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Thursday, November 28, 2019

REGION FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP WEEKEND

The final games of November crown region champions and send teams into state semifinal action and, most importantly, one gigantic step closer to the dream of a state championship becoming reality.

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GAME OF THE WEEK:

REGION 4B CHAMPIONSHIP: #7 Dinwiddie (7-5) at #4 Patrick Henry (9-3), 3:30pm airtime on 102.9 The Mater (102.9 FM/1430 AM), CLICK HERE to listen online, listen on mobile on @TuneIn Radio App on "Radiall"!

Very few people outside the communities of Dinwiddie and Hanover counties saw this matchup coming for a regional championship. It's the second time this century the teams have met in the postseason, Patrick Henry having won a tight game at Dinwiddie in the first round of the old Group AAA, Division 5 playoffs. The Generals, having survived a tough regular season schedule, have become road warriors, winning at #2 Monacan and in Culpeper last Friday at #3 Eastern View. The Patriots smashed #5 Spotsylvania at home to open the postseason, then played a brilliant game to limit possessions, shocking top-seeded, and undefeated, Louisa, 16-15 to earn the home game on Black Friday afternoon. The Patriots want a similar tempo to the one in Louisa last week. The Generals would like to speed things up, and will count on Robert Barlow, who scored seven touchdowns against Monacan two weeks ago, to lead the charge. Both teams have won differently in their two postseason wins. As usual, this game goes to the team with the best line play. The winner gets the Region 4A champion, either #1 Lake Taylor or #2 Churchland, on the road, next Saturday.


REGION 2A CHAMPIONSHIP: #2 King William (10-2) at #1 Thomas Jefferson (10-2), 7pm, Huguenot HS

The top seeds hold form here as the Cavaliers, who learned a lot about themselves in their loss to eventual VISAA Division I State Champion Benedictine late in the regular season, have been scoring at will during the postseason thus far. After going to their backup quarterback, Thomas Jefferson, down by three at the half last week with Greensville, exploded for 29 unanswered points in the second half to give the Vikings their tenth win of the season, the most in the history of a school whose football tradition dates back to the early days of the Great Depression. Whoever comes out of this game will be a fantastic representative from the #RVA to the Class 2 state semifinals. The winner here gets the winner of East Rockingham and top seeded Stuarts Draft in the semifinal round. If East Rockingham, the #6 seed, pulls off the upset, the winner of King William/Thomas Jefferson hosts the state semifinal. If Stuarts Draft wins, it's a road trip for the #Region2A champs.

REGION 6A CHAMPIONSHIP: #3 Thomas Dale (9-3) at #1 Oscar Smith (11-1), 7pm

The Tigers, who missed the Class 6 state playoffs last year, and that's not usual, have not lost since an opening night defeat to Highland Springs, who now watch the remainder of the 2019 postseason from the sidelines. The Springers also know Thomas Dale, having scrimmaged them in mid-August. In that scrimmage, Thomas Dale showed strength, and speed, which rivaled the four-time state champions. After beating Ocean Lakes, a 2018 Class 6 state semifinalist, 36-6 last week, yes, we believe the Knights are peaking at the right time. With some discipline, according to their head coach, Kevin Tucker, speaking on "RVA Locals Only" on ESPN Richmond Wednesday morning, as well as having all hands on deck, not being beset by injuries, this team can win on the road in Tidewater, again. It won't be easy, but the Knights, with a win, would be two victories away from matching their state championship team of one decade ago. If the Knights win, they hit the road again in the Class 6 State Semifinals to face either Colonial Forge or Massaponax, who square off for the Region 6B crown on Friday night.

REGION 5B CHAMPIONSHIP: #4 Varina (10-2) at #2 Manchester (11-1), 1pm (Live Tweet Coverage: @henricosports, @cfieldsports, heard on radio on AM 910):

The best thing that happened to Varina after their titanic victory over Highland Springs last week, ending the Springers' four-year run as Class 5 Champions, was to turn and find Manchester next on their schedule. A major possibility for a team who, after years of frustration, finally vanquishes their arch rival, is to let down in their next game. Fortunately for the Blue Devils, that won't happen, or, at least, it shouldn't. The Blue Devils saw a lead slip away opening night three months ago, falling to Manchester in double overtime. Varina head coach Stu Brown will tell you both of their losses in 2019 were games that the other team did not "win", the Blue Devils "lost". They've avenged one, now we'll see if they can do it again. This is the week where all the experience, even in "mop up" duty, last year during their Class 6 championship season will come in handy for Manchester. So will home field advantage. Watch the turnover battle in this one. If you win it, you'll win the game. Both teams are playing with a lot of confidence, and both want to jump out to big starts. The first quarter, in the end, may be as big as the fourth when all is said and done. The winner gets the survivor of the showdown of unbeatens in 5A with Maury and Salem squaring off.

REGION 3A CHAMPIONSHIP: #3 Phoebus (11-1) at #1 Hopewell (12-0), 2pm (Twitter Updates: @TheRVASportsNet)

Frankly, this was the matchup that should happen. Phoebus did have a better team than York and proved it in their semifinal win last week. Now, the Blue Devils have to beat a playoff pedigree program in order to punch their ticket to the Class 3 final four. Both teams love to find the end zone, so the defense that rises to the occasion will likely be on the winning side. With the Phantoms inevitably keying in on Treveyon Henderson, watch for other skilled players for Hopewell to make big plays and keep the drive alive. If Hopewell makes a championship run, there will be a game at some point where an opponent neutralizes Henderson (i.e., two touchdowns or less), forcing others to perform. This may be the week. Special teams play is huge for both teams here, too. The winner gets the winner of.....

REGION 3B CHAMPIONSHIP: #2 James Monroe (9-3) at #1 Goochland (11-1), 2pm (Twitter Updates: @TheRVASportsNet, heard on radio on FM 100.5)

We expected this to be the finals matchup, as these two squads were the best in the region this year. The Bulldogs, after making the Class 2 state finals last year, now look to return at the Class 3 level. In spite of scheduling snafus, and a change in their region quarterfinal opponent, head coach Alex Fruth has found a way to keep Goochland on the edge, playing their best ball right now. Their toughest test since their opening night loss to Lafayette, 33-0, is this game. The Yellow Jackets hold wins over two Region 4B playoff teams in Spotsylvania (when they still had their starting quarterback) and King George and have won seven straight, their last defeat being 35-7 to Eastern View back on October 4th. We expect the Bulldogs to get the job done, but if they lose the turnover battle, and if the Yellow Jackets can win time of possession, and things might be different.

REGION 1A CHAMPIONSHIP: #2 Rappahannock (9-3) at #1 Essex (11-1), Saturday, 1pm (Twitter Updates: @TheRVASportsNet)

Essex defeated Rappahannock in the regular season 48-0 just three weeks ago. The Trojans will be heavily favored in the rematch, with the winner getting the winner of Sussex Central and Riverheads from Region 1B in the Class 1 State Semifinals next Saturday.




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