A changing of the guard occurred in 2005 when the King George Quarterback Club no longer assigned persons to run its chain gang for home football games. One door closed and another opened.

Johnnie Vann and Thomas Cocke became immediate replacements. Eric Pierce joined the group in 2007 and Steve Schual came aboard a year later. Dana Dunn is a part-time fill-in, but has been around for 10 seasons.

“We all starting working the chains when the Foxes played their home games at ‘The Pit,’ ” Vann recalled. “We agreed to also paint the field for every varsity home game and if needed, JV.”

The Pit was literally the pits, especially during inclement weather when Vann and Cocke sloshed their way through inches of mud. Relief came in 2012 when the Foxes’ new stadium opened with its artificial turf.

The only ritual the crew observes regularly prior to the national anthem is ensuring everyone has plenty of sunflower seeds. They are also grateful to the generous boosters club which provides hot dogs, burgers and a drink for their halftime meal.

“The funniest thing is when you see the gang all scrambling when these players are heading your way,” Vann said. “Drop and run. We can reset the sticks, but don’t want to have any broken bones set.”

OFFENSE

The Foxes appear to have a lot of positive assets: decent size, greater quickness and an offensive line that returns all five starters. Big things are expected from returning running back Javon Campbell and junior quarterback Charles Mutter, a transfer from Brooke Point who has drawn interest from William & Mary. “A lot to prove this year. He’s excited by his opportunity,” coach Vern Lunsford said, Gabe Aley will also see playing time in the backfield. Von Whiting is an enticing receiving threat. Coaches are anticipating a balanced attack. Linemen Terrell Staton and Samare Daniels are entering their fourth and third seasons, respectively, and figure to be team leaders as well.

DEFENSE

How tough is this unit? Linebacker Kyle Reviello played through his freshman season last fall despite suffering a broken hand. He and senior Darrian Hodsden should be among the team’s leading tacklers. The defensive line is deep with Tyler Thompson and Braedon Hannah among those expected to provide breathers for the Foxes’ starting four: J.J. Kidd, Mac Bitto, Mettress Murrill and Daniels. Chris Cox earned second-team All-Battlefield honors last season and headlines a young, but talented secondary, which should receive a boost with the addition of Campbell.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Edward Feeser and Ryan Kuberick are set to handle the place-kicking and punting chores, respectively. A variety of players are in line for return duties, including Campbell, Whiting, Cox and Gary Lane.

THE BOTTOM LINE

The Foxes gained valuable playing experience last season, including how to handle adversity. Thanks to regular attendance to off-season conditioning, the 2019 Foxes appear to be stronger and quicker than last year’s group. King George will need to bring its A game to every contest to achieve a winning campaign.

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