The James River Knights were able to wrap up the Pioneer District football championship with a 41-7 win over Craig County in Buchanan last Friday.
The game was over at the half, as River opened a 34-0 lead by intermission. It was 41-0 before Craig scored on a 53 yard pass play from Josh Oulette to Brenton Christian in the fourth quarter, one of few passes the Rocket receivers caught during the game.
“We dropped 13 passes,” said Craig coach Mark McPherson. “Josh threw the ball as well as he’s thrown it all year, but we dropped 13 passes. He was eight for 26, and if we catch half of those balls he’s 15 for 26 and that’s a pretty good game.”
McPherson saw the game as a reflection on the whole season.
“We never could make the big plays when we needed them, and that’s the way it’s been all year,” he said. “I’m disappointed with our record, but I’m not disappointed with the effort. The kids tried hard and conducted themselves with good character all year long.”
Craig finished 2-8 with wins over Parry McCluer and Montcalm of West Virginia. The Rockets averaged 12 points a game and gave up an average of 28 points a game. Last year Craig averaged 21 points a game but gave up an average of 38.
“Our defense was much better this year, but our offense wasn’t as good,” said McPherson. “Last year we averaged about 300 yards a game, and this year that was down to 200 yards a game. We just never could seem to get it going on offense.”
Josh Oulette passed for 687 yards and five touchdowns. He threw six interceptions, and last year Craig quarterbacks threw 19, so that was much better.
“We cut down on our turnovers overall,” said McPherson.
James Jones was the rushing leader with 353 yards while Danny Alley led the receivers with 14 catches for 194 stripes. Barry Hoover led in tackles and also had two interceptions.
Craig will lose three seniors, Jacob Rickett, Jarod Deel, and Christian Persinger. Senior Adam Howard was lost to an injury early in the season and never was a factor this year, and that hurt the offense as well. Craig had a strong jayvee team and, with the group coming back next year, the prospects are bright.
“I’m looking forward to the future,” said McPherson. “Now we have to get back in the weight room and get stronger, and if we do I think we can have a pretty good team next year.”