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Comets ready for final test

With the pre-season work close to being completed, the Halifax County High School varsity football team will face its final pre-season test tonight when it faces Buckingham County High School at 7 p.m. in a Virginia High School League Benefit Game at Tuck Dillard Stadium.

Admission for tonight’s game is $5 per person. No passes will be honored.

Halifax County High School Head Coach Michael Roark says that while the rules will be a little different from those used in regular-season play, he and the team are looking at this as if it were, in fact, a real game.

“We’re going to take it like a football game, but at the same time, we realize there are some things we can get away with, things that we have another week to prepare for in case something happens,” Roark said.

“We’ve gone into this week preparing for it as if it were a game. There is a lot we can get out of it. The advantage is that it is just a benefit game. Buckingham is coming down here ready to play football. They’re going to get off of the bus and get ready to come get us. We’ve got to have the mentality to go get them.”

The primary difference fans will see in tonight’s game is that the two teams will implement only certain components of special teams play. For instance, tonight on kickoffs, once a player catches the football, the ball will be declared dead and placed on the 20-yard line. For punts, the ball will be declared dead where a player catches the ball.

One of the big things about the special teams play tonight, Roark says, will be running the special team units onto and off of the field

“That’s what we’ve got to do Friday night to get ready for Jefferson Forest,” Roark pointed out. 

“Normally, you’re doing that for the first time on Week One if you don’t have a benefit game.” 

Tonight’s game against Buckingham will give Roark and the coaching staff an opportunity to fine-tune the things they have been working on during the pre-season and to see what areas need more work as the team gears up for next Friday night’s home season-opener against Jefferson Forest High School.

One of the things Roark wants to see is what happens with his team if and when it faces adversity.

“One of the things I’ve been saying is that it is hard to coach adversity,” Roark said.

“Here is a chance to see what happens. If we have some adversity, it’s not going to hurt us.”

The Comets prepared for tonight’s VHSL Benefit Game with workouts during Wednesday night’s Meet The Comets Night event at Tuck Dillard Stadium. A fund-raiser for the football program, fans had the opportunity to see all three Comets football teams in inter-squad scrimmages.

“We threw the no-huddle (offense) in today,” he noted.

“We didn’t do that last Friday in the scrimmage against LCA. We were signaling in formations, signaling in our calls. For the most part, we got our calls right, which, to me, is huge.

“Defensively, we got a little more multiple,” he added.

“We were very aggressive. Our defense was hitting. We hit a lot better than we did last Friday (against LCA) and we wrapped up a lot better than we did last Friday. I’m pretty happy.”

One of the defensive standouts was sophomore Shalar Charlton.

“Shalar destroyed us on about 10 plays,” Roark noted.

“I hope he does that for us all year.”

Wednesday night’s event gave Roark and the coaching staff a chance to see what kind of shape the team is in from a conditioning standpoint.

“The kids saw how fast-paced this offense can be,” he pointed out.

“We went no-huddle and popped off 80 plays in 30 minutes. In a normal high school game, you’ll be lucky to get 65 to 70 plays. The linemen are still a little out of shape, but we can slow some of that down.”

Roark also pointed out that the Comets ninth-grade and junior varsity teams also had good outings Wednesday night.

“The little guys had a good night out here,” he said.

“I was really impressed with some of the things our freshmen linemen were doing. We have a good quarterback (Kyran Adams) on our jayvee team. He ran the ball well and he understands the offense pretty well.”