It’s Darkside vs. The Streak, as the Hanover Rhinos open the 2017 season against the Southern Conference’s Virginia Beach Rhinos.
The new-look Hanover Rhinos will have to break Virginia Beach’s 11-game opening day winning streak if they want to start the season with a win of their own.
WHEN & WHERE: Saturday at 3:45 PM, Community College of Baltimore County Dundalk, 7200 Sollers Point Rd, Baltimore, Md., 21222-4649.
WEATHER FORECAST AT KICKOFF: 35 degrees and partly sunny. Precipitation: 0%. Humidity: 26%. Wind: 15 MPH West Northwest.
POPULATION: Virginia Beach: 437,994. Hanover: 15,365.
(HANOVER) RHINOS IN OPENERS: 2-3, including a 24-14 win over Franklin County to open last season.
LAST MEETING: The only ever meeting between the teams took place on 3/14/15 at Byrd Stadium Practice Field #1 to open the 2015 season. Two first half touchdowns, including one by Omar Grimes, gave the then Virginia Vengeance a 13-0 lead. Hanover pulled to 13-8 on a touchdown pass from Chase Scharf to Jay Collins, and Collins’ record-setting season was underway. Benttion Hendricks added the two-point conversion, but it was too little, too late for Hanover.
(HANOVER) RHINOS’ OUTLOOK: With all the position battles decided, the Hanover Rhinos head into 2017 with a healthy roster, a full offense and defense, and plentiful options on special teams.
The second-coming of the Chase Scharf era is set to begin. Hanover’s starting quarterback enters Saturday needing 47 passing yards to move ahead of Jordan Gardner for third in Rhinos’ history. Scharf is also chasing the team’s career QB rating record. The record is held by Bob Moore, who posted an 84.6 rating in his Hanover career. Scharf’s career rating stands at 84.2.
SCOUTING VIRGINIA BEACH: Everyone is excited to see Hanover’s Darkside Defense take the field for the first time. It will be a nice test for them, as Virginia Beach averaged 19.5 points per game last year. Dual-threat quarterback Phonta’ Williams is back for his fifth season with Virginia Beach. He piled up 1,226 passing yards and 239 rushing yards last season. Williams is 59 passing yards shy of 3,000 and 11 rushing yards short of 600 in a VA Beach uniform. However, Williams did fumble 17 times in 2016.
Leading tackler Eugene Davis returns at linebacker, as does monster defensive tackle Kraig Troupe, who recorded 7 tackles for loss in 7 games last season.
Virginia Beach won division titles in 2013 and 2014, the team’s first two season in the AFA.
Despite slipping to 4-6 in 2016, Virginia Beach has never lost their opening game in their 11-year franchise history.