ABINGDON Va. — Abingdon football coach Garrett Amburgey devised a bold plan at the start of the 2021 spring season.
After years of operating with a pass-heavy spread attack on offense, the Falcons went to a power-based I-formation.
That was sweet news for 285-pound offensive lineman Dasean Lucas and his big buddies.
“We like carrying the load,’” Lucas said. “About all of us have been playing together since midget league, and we know what to do.”
The AHS line corps paved the way Friday as the Falcons posted a 28-21 win over the County Central Warriors in a marquee Mountain 7 District game.
According to Amburgey, his plan to change offensive looks was hatched on the first day of practice in February.
“We didn’t know what we were going to get weather-wise in the spring, so I told my staff that we had the personnel to make the move,” Amburgey said. “It’s turned out to be a great offense for us.”
Abingdon (4-1, 2-0) relied on balance to open a 28-7 halftime lead. Cole Lambert passed for 101 yards a score, while the senior backfield tandem of Bishop Cook and Malique Hounshell combined for 105 yards.
“Bishop and Malique bring a little of everything — speed, power, blocking and the ability to catch passes,” said Lucas, who played through a sprained shoulder.
“We came out really physical and put together probably our best half of the season, but [Wise Central] is also physical, and we don’t face offenses like that often.”
That offense for Wise Central is a deceptive Wing-T. By running off-tackle with powerful junior Dustin Sturgill and working outside with speedy senior Matthew Boggs, the Warriors (2-3, 0-2) controlled the ball in the second half.
“We’ve just got to start faster. That’s the battle of the last two weeks,” Wise Central coach Luke Owens said. “We’ve just started dadburn games so slow that we’re having to claw and scratch to get back into it.”
Wise Central opened the second half with a 70-yard scoring drive consisting of straight 15 running plays.
With senior linebacker Logan Mullins and big senior end Daniel Hawkins making stops on defense, the Warriors closed their deficit to 28-21 with seven seconds left in the game when first-year quarterback Braden Church hit Logan Mullins with a 38-yard TD pass.
The suspense ended when Jackson Lane recovered the ensuing onside kick for AHS.
Did Owens use a fiery halftime speech to ignite his team?
“No. It was just simple mental errors early like not getting lined up right on defense,” Owens said. “It looked we had been in quarantine for 10 days, and then we woke up in the second half.
“I thought we played well defensively; we moved the ball and did all little things we needed to win. We just didn’t get ourselves enough time.”
Boggs led the Warriors with 99 yards rushing on 19 carries, while Sturgill added 65 yards on 10 carries.
AHS opened the night with scoring drives of 12 and 10 plays. When Wise Central pulled within 14-7 at the 6:31 mark of the second quarter, versatile AHS senior Haynes Carter answered with a 70-yard kickoff return for a score.
The remainder of the game was a chess match between head coaches and coordinators.
“We were trying to melt away that fourth quarter,” Amburgey said. “[Wise Central] did a good job running its offense, but we found a way to win.”
Cook finished with 65 yards rushing on 18 carries, while Hounshell added 57 yards on 13 attempts and Lambert supplied 124 yards passing.
Thanks to their consistent line crew, the Falcons are grounding and pounding out victories behind their new I-Formation.
“We’ve grown and improved with the offense,” Amburgey said. “We can throw out of it, we’ve got some special running backs that can do a lot of things, and that offensive line moves people.”
Wise Central 0 7 7 7-21
Abingdon 14 14 0 0-28
AHS – Cook 12 (Reid kick)
AHS – Lambert 1 run (Reid kick)
WC – Church 1 run (Onate kick)
AHS – Carter 70 kickoff return (Reid kick)
AHS – Mock 13 pass from Lambert (Reid kick)
WC – Boggs 3 run (Onate kick)
WC – L. Mullins 38 pass from Church (Onate kick)
First Downs: WC 18, AHS 10; Rushes-Yards: WC 40-193, AHS 33-118; Passing Yards: WC 68, AHS 124; Comp.-Att.-Int: WC 5-12-0, AHS 6-11-2; Fumbles-Lost: WC 2-0, AHS 1-0; Penalties-Yards: WC 9-70, AHS 4-40; Punts-Average: WC 3-24, AHS 1-36
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