Rock Hill rallies to replace Virgin

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 2, 1999

PEDRO – Tyler Virgin may be gone, but he’s not forgotten by his teammates.

Thursday, September 02, 1999

PEDRO – Tyler Virgin may be gone, but he’s not forgotten by his teammates. The Rock Hill Redmen senior running back suffered a season-ending knee injury in Saturday’s 13-12 win over Liberty, W.Va., thus snapping an 11-game losing streak and giving head coach Andy Hall his first career victory.

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Instead of being upbeat about his first win, Hall felt the dark cloud hovering overhead with the loss of Virgin.

The 5-foot-10, 180-pound Virgin, who benches 305 pounds and squats more than 405, will not only miss the season but his chance of attending West Point to play for Army.

"This kind of injury not only ended his high school career, but it’s put an end to his hopes of a career at West Point," said Hall. "But I told Tyler that everything happens for a reason. I don’t know what that is, but maybe down the road we’ll find out why."

Hall said the Rock Hill players took the news of Virgin’s injury extremely hard. However, Hall doesn’t think it will effect their play Friday when the Redmen open their home season against Vinton County.

"I think the kids are rallying behind him. He’s still going to go out for the coin toss and be around. This senior class is really close, so it’s going to be a ‘Win for Tyler’ sort of thing with them. the kids really feel for Tyler," Hall said.

Senior Richie Webb will shift from wide receiver to take Virgin’s place at tailback. Webb played running back last season. Kevin Dilley will remain the fullback.

"Richie has played back there and he has good speed. He’ll do a good job," said Hall. "And Kevin Dilley ran like a man possessed against Liberty."

The running game will be needed to offset the Vinton County ground game that racked up 393 yards in a 45-26 win over South Point. Adam Claar ran 24 times for 178 yards and three touchdowns while Phillip Lash had 97 yards on 15 attempts and Travis Bethel 62 yards on 12 tries.

Claar is a 5-8, 162-pound senior halfback, Lash a 5-9, 171 senior quarterback, and Bethel is a 6-0, 181 junior running back.

"They’re good. They traditionally win seven or eight games, have hard-nosed kids, come out and attack you, and they’ll play you as hard as they can go," said Hall.

The Vikings have only eight seniors which sounds like a very young team, but they were able to gain a lot of experience last season as coach Matt Queen played plenty of freshmen and sophomores. The Vikings return 20 starters from a 5-5 team.

Hall said Vinton County has always been a difficult game. The Vikings won 19-14 last season in the closing minutes.

"All our games with Vinton County have been tough and this one won’t be any different," said Hall.