Sometimes it’s just so refreshing when a program taps into its old identity, particularly when a enough years seperate two groups of players. Obviously nobody on the current Buckingham County football team was one the 2013 roster when the Knights made it to the Group 2A semifinals. But an awful lot of this Knights coaching staff was there five years ago. First year coach Seth Wilkerson is doing a little bit of a reunion tour in Dillwyn. He used to run the defense for former coach Craig Gill in 2013. With Mike Edmonds and Taylor Boyers, also assistants back in 2013 and back on board in similar capacities with Wilkerson, Buckingham is choosing to remember what they learned, leaning on the old Knight-set formation. Against a Nottoway team equipped with a lot of team speed, the Knights went old fashioned, played stingy defense and then lined up in a tight goalline-like formation for the entire game and simply wore down the Cougars for a 19-3 win on homecoming.
“I learned a little something from Coach Gill while I was here before,” Wilkerson said. “I was hoping we’d be able to be this physical and run right at them. They’ve got a lot of speed and that was one of things I learn from Coach Gill, you run at speed, you don’t try and run around it. So that’s what we did and we have success doing it.”
While the story most of the night was the domination in terms of time of possession with Buckingham holding the ball seemingly the entire game, the Knights defense really set the tone from the first quarter until the last. Nottoway wasn’t able to sniff Buckingham territory until midway through the second quarter thanks to a turnover. The defense came up with a redzone stop on fourth and one, forcing a fumble. The at the end of the first the Cougars got close to the door when Demaris Anderson broke off a big kickoff return to set up the Cougars in the red zone. The defense held and Nottoway settled for a 27-yard field goal. That was it for the scoring. While the Cougars got another big return from Anderson to set up first and goal from the 10-yard line late in the third quarter. Nottoway got the ball to the 1-yard line but a tackle by Nathan Brickhill kept the Cougars out of the endzone and that was it. All Buckingham had to worry about was that field goal.
“Upfront on the line we played real well and we’re getting better there each week,” Wilkerson said. “We’ve got two freshmen and five sophomores starting on both sides of the ball. That’s the main thing, those guys just have to practice hard each week and get better each week and we’re starting to pick things up.”
Of course that field was kicked after the Knights had just scored the first of their three touchdowns on the day. After both teams punted and traded a few turnovers back and forth, the Knights defense came with that first fourth down stop and put together an 85-yard touchdown with quarterback Cameron Taylor, running back Walter Edwards and receiver Xavier Copeland all grind out short runs to move the chain slowly but surely. Finally with 1:05 left until the break, Edwards broke off the Knights’ first big play on offense with a 20-yard run to the right side of the endzone and make it 6-0.
“Everyday this week we came out and fought and gave it 100% in practice and I thought that helped us a lot,” said junior two-way lineman Cole Edmonston. “(Blocking for Edwards) is amazing. It’s kind of funny though, he can get a little bit of a temper and I think that fires us. He knows that we can block for him and we know that when we block for him its bound to be a touchdown.”
After the Knights defense came up with a fumble recovery at midfield, Buckingham put together a debilitating drive that lasted six minutes with Taylor capping it with a QB keeper on 4th and goal from the 1-inch line to make it 12-3 with 4:18 left in the third. It was from there that Nottoway that other huge return from Anderson which ended in another fourth down stop. The Cougars looked to be getting the ball back in early in the fourth quarter but Demetrius Davis fell on a muffed punt to set up a relatively short field. On the second play from scrimmage, Edwards broke off his longest run of the night, a 36-yard touchdown to make it 19-3 and put the game away.
“I feel like when that happened we got in their heads and they gave up,” Edwards said. “I think we just fought through this one and that was the difference. Feels amazing.”
On the night, Edwards finished with 14 carries for 117 yards and a pair of touchdowns. This is the second straight week that the Buckingham defense held a team to seven points or less in regulation. The Knights defense has held their last four opponents to 32 total points.
Buckingham (2-3, 1-2 James River District) now head to face archrival Goochland (4-0, 2-0) on the road Friday at 7 p.m. The Knights last took down the Bulldogs in 2015 which ended an 11-year streak for Goochland. Since 2009, Buckingham and Goochland have accounted for at least a share of the James River District title. With the Knights playing a loaded schedule up front that loosens up in October, heading into next week with two wins just greatly increased their odds of getting back into the playoffs, which would also be the first time since 2015.