James Ford

James Ford was named Culpeper High School’s new head football coach in late-April after spending eight seasons at his alma mater, Prince Edward.

Allen Tuel was going about his daily routine as a VDOT employee when a friend who worked concessions for Culpeper High School football games, asked him if he could help out one Friday night due to a staffing shortage.

“I like to help people, so I didn’t give it a second thought,” Tuel said. “Here we are, 33 years later.”

Tuel helped his friend on that day in 1986 and, more than three decades later, he’s become a beacon of consistency to those who frequent the Blue Devils’ home football games.

“I enjoy meeting all the people who come to the games,” Tuel said when asked why he’s continued handing out food and drinks for so many years now. “I like talking and getting to know people in the community, and one thing that unites us all is sports.”

Tuel isn’t alone. He estimated that there are about 10 other volunteers who have anywhere between five and 20 years of service there.

“There are a lot of good people who pull together to serve the community at the games,” he said. “I think it gives us all a real sense of pride that we can provide people with whatever they came looking for, and we do it with a smile while making them feel like they’re part of a family.”

Culpeper athletic director Daniel Nobbs said Tuel embodies kindness and hospitality.

“Allen has touched so many Blue Devil lives,” he said. “He’s absolutely a staple of Culpeper athletics.”

Offense

Culpeper will be a spread, up-tempo team. Junior JoJo Crenshaw, whose 6-foot-5 frame helped lift the Blue Devils’ basketball team to the state quarterfinals last March, is battling 5-foot-8 senior Josh Plaster for the starting quarterback job. Seniors Jacob Douglass and Storm Martin and juniors Riley Harrison and Austin Lentz are all vying for carries at running back. Ford said whoever doesn’t win the starting QB job will play receiver, where he’ll be joined by returnee Armani Hoffman and two other athletic seniors in Dejour McCray and Cam Lacy. On the offensive line, junior Bracken Hibbert (6–3, 260) and seniors Joe Lombay, Karl Quiambao, Kam Buckhanan (6–1, 270) and Nathan Bryan are all back.

Defense

Culpeper will utilize multiple fronts on defense, as Ford said he wants to keep opponents guessing. Lombay and Buckhanan will line up at end, while junior Tyler Jefferies (6–3, 300) will be the nose tackle. Harrison returns at linebacker, where he started last season, while Lentz, junior Joe Holland and sophomore Quentin Butler round out the group. McCray and senior Osmond Reindorf-Malm will man the cornerback slots, with Hoffman and Lacy filling out the secondary at the safety positions.

Special Teams

Soccer player Gabe Barros returns to handle the kicking duties, while Holland will be the team’s punter. Ford said the return game is still up in the air.

The Bottom Line

Culpeper returns just five starters from a team that went 9–5 a season ago and moves up to rugged Class 4, but Ford’s new up-tempo attack will give the Blue Devils’ athletes plenty of opportunities to make plays in open spaces. They’ll need to be on their game early, as they face a tough nondistrict slate with games against Eastern View, Monticello and Spotsylvania.

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