By HARRISON HAMLET
(STUART, Va.) – At first glance, it might seem an odd comparison.
Bassett’s football team, coached by Brandon Johnson, runs a spread offense and an aggressive, blitzing defense.
Patrick County’s football team, coached by David Morrison, prefers to ground-and-pound their way to victory behind a beefy offensive line and fundamental defense.
The two schools have sparked up a rivalry of late, one born on the softball diamond and basketball court that has moved onto the football field.
With both coaches in their third season, Morrison and Johnson noted that looking across the field on Friday night in Stuart was a bit “like looking in the mirror” as Bassett won the game 25-16, spoiling the 50th Homecoming celebration for Patrick County.
“Patrick County is hungry, they’re in the same spot as us,” Johnson said. “Coach Morrison took over the same time I did, and we both took over the same kind of program, trying to build a culture. His guys fought hard on homecoming.”
Both teams feature underclassmen at quarterback. Both programs feature a brutally impressive running back. Both programs want more success than they’ve had in recent years. Both seem on the road to that success already and Morrison echoed the sentiment of his counterpart.
“To some extent, it is like looking in the mirror,” Morrison said. “He’s doing an excellent job up there. I’d love to have the same amount of success he’s had up to this point, but I understand the parallels between the programs. He’s a great coach and is doing things the right way.”
Johnson and Morrison both commented after the game that they felt like both teams were winners after a beautifully played game that saw just two turnovers between the teams.
“I think you just saw a battle between two programs that are building a culture and trying to grind out victories right now,” Johnson said. “I’m just glad we came out on the right side of that tonight.”
With the Bengals sitting at 3-2 and the Cougars 2-3 after their clash on Friday, the future looks bright for both teams.
Both coaches also noted that one thing rose above football for them – training young men for the gridiron of life.
“That’s exactly what we’re both striving for – to rebuild these programs and do it the right way, basing it on integrity and character,” Morrison said. “The quality of kids we’re trying to produce is definitely more important than the X’s and the O’s, and I can see that on their sideline, as well.”
As the rivalry continues to grow in football, the seemingly innocuous connection of a 2017 hire date for two head coaches could lead to more comparisons down the road between two proud programs on the road to success.