Big plays give Royal Tigers a huge start, propel them to victory
KING & QUEEN COURTHOUSE – After the final buzzer sounded, the opponents exchanged high-fives along the 50-yard line, the two teams split off to the opposing end zones, and coaches Gary Brock of Blessed Sacrament Huguenot and Kenny Waters of King & Queen shared an embrace as Brock congratulated Waters.
The two go way back – Brock coached Waters his entire high school career.
“He’s like a son to me,” Brock said.
Behind Waters, his King & Queen Central Royal Tigers were jubilant, celebrating their 36-20 triumph over the visiting Knights - and their first 1-0 start to a season in more than a decade.
But the Tigers’ huge victory was a tough loss for the Knights, who with their official opener begin 2019 at 0-1.
“Kenny Waters has done a great job over here,” Brock said after the game that was played on the Royal Tigers’ field. “He beat us at our own game tonight. He’s got a lot of speed and the thing was he knew what to do as far as exploit our weakness…kudos go to them and go to Kenny; he’s done a great job and he’s got more kids out this year than he had last year…he’s got them close to 30 right now…he’s got them believing and that’s the important thing. They’re going to be around; they’re a young team…”
The Knights were tasked with having to try and climb an 18-0 hill after King & Queen assembled three catch-and-run touchdown strikes of 54, 57 and 51 yards in the first quarter, but saw two PAT attempts and one two-point try come up short, with the Knights’ Chase Musselman blocking one of the two kicks.
Blessed Sacrament Huguenot mixed up their approaches on offense to lift themselves back into the hunt. After the run initially struggled to get going, BSH found gains in the passing game before starting quarterback Trevor Parker floated a 57-yard touchdown pass to Ben Newton. And then when Parker got hurt in the second quarter with a bruised hip that kept him out of the rest of the game, the Knights returned to the run - and they pounded the ball all the way down to the Tigers' 15, with kicker James Hawkins footing in a 34-yard field goal 6.1 seconds before halftime.
The standout senior would deliver another three-point shot – this one from 27 yards out – through the middle of the uprights to whittle King & Queen’s lead down to 18-13 after the Knights moved the chains and reached the Tigers' 10 on the steady run game in a drive that ate up nearly 10 minutes of the third-quarter clock. King & Queen's offense didn’t take the field in the second half until the 1:55 mark of the third.
But the Royal Tigers delivered. With a pass interference call on third down helping keep their drive alive, the Tigers responded to the new chance by scoring on a 53-yard bomb to stretch the lead back out to multiple possessions, where it stayed with the help of 8- and 24-yard touchdown runs. But the Knights didn’t go empty-handed in the fourth quarter, as Dominic Falchi had defenders hanging on to him while he muscled across the goal line from 15 yards out.
“We showed a lot of heart there at the end when we drove down and just decided: ‘Hey, we’re gonna score before this game is finished,’ so I’m real proud of my kids there,’” Brock said, adding: “We’re gonna experience some growing pains this year, and this is one of them.”
According to VHSL-Reference.com, the Royal Tigers' victory on Aug. 30 was their first time winning their season-opener since they beat West Point 34-0 on Sept. 3, 2004.
Brock is proud of Coach Waters – whom he coached both in baseball and in football – and his Knights, he added, have some work to do.
“We’ve got a ways to go,” Brock said. “We’ll saddle up and get back to work…and go from there.”