By Zach Armstrong
DINWIDDIE, Va -- The Dinwiddie General football team finished their 2021 season with a 4-2. Although it continued their streak of winning seasons with their last losing record being in 2006, it wasn’t enough to get them into the playoffs.
Dinwiddie Football Coach Billy Mills responded to some questions sent by the Dinwiddie Monitor on his thoughts about the past season and what lies in store ahead for the Generals football team.
How does this season compare with past ones? I was disappointed because it did end our playoff streak at 13 in a row, because of the reduced season and reduced playoff field from 8 to 4 we knew we had to be pretty much undefeated. We slipped up game one and it was uphill from there. I was proud of their resilience, though bounced back with 4 straight wins with two big ones against Hopewell and Matoaca, and did go into game 6 with some hope of making it despite the odds but lost a tough one against Thomas Dale 19-14.
Turns out even if we had held on and won the TD game it wouldn't have been enough to make the playoffs with reduced field. I was very proud of them however, you can bet the young team will be back in the mix next fall. But our playoff string of 13 straight, 4 straight regional championships, and making it to at least the second round for 7 straight years came to an end.
What do you believe the teams strongest assets were this season that helped the generals secure a winning record? I was proud of our leadership, they had a lot to overcome and everything they had ever known with the exception of the six seconds between whistles was upended with Covid 19. From Zoom meetings, Zoom practices, to finally getting to workout in June, to going through the first fall of their football lives without football, and that was just to get to football season. They then had to try and navigate all the obstacles that preparing to play football offered up.
From the February weather which allowed us 7 outdoor practices before our first game, to the ice storms and no power, and finally get to game week and lose left tackle, starting TE during week. A lot to overcome but still were in the game and know that we should have won the game. Came back next week rewrote our offense to more of a throw first offense and rode that till the end. Proud of their resilience.
I was very pleased with our QB play in the second year of play. He led the team in rushing with 264 yards on 56 carries and 7 touchdowns. He also was 81-133 (61% completion rate) for 1224 yards, with 14 TDs and 4 interceptions. Also got an incredible year from wide receiver ranks led by Senior Cedric Drumgoole (Bridgewater commit) and Junior Kelmari Brown.
Cedric, a two time all region pick at WR and all state selection a year ago, led all WR with 37 receptions for 509 yards and 4 TDs. He stepped up in our biggest games, will miss him next year and Bridgewater is getting another great football player from Dinwiddie (last year they got RB and Region player of year and two way all state performer Robert Barlow).
Kelmari Brown had 26 receptions for 478 yards and 7 touchdowns with 4 of those coming in key games Hopewell and Matoaca. Our receiving corps was also made up of sophomore Christian Drumgoole (little brother of Cedric) who had 5 catches for 78 yards and a touchdown, and Qion Brown (Christopher Newport Commit) who had 3 catches for 76 yards and two touchdowns.
Add to this our 6'6" 235 TE/WR Kahlil Hazelwood (offer from ODU) and a few promising young players this group should be just as strong or stronger next year.
I’m also proud of our Defense which started 4 sophomores, 1 freshmen, 3 juniors, and 3 seniors but performed well above their years and had us in every game. They gave up 12.5 points per game, we do lose three great defensive players in (Cedric Drumgoole, Cornell Lucess, and Ashton Murray) really believe this group can be really good next fall.
Who on the team will be graduating and who will be coming back? On defense we will be losing Christopher Parham who played LB and Safety, Oscar Cunningham who played OLB, and the starters I mentioned above. Chris and Oscar also played a lot of defense for us and Chris and Oscar both started some games.
Also coming back is our kicker Tyler Bell who had a great sophomore year, believe this young man can be special if he continues to develop. He was 21-23 on PATs and placed kickoffs perfectly all spring. Coming back defensively we have both defensive ends in Ben Pfister (26 tackles, 10 for a loss, and led team with 4.5 sacks) and Max Duch (24 tackles, 12 for a loss, with 3.5 sacks); also had great years from Sophomore LB
Will there be any promising new players for next season? We have some special young men coming up from our JV but we'll wait and see how they develop
What do you think the team could have improved on this season? Disappointed in our running game, I really thought this would be a strength for us but it never really developed.
Do you think those will be improved on for next season? Yes, that's the goal is to make our running game better for next fall so we'll be watching film and adjusting preparation to ensure that this, which is always our strength, comes back again. With all 5 OL returning and all RB plus a couple from JV that could be in the mix we'll find the answer.
Are there any competitors for next season who you’re most worried about defeating? August 27 GW at home, that's our first game next fall all I'm focused on right now. We have another tough schedule with the above mentioned next week we have Div 3 power Heritage (Lynchburg) Then D(5) power North Stafford after that, then our normal tough Central District Schedule. We have to take it one game at a time and improve from the first workout session on 4/26 to the finals in December. If we do that we'll have a great year.
Any other comments about reflecting on this past season? Just that I'm proud of my players for the toughness to not only take part in this adventure but succeed through it all. I'll always remember this group. Also big thanks to my AD Brad Adkins who made this crazy year as manageable as possible and was really a big help through it all. And thanks to Robbie and Dr. Weston for all the support and help through all the things that allowed this season to happen.