bit of motivation going into the game when we see that big crowd there to pump us up," said Weeks.
While the Eagles are not the Storm's biggest rival - that title belongs to the Carolina Heat, - Weeks said the team is always "psyched" to get on the field.
The Storm has partnered with the Community Storehouse this season, and the team will take $1 off the admission price for any fan who brings at least one can of non-perishable food to the event.
The current admission price is $6 for anyone 12 or older; $3 for children 6-12 and free for those 5 and younger.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. and concessions will be sold at the complex.
***** A Few names to know from the Virginia Storm Name: Kenny Perry Position: Quarterback Age: 27 Height: 6-3 Weight: 225 Notes: Perry had a hand in the team's only two touchdowns during a Week 1 loss on July 9. He scored the Storm's first TD on an 80-yard kickoff return and connected on a pass to rookie receiver O'Shane Valentine for a 25-yard score. Perry was a wide receiver at North Carolina A&T University and said he enjoys being the field general because he has good field vision and likes reading defenses. Perry takes the field after a three-year hiatus. He is an Algebra teacher at Laurel Park Middle School and moved to the area two years ago.
***** Name: O'Shane Valentine Position: Wide receiver Age: 18 Height: 5-10 Weight: 175 Notes: Valentine, a recent graduate of Bassett High School, was a running back who also ran track and field for the Bengals. Valentine was the only person other than Perry to score for the Storm last week. He snagged a 25-yard pass for one of the Storm's two scores.
***** Name: Tim Bryant Position: Running back Age: 32 Height: 6-1 Weight: 200 Notes: A product of Patterson High School in Maryland, Bryant has been with the Virginia Storm for six years. A veteran member of the team, Bryant holds the Storm's career record for rushing yards and will play an integral role in its success this season, according to head coach Chris Weeks.