25 August 2016
The Flying Fluco football team under Coach Steve Szarmach is looking for a strong start this season.
The team’s first game is Friday (Aug. 26) when they will travel to Loudon County to take on Freedom-South Riding High School. The team’s home opener is on the Friday of Labor Day weekend (Sept. 2), when Spotsylvania High comes to Fluvanna. Last season the Flucos suffered through a winless season, but they lost to these two teams by one point each. Accordingly, they are looking to turn those two losses around and get off to a winning start. A special pre-game barbecue tailgate is planned in the parking lot for the home opener.
Last Friday (Aug. 19) the Flucos hosted the Waynesboro High Little Giants for a scrimmage contest. Although the final score of the scrimmage was Waynesboro-30, Fluvanna-3, there were some definite positives for Szarmach and his coaching crew. The Fluco offense looked good at times, but costly penalties on third down and short stopped several drives in their tracks.
The crucial quarterback position was split between veteran senior Mark Grooms and newcomer junior Ethan Graves. Both quarterbacks performed fairly well. Grooms, who has played quarterback and running back in his career, ran the ball effectively on keepers and draws. Grooms posted some very impressive numbers last year in runs from scrimmage. Graves threw some excellent passes in this scrimmage, connecting mostly with sophomore wide receiver Joey Van Dyke.
In the most exciting play for the Flucos, Graves threw long down the middle from the 50 and hit Van Dyke right on stride. Van Dyke shook off a tackler at the 20 and went in for what looked like the Flucos’ first touchdown. Unfortunately, the officials spotted a down field block in the back that probably had no impact on the play. The touchdown was called back and the ball was spotted at the 22-yard line. The Flucos were unable to move the ball successfully and had to settle for a 34-yard field goal by Graves.
Early in the game the Flucos suffered a couple of breakdowns on defense that the Little Giants exploited for scores, so the Flucos were in the hole early trailing 14-0 after only four minutes of play. Waynesboro added a touchdown and field goal in the second quarter, leaving the Flucos to trail 24-0 at the half.
In the second half the Fluco defense stiffened and the teams played pretty evenly throughout, but the damage was done. After the game Szarmach would not commit to who he would be using at quarterback in the regular season. He noted that Graves played well in the scrimmage, but said that he needs some varsity experience. He also commented that it is important to “get the ball to your best athletes,” which is probably a reference to Grooms. Szarmach also noted that the team has “some things to work on” on defense. However, he did praise the defensive work of Craig Russo and Van Dyke at linebacker. Russo seemed to be everywhere, as he was in on many of the tackles. Russo also was a work horse at running back.
For this scrimmage Szarmach sent out five seniors as the teams’ captains. Quarterback Mark Grooms, running back Jordon Melton, defensive lineman Jake Morris, defensive lineman Chase Payne, and running back/linebacker Craig Russo met with the officials and the Waynesboro captains before the game.
The scrimmage against Waynesboro was fully officiated and played with normal clock rules. There was no interruption of play for instructions or for do-overs. The only difference from a regular game was with regard to special teams play. Punts and field goal attempts were not rushed and punts and kick-offs were not returned. These are plays on which injuries are most likely to occur. Szarmach is already concerned with injuries as he commented that “we don’t have a lot of depth.” So it was for the best not to risk further injuries with wide open special teams play.
The Fluco roster for this season consists of 40 young men and one young women. Senior Kayllee Hellms handled kick-off duties for the Flucos in the second half.