When Patrick Henry fans collectively went, "WHEW!" last Friday night about 9:15pm, willing their Patriots to an important 16-8 home win over pesky John Marshall, the Patriots, in their first campaign under Coach Sam Hart, found themselves in the midst of a three-game winning streak, with a record of 3-2, 2-0 in the Colonial District.
There are almost as many questions after five games of the 2010 campaign as there are answers. But, conversely, there is much more to be optimistic about than there was before opening night. Here are a few of my observations after viewing the first five games.
1) "A Closer Knit Unit"---The 2010 version of the Patriots has matured in front of our eyes in five quick weeks, none moreso than week three at the Tomato Bowl. It would have been easy for an 0-2 Patriot squad, down 24 points after only 18 minutes of football, in Mechanicsville, to mail it in, will themselves to their second straight season of winless football in Hanover County and start looking ahead to the Colonial District. They, instead, chose the road less traveled. And, once the 25 point comeback was complete, as I watched Jayrin Waller run across the field with the Tomato Bowl trophy, I saw a young program take a huge step forward. Since then, I've seen more of a Patriot "unit" rather than a group of players wearing the same uniform. Going through something, both negatively and positively, either galvanizes or rips apart. This Patriot squad did the former. And it took the disappointment of the first 2.3 games, as well as the comeback, to do so.
2) "We Can Do It"---It's common knowledge that Hermitage is the prohibitive favorite in the Colonial District this season. Everyone else seems to be playing for second place. Different teams look at this challenge in different ways. With the Pats coming off their 3-7 season of 2009, it seems their attitude towards this is, "Why Not Us?" The schedule is most friendly to the Patriots, as they are the last team that has to climb Mount Hermitage and attempt the upset of the year. Now that TJ and John Marshall are behind them, the Pats look ahead to a tough Godwin squad on the road (especially their defense), a down Deep Run team coming in for homecoming, a currently-winless Freeman team on the road, and a J.R. Tucker team coming to Ashland who are not as deep as they were in '09 when they finished 8-2 and beat PH in overtime. In other words, the table is set. If the Patriots take it one step at a time and handle each assignment given them, then, come week ten, they could go to Hermitage with the District Title at stake, which will probably be the only way PH can extend their season. So, again I ask, "Why Not Us?"
3) "Consistency"---The one caveat, looking ahead to weeks six through ten, to me, is a desperate need for consistency. The 2010 Patriots have yet to play a "complete" game in all three game phases. When they do, they can beat most Colonial District teams at home, compete on the road, and have an outside shot at Hermitage. The current 3-2 record has come due to a classic comeback, being worn down by Hanover and Atlee, and home wins over teams they should have won.
If there IS consistency, especially moreso on offense, then we could be in for a very exciting second half of the season. If not? We'll discover quickly just how far the 2010 Patriots, at their current maturation level, can go.
It starts Friday night at 6:30 at Mills Godwin High School! Listen to WHAN (1430) or online LIVE at the link at the top of this page!
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