Coming off of a successful 7-3 season in 2018, members of the Halifax County High School jayvee football team entered the 2019 season with their eyes on improving upon the success of the previous year.
They were able to do that by compiling a perfect 10-0 record, piling on the points on offense and giving up next to nothing on defense.
“We tried to build off of the success that we had the previous season,” head coach Thomas Turbeville said. “We had an idea when we started working during the summer that we had some guys that had a lot of talent.”
The mix of offensive power and a stout defense led the JV Comets to the perfect season. Halifax scored 39 points per game on offense and gave up only five points per game. The Halifax defense had four shutouts on the scoreboard during the 2019 season, and had five games where they didn’t allow a point on defense. In the 27-6 win over Bassett, an intercepted pass was returned for a touchdown so the defense was not charged with those points.
The JV Comets opened up their season with a 58-0 win over Nottoway, followed by another shutout win over border rival Person County 28-0. Halifax’s closest game of the season was a 10-6 victory over Park View in the third game of the season. They then defeated Jefferson Forest 39-8, followed by the 27-6 win over Bassett.
The Comets defense pitched another shutout over Martinsville 46-0, followed by two big wins over George Washington-Danville and Magna Vista by scores of 40-14 and 61-20. Their ninth win of the season came via forfeit to the winless Patrick County team, followed by a 44-0 throttling of Tunstall to cap off their undefeated season.
Sophomore safety and co-defensive player of the year Aziyah Easley was a pivotal piece of the JV defense in the 2019 season. Easley had five interceptions, a fumble recovery and 12 tackles in eight games played.
“We had a goal to go 10-0, and we had strived during the camps and we bonded real fast,” Easley said. “We always had our offenses back, if the offense didn’t score we knew that we could rely on the defense to get the ball back for them to score,” he added.
The offense was led by freshman quarterback Dakai Chandler and running backs Saeed Buster and Qualik Tucker. Wide receivers Christian Midkiff, Jahmarri Chandler and Kameron Roberts also contributed on the offensive side of the ball.
Buster was injured after six games but was one of the top rushers on the team with 338 yards and six touchdowns on the season. Tucker ran for 452 yards and seven touchdowns.
Chandler had a phenomenal year as quarterback, throwing for 784 yards, 12 touchdowns and only throwing two interceptions in nine games. Midkiff led all receivers with 188 receiving yards and three touchdowns.
The bond that formed between the players and their coaches extended out into the families as well.
Those families played a pivotal role by providing snacks or meals for the players and making the trips with the teams to away games, Turbeville said.
While they are not officially recognized as district champions, the coaches and parents made sure that they commemorated the season for the players.
“We got shirts made for them and one of the kids parents had the assistant head coach and defensive line coach for the Seattle Seahawks make videos for the kids and expressed his gratitude for what the kids were doing,” Turbeville said. “It was something special for the kids.”
Another aspect that may have gone unnoticed is the adversity that the team had to overcome. There were several injuries before and during the season that the team had to overcome. Buster broke his ankle in the middle of the season, and a potential starting fullback was injured before the season started and one of the starting safeties were injured and all were out for the season.
“One thing we tried to teach the kids was whether it was football or life, things aren’t always going to go perfect, you are going to have adversity but it is how you deal with that adversity that determines how successful you can be,” Turbeville said.
The coaches — also a big part of the success — had a way of getting through to the players while maintaining the discipline it takes to create great teams.
“We had wonderful JV coaches, they opened up the playbook a lot, they knew the talent and the speed that we had,” Easley said.
“All of my coaches have a desire to see these kids progress because all the guys on the JV coaching staff, with the exception of me, played for Halifax and grew up in Halifax so they have the love for the community and the kids and the relationships that they built here so that is something that allowed them to connect,” Turbeville said.
The players on the JV football team bought in to what Turbeville and his staff were teaching on the field. With the talent that the team had, plus the commitment from the coaches and parents, all of the pieces were there. The players went out and executed to the best of their ability, and the results showed in the undefeated season.
Easley said it best in four simple words, “Those are my brothers.”