DAMASCUS, Va. – Rye Cove High School has been one of the pleasant surprises on the Southwest Virginia prep football scene this fall.
The turnaround for a team that went 2-8 a year ago has been due in large part to how well the offensive line has played. Head coach Tom Callaway is not surprised by that development.
“They should,” Callaway said. “They’ve been there a long time.”
The veteran guys on the O-Line paved the way once again as Rye Cove rolled to a 36-14 non-district victory over Holston on Friday night.
It was the third straight win for Rye Cove (4-1) and the Eagles doubled their win total from a year ago.
Seniors Sammy Ervin (6-foot, 265 pounds) and Isaac Hammonds (5-foot-11, 225 pounds) were the anchors, while juniors Jon Hood (6-foot, 250 pounds) and Justin Austin (5-foot-10, 230 pounds) also supplied some muscle as Rye Cove racked up 248 yards on the ground.
Running back Silas Bush was the biggest beneficiary of the play of the guys in the trenches as he gained 109 yards and scored three touchdowns.
“They’re the best,” Bush said. “Without them, I wouldn’t have gotten any of this yardage. They are great.”
Bush scored on runs of 1, 1 and 4 yards as the senior speedster continued a solid season. He scored Rye Cove’s first touchdown and his second TD gave the Eagles a commanding 22-7 advantage in the second quarter.
“He got out there the first part of the game and was running from east to west and I sure didn’t like that at all,” Callaway said. “I told him to start turning those shoulders back upfield and when he did he started picking up all those yards.”
It helped that he had big holes to run through.
“We’ve just had some good practices and came prepared,” Hammonds said. “We’ve been doing a lot of blocking drills in practice this week and I think that’s what helped us out this week. We just came out and played as hard as we could and looked to keep it going.”
Quarterback Chase Rollins also scored two touchdowns for Rye Cove, which had no letdown after a 20-13 upset win over Castlewood last week.
Holston (1-4) received two touchdowns from Dakota Barlow, but the Cavaliers were hurt by four turnovers. The Cavs had more interceptions (three) than first downs (two) in the first half and had trouble against the Rye Cove line.
“[Rye Cove is] a senior-laden ballclub,” said Holston coach Jason Matlock. “I know this is a group they’ve been looking forward to for a couple of years. It shows. They’re strong and physical up front and didn’t make any mistakes. We did and that’s the difference in the ballgame.”
As for Rye Cove, Callaway’s club looks to continue the steady improvement.
The guys up front will be leading the way.
“They do a good job,” Callaway said. “I’m proud of them.”