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Thursday, October 27, 2005

For love of the game

Dashing down the field...Princeton junior Brandon Croy runs away from the Capital defense in last Friday's football game at Hunnicutt Stadium. Despite the best efforts of Croy, this week's Pocahontas Coal Association/Bluefield Daily Telegraph player of the week, the Tigers lost a 31-24 heartbreaker in overtime. Princeton travels to Spring Valley Friday in a must-win for the Tigers. (Staff photo by John Nelson)
PRINCETON - Brandon Croy is the winner of this week's Pocahontas Coal Association/Bluefield Daily Telegraph Player of the Week Award. However, in listening to the Princeton junior fullback and linebacker, it could just as easily go to Keith Taylor, Jack Woods, Gary Lusk and the rest of the offensive line. Or the entire defensive line.

"Without that offensive line, we don't go anywhere, they're the rock of this team and I give all the credit in the world to them," Croy said. "All the points we've scored, all the games we've won, I give all the credit to them because without them, this offense would go nowhere.

He added: "The defensive line keeps the offensive linemen off the linebackers, which frees us to make tackles. So, again, without them, we wouldn't be able to go anywhere either."

Croy had a stellar game last Friday against Capital, running for 118 yards and a touchdown, recording a half-dozen tackles and even made his usual contributions on special teams. The only problem is that Princeton dropping a heartbreaking 31-24 decision to Capital in double-overtime.

"It was very disappointing, we played hard, but a couple of quick mistakes killed us,” said the 5-foot-10, 210-pound Croy. “When you're playing a good team like Capital, you have to have no mistakes and unfortunately we had a couple and they came out on top.

“They fought a good game and we played to the best of our abilities, but mistakes killed us, we beat ourselves.”

They can't afford to do that this week. Or next. Princeton (5-3), which has lost three of its last four games, is currently tied for the 16th and final Class AAA playoff spot. A trip to winless Spring Valley looms. The Tigers have been here before. They were 4-0 before traveling to then-winless George Washington. They returned with a loss.

"Our last two games are both must-win games. Even though Spring Valley is 0-8, I've looked at them on film and they don't look like an 0-8 team," Croy said. “They look tough and we're not underestimating them.

"We're not going to overlook this team. Right now they're our main focus and we're going to play them hard and then next week Riverside will be our focus.”

Croy, who is second on the Tigers with 638 yards rushing and seven touchdowns, has “stepped up” his efforts since the injuries to tailbacks William Gardner and Marcus Hayes has slowed them down. They duo is approaching full strength once again, but don't expect Croy to slow down a bit.

"I feel like I've stepped it up a little bit. All of us come out hard and we play the best we can every week, but I've stepped it up a little bit," Croy said. "Now that they're back, I'm still going to play at the same intensity that I've been playing at."

One year after the Tigers won just two games, Princeton head coach Ted Spadaro is looking for an inspired effort from his Tigers to keep their playoff hopes alive. He knows what he'll get from Croy.

"You can always depend on Brandon, he has picked it up on both sides of the ball,” Spadaro said. “He runs hard, blocks hard, and, on defense, he's our inside linebacker and he's a very emotional football player.

"Good football players step up and play in these games and I hope we have enough good ones that will step up like Brandon did last week and play hard for these next two games and win them.”

On a team with so many offensive weapons, it could be easy for Croy's contributions to be overlooked. That's not so for Spadaro, or Croy.

"Brandon is not going to say anything about himself, he's a team player and if someone else gets more ink then that's fine with him, that doesn't bother him any," Spadaro said. "He comes out there to play hard on both sides of the ball.

"He never gets a rest because he's on my special teams also so that will tell you what kind of character and player he is."

An offseason maniac in the weight room, Croy is a football-only athlete who can't wait to get back out on the field.

“I do love the game. I''ve played ever since I was six years old,” Croy said. “It's what I love to do, it's my life really.”


Honorable Mention:

Jarrod Burton, Tazewell: Recorded five tackles and 4.5 sacks for the Tazewell defense. He also had three assists, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. He also led an offensive line that helped the Bulldogs rush for 311 yards on the ground.

Caleb Jennings, Richlands: Ran for 137 yards and four touchdowns, and also scored on a touchdown pass in the Tornado's 44-0 win over Virginia High.

Ricky Cook, Giles: Ran for 117 yards and two touchdowns in the Spartans' 42-7 win over Floyd County.

Nathan Tanner, Giles: Rushed for 59 yards and tallied three touchdowns

Zack Counts, Haysi: Ran for 120 yards on four carries and a touchdown...also returned a punt 68 yards for another score.

Lance Compton, Haysi: Completed 7-of-9 passes for 152 yards and three touchdowns.

Andrew Robertson, James Monroe: Ran for 134 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries, leading the Mavericks to a 16-14 win over Point Pleasant.

Jason Jackson, James Monroe: Rushed for 71 yards and a touchdown for James Monroe.

Adam Havens, Montcalm: Passed for one touchdown and ran for two more, eclipsing the 1,000-yard rushing mark for a second straight season in Generals' 37-15 win against Twin Valley.

Tony Poff/C.J. Tiller, Montcalm: Both Generals' returned interceptions for touchdowns.

Adrian Thomas, Mount View: Threw for three touchdowns in the Knights' 52-35 win over has 18 scoring tosses on the season, a new school record.

Cordero High, Mount View: Rushed for a touchdown and returned an attempted onside kick for another score.

Jon Butler, Narrows: Rushed for 138 yards and a touchdown in Narrows' 33-7 win against Bland County

Brandon Vaught, Narrows: Ran for 136 yards and a touchdown.

Shayne Dillon, Pocahontas: Threw for 217 yards and two touchdowns in Pocahontas' 63-22 loss to Grayson County.

Mark Little, Pocahontas: Snagged five Dillon passes for 138 yards and two scores.

William Gardner, Princeton: Ran for 110 yards and a touchdown in 31-24 double overtime loss to Capital.

Matt Gallimore, Princeton: Led the Tigers with eight tackles, including six solo stops.

Justin McCracken, Richlands: Completed 12-of-15 passes for 143 yards and one touchdown, and also ran for 73 yards.

Defense, Richlands: Recorded its sixth shutout in eight games, holding the Bearcats to 123 yards of offense...have surrendered just six points all season.

David Saunders, Tazewell: Ran for 116 yards and a touchdown, and also recorded two sacks on defense in Bulldogs' 35-7 win over Marion.

Thomas Lewis, Tazewell: Rushed for 113 yards and a touchdown.

Wyatt Justus, Twin Valley: Returned a kick for a score and caught a touchdown pass in the Panthers' 37-15 loss to Montcalm.

Allen Carter, Bluefield: Rushed for two touchdowns in the Beavers' 55-27 loss to Herbert Hoover...also recovered a fumble.

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