Football: Knightdale vs. Broughton (9/07/18)

  The Broughton Capitals took the field for their fourth contest on Friday, September 7th, 2018 under perfect late summer weather conditions and a roaring home crowd. As Broughton Head Coach Chris Dawson and his squad jogged confidently onto the field last Friday night, a familiar buzz of excitement could be heard throughout the stadium as kickoff ticked closer and closer. Fans of all ages, from all walks of life, chattered and cheered under the backdrop of clear sky tinged red with a brilliant sunset, as the Capitals suavely completed their pregame warmups and formalities. Their opponent for this week’s match, the Knightdale Knights, seemed fairly confident over its ability to stand up to the undefeated Capitals, strolling into downtown Raleigh with an impressive record of 2-1. However, as the overwhelming cheers of Broughton fans, particularly highlighted by the “Caps Crazies” student section, began to electrify the stadium, an uneasy feeling about the game ahead began to permeate the Knightdale sideline…

  However, this feeling of unease among the Knights did not last for very long. The Capitals came out to a rickety start, allowing for the Knights to take a 14-0 lead by the end of the first quarter while missing key opportunities to capitalize on the offensive and defensive side of the ball. As night began to creep over the Broughton stadium, the feeling of unease began to turn its tide on the Capitals sideline. What once was a familiar buzz of excitement that filled the stands of screaming Broughton fans, was now a growl of discontent so familiar to those who had been longtime members of the Capitals’ fanbase. As the second quarter began, a burning question hung high in the night air, crossing the minds of every anxious Broughton fan; was this the end of Broughton’s honeymoon? Fans could only hope that the party was not yet over. Fans began to pray that the team was not yet coming back down to Earth.

  Marching on bravely into the second quarter, the Capitals began to settle themselves into a sustainable rhythm on defense, stopping an aggressive Knightdale “RPO” (Run-Pass Option) attack many times. However, the team’s offensive woes began to show themselves as halftime edged closer. With troubles on the offensive line, the Capitals had difficulty blocking a versatile array of Knightdale linebackers, who easily penetrated the Broughton backfield and foiled various edge runs by RB Ryan Strickland, and shotgun pass attempts by QB Gordon Guest. By the end of the half, the game seemed to have found an overall theme, as the Knightdale lead continued to grow while Broughton offensive productivity remained stagnant.

  With the beginning of the third quarter, things finally began to look up for the Capitals, as the Knightdale offensive attack began to slow and stall thanks to the aggressive play calling of the Broughton defensive coaching staff. Beginning with various stops on defense that did wonders for the enthusiasm of the Broughton crowd, the Capitals began to resemble the brilliance of the Knightdale defense earlier in the first half. The Broughton defensive line began to clog the line of scrimmage effectively, allowing for Broughton linebackers to both penetrate the Knightdale backfield and play effective pass defense in both zone and man coverage. Things kept rolling for the Capitals as a running back broke off for a 60+ yard touchdown run midway through the third quarter. The stadium practically exploded with cheers as the Capitals late game rally began to come to fruition.

  However, all good things must soon come to an end, and this was certainly the case for the Capitals throughout the fourth quarter. As Knightdale gradually regained their composure to combat the late game antics of Broughton, the Knights’ coaching staff decided to secure the game by transitioning to a “ground and pound” run style offense. Eating up as much playing time as possible, Knightdale was able to wear Broughton’s defensive patience down to the wire. Although the Capitals’ defense had rallied its early game mess ups into a commendable performance, by the time the fourth quarter was winding down, the Broughton boys were understandably exhausted after spending the majority of the game on the field. Sadly, this only aided that Knights in raising the game score to 33-6 in their favor.

  Although Broughton’s outing against Knightdale on September 7th was much less cheerful than expected, the Capitals put up a courageous effort on both sides of the football. Rather than simply laying down and accepting defeat at the hands of the Knights, the Capitals held true to the principles instilled in the Broughton football program by Coach Dawson and his staff. They didn’t take their foot off the gas. They didn’t argue and bicker over team faults. They didn’t betray their commitment to the team and to each other. They didn’t complain about playing time or team strategy. And they sure as hell never accepted defeat until the final buzzer sounded and the officials left the field. If anything can be learned from this game, it is that while the Capitals may not always come out on top, this group of boys has two enduring qualities that are only found in winning football teams: grit and commitment. Coach Dawson and his team may have lost, but they lost with grace, and in then end, the lessons learned from this match may prove more valuable than one win ever could.