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With a 49-14 win over Florida School for the Deaf and Blind, Bronson Eagles are 3-1, a fantastic start. Eagles' head coach Al Cooksey said the team had a good night, but still plenty of improvement ahead.
"We've equaled our win total from last year already," he said. "But we had a lot of penalties and turnovers - too many - and we still need a lot of improvement."
Running backs Virgil Greenlee and Jesse Waybright led the Eagles with three touchdowns apiece. Greenlee rushed for 224 yards on 19 carries, and one of his three trips to the house came on 17-yard pass from Kelby Barber at the end of the first half.
Waybright had eight carries for 41 yards. Running back Rodolfo Contreras also had one touchdown for Bronson.
Bronson scarcely waited for the clock to begin counting when they scored on their opening drive, a run by Greenlee. With nine minutes left in the first quarter, they scored again on a nine-yard dash by Contreras. Bronson went for two and Barber carried the ball into the left end zone. Moments later it was Greenlee's turn again, starting just over midfield, as he cut through traffic for a 44-yard touchdown run. Barber's kick was good for a 21-0 first lead.
Bronson gave up 15 yards in a facemask penalty and the Dragons took advantage. From the D & B 43 yard line, Marcus Larry swept right and tore off a 57-yard TD run. The Dragons went for two, and fullback Ryan Santana got into the end zone, but the conversion was called back on a penalty, and the Dragons couldn't convert a second time.
Bronson returned to offense. In a drive that wrapped from the first to second quarter, Barber shared the ball around to tight end Mike Reza and running back Raymond Alvelle, but with the ball inside the D & B 40, he again turned to Waybright. On two straight runs, Waybright wove his way through the Dragon defense, staying upright down to the 17, then down to the goal line for a touchdown.
The Eagles' next drive took much longer, with Bronson receiving no fewer than five penalties. Each time the drive seemed in trouble, though, Barber would complete a long pass to Raymie Powers, or Greenlee would break out a big run. It took a long five minutes to get inside the D & B 20, but once there, Greenlee tore free for a 17-yard TD. At the half, Bronson led 35-6.
The Eagles fumbled twice to start the half, but got away with it because of their monstrous lead.
"If we were playing Branford again, we'd lose again," said Cooksey. "We've got to take better care of the football."
Nevertheless, the Eagle defense simply overpowered the Dragons, forcing them to punt. Starting on the Bronson 20, Greenlee had a 55-yard sprint that put the ball right outside the red zone. He and Contreras swapped carries until Waybright took over, carrying the ball into the end zone from the two-yard line.
After another big Bronson penalty that moved the ball down to the Eagle 30, D & B had little trouble moving the ball all the way. Santana took three straight plunges from the 14 to get the ball into the end zone, and then Larry ran in the two-point conversion.
Bronson now led 42-14, and would score one more time on the second-longest drive of the night. Right tackle Harold Hicks was checked in as an eligible ballcarrier and picked up seven yards on a single carry, getting the ball down to the 12 yard line. Waybright needed two more punches to get the ball over the goal line, and Barber kicked the extra point, his fifth on the night.
Cooksey was pleased to win so decisively, but pointed out that D & B is in a rebuilding cycle, having graduated several top players last year, including their highly skilled quarterback.
"They've got a new coach, a lot of new players," Cooksey said.
New QB Cory Koski, only in eighth grade, will need a little seasoning before he's ready to sell the Dragons' deception plays, described by the D & B chain crew as "our bread and butter."
Cooksey is happy to see his team develop. Freshman Raymond Alvelle carried the ball extensively in the first half, "hitting the holes and going north-south." Contreras and Waybright had a very good game on both sides of the ball, and Barber threw very well.
Greenlee's work on the night was very pleasing to Cooksey.
"I wanted Virgil to have a breakout night," he said.
"We're definitely getting better," Cooksey went on. "I'm happy for all of them. We've just got to practice harder - get the intensity level up, improve our blocking."
He sighed, smiling. The Eagles are 3-1.
Bronson travels to Trenton Friday. The Tigers are 0-4 but have beaten Bronson in their last three meetings.
Virgil Greenlee, 19 carries, 224 yards
Jesse Waybright, 8 carries, 86 yards
Raymond Alvelle, 8 carries, 54 yards
Rodolfo Contreras, 5 carries, 51 yards
Mike Reza, 5 catches, 60 yards
Raymie Powers, 4 catches, 63 yards
Virgil Greenlee, 2 catches, 41
Kelby Barber: 11 of 19, 164 yards, 1 TD
Mike Sinclair, 6 tackles, 2 assists
Jake Williams, 5 tackles, 4 assists
Jesse Waybright, 5 tackles, 2 assists
Harold Hicks, 4 tackles, 3 assists
Mike Knapp, 3 tackles, 3 assists, 1 sack