Playing with a short roster, Saturday’s season opener with Hargrave turned out to be a best of both worlds scenario for Blue Ridge with coach Orlando Patterson looking for his team to play more crisply and fluidly, but with the Barons having little trouble picking up the first win of the year, 53-13.
“It comes down to execution,” Patterson said. “(In the first half) we had big plays called back because of penalties and some trouble under center from pulling up too early. We had some good series, but it was off and on and I’d like to see a bit more consistency. That’s something we’ll work on for sure.”
While Blue Ridge and Hargrave both struggled mightily to move the ball through the air in wet conditions, Shawn Steen’s play at running back was more than enough to fuel the Barons. The junior had an all-around day doing just a little bit of everything as he carried the ball 13 times for 143 yards and two rushing TDs while also coming up with a pair of interceptions on defense and kicking seven PATs.
“Today we were low on numbers so it was very demanding on all of us,” Steen said. “Our defense was outstanding but on offense I think we have a bit of work to do. We pulled through though and we’re going to get right back to work on Monday.”
While not every clicked offensively, when the Barons wanted to run outside off of its spread look, they had no problem with the line dominating the line of scrimmage and opening wide running lanes, particularly outside.
“The line does a good job, they keep their blocks inside and I owe a lot to them because they did everything they could,” Steen said.
Behind Steen and fellow running back Cody Pengram who ran for 61 yards on 11 attemps and two touchdowns, the Barons rolled out to a 23-7 lead in the first half. With the Tigers struggling on offense, Blue Ridge widened its lead through out the third and fourth quarter to go up 39-7. Midway through the fourth, Steen’s second touchdown and kickoff return for a 90-yard touchdown from Leon Strauss, the Barons were able to get to a running clock before Hargrave picked up its second score of the game with time winding down.
Straus had two kickoff returns for 165 yards. On defense, Mujahid Fricke was a rock with seven tackles.
“I think we just have to get everyone on the same page,” Patterson said. “We’re going to be working hard in practice this week to do that.”
Blue Ridge (1-0) heads to Blessed-Sacrement Huguenot on Friday at 7 p.m.