MIDDLEBURG - Let’s set the stage. I arrive at Middleburg High School’s football practice field, saunter over to head coach Ryan Wolfe near midfield on the pitch, chat a bit then back up as the …
MIDDLEBURG - Let’s set the stage. I arrive at Middleburg High School’s football practice field, saunter over to head coach Ryan Wolfe near midfield on the pitch, chat a bit then back up as the first string offense starts the annual Bronco intrasquad scrimmage from the five yard line.
First play, boom, senior running back Mike Mitchell explodes off left tackle behind a giant offensive tackle and hits the jets for a first down 80 yard scoring jaunt right past me near the 20 yard as I am sprinting back on to the field to avoid a collision.
That was the start of an impressive afternoon for the Broncos who lit up the sideline with quarterback Jayden Jenkins and running backs Mitchell and T.J. Lane trading off chunkable gains on the Broncos defense; squad ones and twos.
What was lost in the mix was that Mitchell competed in the region 1-3A track and field championships less than 24 hours prior in Fort Walton Beach.
“I competed out there, but wanted this more,” said Mitchell, 15th in the 100 meters in 11.49 seconds (11.22 at districts for third) with H-back Wyatt Underwood who placed third in discus to advance to the Class 3A championship meet and fourth in the shot put.
Back on the gridiron, Jenkins, a Clay High transfer with a pretty good older brother, riddled the opposing defense with an array of quick sideline and up passes to both Mitchell and Lane that both got the necessary outside blocks from wideouts to damage the secondary for long gains.
“That’s a pretty good backfield with those three,” said Bronco coach Ryan Wolfe, who turned an era of consistent losing season into a 5-5 finish last year with some pretty close five losses. “We clean up some of the execution up front and we’ll be alright. I like what I saw for just two weeks of practice. We were in most of our games last year. Now we have to finish.”
Most notably last year was an excruciatingly close loss to Clay High at Clay High that ended with departed quarterback Luke Padgett stopped at the goal line on a two-point attempt to end the game at 23-21. That loss followed close losses of 35-32 to Episcopal and 36-27 to Gainesville.
“Better execution and staying focused and we could have been 8-2,” said Wolfe. “Now, some of those will be back with a different perspective.”
One of the standouts on offense, also by the way, one of the smallest guys out there, was junior free safety Aiden Postemski who batted down a few passes to much taller receivers in front of him and even stuck his nosy in for some nasty hits downfield. Postemski also nearly caught Lane on a breakaway for Lane.
“He has always been just a good athlete for us no matter where he plays,” said Wolfe. “We like his attitude.”
On the defense, “Cowboy” Austin Cruce was back at middle linebacker and showed off his usual orneriness with a “somewhat” out of bounds late hit on Mitchell that created some “scuffling” (both made amends) and played on, but the early intensity and enthusiasm was very apparent on both sides.
“Though the hit was a little questionable, I saw the guys getting after it this early,” said Wolfe. “I like that the kids are fired up right now.”
On the offensive line, some very big bodies up front with a pair of tackles that looked skyscraperish; 6’5” ish and I’d say 340-350 pounds-ish; and seemingly mobile as the corner was a favorite handoff drop off spot for Wolfe and offensive CO Boobie Tobler.
Center Dakota Gober was efficient and accurate on his snaps to Jenkins which is always a positive with Landon Padgett a 270-pounder and Bryce Meldrum a 350 pounder.
Defense had Josiah Pierre stuffing from one end and Demarion Suggs in the middle with Jaden Boyd manning a corner with Postemski in centerfield.
“Overall, we will be seeing if the season last year, five wins for Middleburg is a big deal, becomes a season that gets up motivated to do better,” said Wolfe. “We had to get the team to buy into our system and now it’s time to go further.”
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