There just may be some light at the end of the tunnel for Atkins’ junior varsity football team. Even though the Camels have yet to win a game, last week’s outing against Bishop McGuinness could prove to be a sign of better things to come.
Atkins lost 27-12. Even so, it was obvious to the fans in the stands that their favorite team has come a long way since posting back-to-back blow-out losses to Forsyth Country Day (40-0) and Mount Airy (57-0).
The 19-player roster is well-stocked with newcomers who had never put on a helmet and shoulder pads prior to last August. Of that total, only six players had any prior playing experience.
“Our main focus is to keep getting better with every practice and every game,” said Coach Dan Marazita. “As each week passes, we’re hoping to create something positive that we can build on for the future. This team is taking strides.”
To enhance its chances of winning, Atkins must tighten up its defense, which is prone to give up big plays. Ben Drane and Nate Woelful of Bishop McGuiness scored on touchdown runs of 72 yards and 59 yards.
“Take away those long touchdown runs and the game is a lot tighter,” said Marazita. “On one of their scores, we were in position to make the tackle, but we over-pursued and ran past the ball carrier. The other touchdown was a case of us being short-handed because we only had ten people on the field on that particular play.”
The Camels’ offense delivered its most productive performance to date. The Camels put together five legitimate drives and scored twice. What would have been the Camels’ third touchdown of the night was wiped by a holding penalty. Daquan Miller, Garrett Whitaker, Micah Adams and De’Juan Dunwood are the key offensive contributors.
“Our kids fought from beginning to end, that’s what impressed me the most about the McGuinness game,” said Marazita. “They got down, but they hung in there for 48 minutes and never gave up. That hasn’t always been the case with this group. This was the first time all season where our offense consistently moved the football.”
Miller, a freshman slot receiver, is excited about the Camels’ progress. Miller has the capability to develop into a big-play performer. He accounted for all of Atkins’s scoring against Bishop McGuinness. Early in the second quarter, he spotted a crease in the defense and scored on a 15-yard touchdown run. In the fourth quarter, he took a handoff on a reverse and sprinted 47 yards down the left sideline for another touchdown.
“Things are coming around,” said Miller. “Our defense kept us in the game and we showed that we can put some points on the board. I thank my teammates for the blocks that set everything up. On both touchdowns, I was able to find a hole and take it to the end zone.”
Atkins seeks its first win of the season tonight when it squares off against Winston-Salem Prep.