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HCHS faces Buckingham in VHSL benefit game

How ready is the Halifax County High School varsity football team to start the 2013 season?

That answer will come, at least in part, tonight.

Halifax County High School travels to Buckingham to take on Buckingham High School tonight at 7 p.m. in a Virginia High School League benefit game.

For some Comets players, tonight is a big night – a night that will go a long way in determining whether they get the starting nod for next Friday night’s season opener against Jefferson Forest High School or will have to settle for a backup role.

“It’s kind of like the NFL,” remarked Comets Head Coach Mike Roark.

“It’s that final pre-season game, and where depth charts are made. We’ve got four different positions we need to dial in. When we walk out there Friday night we’ve got a good idea of our starting 11 on both sides of the ball, but there will be probably four positions that we’re going to have some people playing out for, playing for starting spots and backups.”

While tonight’s benefit game against Buckingham High School will be a live game, it will be a structured exercise for both teams.

“There will be a couple of rotations with the first bunch,” Roark explained.

“The seconds (second stringers) will see some rotations in there, and then we might make some decisions at halftime and play it out and see what goes from there.” 

Roark emphasized that the focus of his team’s work this week, as it has been, has been on the Comets’ season-opening opponent, Jefferson Forest High School.

“This week, we’ve been preparing for Jefferson Forest,” Roark pointed out.

“That’s what counts. Buckingham is a good team. They’re going to come out and run a little spread (offense), they’re going to run some screens (screen passes) and they will be in a 3-3 stack (on defense).

“They’re a good team,” he continued, “but, at the same time, it doesn’t matter. It’s that red and black team (Jefferson Forest High School) that we’ve got to go over to Bedford to play next Friday night that counts.”

As was the case last Friday night when the Comets hosted Staunton River High School in a pre-season scrimmage, Roark says his team will stick to basic offensive and defensive schemes in tonight’s contest against Buckingham.

“We will be very vanilla,” said the Comets coach.

“We will run our base and we’ll run our no-huddle stuff. It’s going to be nothing fancy. It’s going to be let’s play fast and play well.

“You’ll see the same stuff you saw last week,” he added.

“We’re going to run our screens, we’re going to run our jets, our counters and traps. We’re going to give athletes the ball, put them out in space and let them make plays.”

Fortunately for Roark and the Comets, Buckingham uses similar offensive and defensive packages to those used by the Comets.

“Buckingham runs our defense, so that helps us,” Roark said.

“We’ve seen that every day in practice. That helps our guys. Offensively, they’re a little more like us on offense — they’re one-back gun and run a spread. They run screens and counters, the same stuff we run.

“We’re still getting a look,” he added, “but at the same time, we’re getting everything dialed in for Jefferson Forest.”