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Friday, November 15, 2019

First Round Region Previews

Time to hit the reset button! If you win five in a row from this point, you will hoist a state championship trophy come December 14th.


GAME OF THE WEEK: #5 Spotsylvania (7-3) at #4 Patrick Henry (7-3), 7pm (6:30pm airtime on 102.9 The Mater, 102.9 FM/1430 AM, CLICK HERE to listen online, or use @TuneIn app and listen on "Radiall"!

In their shocking 41-12 loss to King George last week, allowing the Foxes to make the postseason as the eighth and final seed in the region, Spotsylvania did not score an offensive touchdown. The Knights may or may not have the services of quarterback Jake Naccarato, injured early in last week's game. Spotsylvania is no stranger to first-year Patrick Henry head coach Ken Wakefield, coaching against in the regular season and postseason at Culpeper in each of the last two seasons. Expect a power running game and physicality from the Knights, and, watch out for their special teams in you're Patrick Henry. Both scores last week against King George came in the return game. The Knights certainly know about Patriots quarterback Alex Sikkar. The question will be, for Patrick Henry, who can have a big night on the ground to free Alex to be Alex? Tyler Newell and/or Cameron Toliver need a good performance to send Patrick Henry to the next round.

#8 King George (6-4) at #1 Louisa (10-0), 7:30pm: The Lions completed their third consecutive 10-0 regular season. That's 30 straight regular season wins. Last year, Louisa's season ended at the hands of Eastern View. They look to return to the Class 4 state final to take care of unfinished business. First up, however, is a King George team that, essentially already has a playoff win, having to beat Spotsylvania last Friday. Louisa owns a five-game winning streak on the Foxes, who last beat the Lions in 2013. 2019 was the first time in a long time these two teams did not meet in the regular season.

#7 Dinwiddie (5-5) at #2 Monacan (8-2), 7pm: The Chiefs, looking to grab the top seed from Louisa, ran into problems in their loss last week to Clover Hill. The absence of Josiah Nelson was one of them, and they'll need him back in case this game begins to show signs of the track meet the Generals were a part of at home last week in that crazy 46-44 loss to Thomas Dale. Monacan needs this game to be more defensive-minded, with a score in the 20s. In each of the last three postseason meetings in this series, the Generals have come out on top. Dinwiddie may be the best 5-5 team in the playoffs in Virginia.

#6 Huguenot (6-4) at #3 Eastern View (9-1), 7:30pm: The Falcons tied for sixth with Dinwiddie and won the VHSL tiebreaker. The bad news is they get a much longer bus ride than the Generals do, heading to Eastern View, the defending region champions who ended Chancellor's playoff hopes last week, and, in the process, starting a new winning streak. A loss at the hands of Spotsylvania two weeks ago ended the Cyclones' 44-game regular season winning streak. Eastern View looks to score early and often. The first quarter is very critical for Huguenot. They'll need a good defensive start, and maybe a turnover or two. If you're within seven in the fourth period, doubt could set in. Doubt is the underdog's best friend in a "one and done" situation.


#8 Henrico (6-4) at #1 Highland Springs (10-0), 7pm, Hermitage HS: They meet again. The Springers earned a pair of 40-6 wins last year, the second in the Class 5 state quarterfinal. The Warriors' quest to finally upend the Springers continues, and, with a week to rest, and two weeks to prepare for their nemesis, Henrico should be ready to give the Springers their best shot. This game might be closer than expected. This Highland Springs team has won differently this year, having to come from behind at Oscar Smith and Manchester, overcoming a turnover-filled performance in Stafford to defeat Colonial Forge. But it's the postseason, where Highland Springs has won 20 straight games, last losing to L.C. Bird, in the midst of their final championship run, back in 2014. The Springers will be ready.

#5 Clover Hill (8-2) at #4 Varina (8-2), 7pm: Of the road teams in this region, the Cavaliers seem to be best built to pull an upset. However, they lack playoff experience, having missed the postseason in each of the last eight years. Varina, still seeking that deep playoff run into December, does know how it is this time of year. This is another game where the first quarter is critical, and the longer the visiting team can be in the game, the more the pressure tilts to the home side. It's been exciting, and fascinating, to watch this Clover Hill team surprise many in their first season in this region. Now, however, they have to find a way to slow down the Region 5B Offensive Player of The Year in Isiah Page, and the rest of the Blue Devils.

#7 Douglas Freeman (7-3) at #2 Manchester (9-1), 7pm: Perhaps the upset least discussed during the final stretch of the regular season was the Rebels' 28-21 loss to Glen Allen last Friday. The Jaguars looked completely out of sorts the week before in a loss to Deep Run that ended their hopes for a postseason return. But they took their frustrations out on Douglas Freeman, who now back into the playoffs a bit against a Manchester team that cannot defend their state championship of a year ago, no longer in Class 6. Other than Loren Johnson, no one knows what it takes to run this marathon to the finish line like Tom Hall. The Lancers will, too, be ready.

#6 Prince George (7-3) at #3 Deep Run (10-0), 7pm: Two Coach of The Year contenders in the RVA collide, though neither won the Region 5B honor (that went to Loren Johnson). Bruce Carroll and his upset-minded Royals make the long trip around Richmond on I-295 to Exit 51 to see if they can be the first (and only) team to hang a loss on Chad Hornik's Wildcats, who seem to improve each week. First Team All-Region quarterback Bo Kite will be a lot to handle for the Royals defense, who couldn't contain Treveyon Henderson of Hopewell a few weeks back. Kite isn't Henderson fast, but he's deceptive, and strong. The closest team to beat Deep Run, Patrick Henry, who fell in the final minute in September to the Wildcats 17-14, at least neutralized Kite. Prince George can only hope to do the same.


#7 Cosby (5-5) at #2 Ocean Lakes (7-3), 7pm: The Titans enter the playoffs in a tough position, having lost four straight games. But their schedule down the stretch was among the toughest in the area, if not the state. If anything, it should have created a battle-tested, hungry team who want a chance to come back and atone for their worst game of the season, which was opening night at Thomas Dale. The Dolphins fell to eventual Class 6 state champion Manchester in the 2018 state semifinal, and want another chance to bounce Oscar Smith from their seemingly perennial perch as the best Class 6 team in Hampton Roads. The Tigers open with #8 Western Branch (4-6).

#6 Grassfield (5-5) at #3 Thomas Dale (7-3), 7pm: Man, if the Knights could ever, ever enjoy a few weeks of injury-free football and have as many hands on deck as possible, they have the talent to do what they did a decade ago: win the state championship. It's hard to believe it's been ten years since the magical postseason run with the late, great Vic Williams at the helm. If Chris Tyree can be a full-time, full-on contributor on offense and special teams, and the Knights can get some swagger back defensively after yielding a lot of points (and yards) to Dinwiddie last week, anything is possible. First things first, you fought tooth and nail to win last week and get a home game in the first round. Now, take advantage of it. The winners of these games will meet in a region semifinal November 22nd.


#8 Southampton (6-4) at #1 Hopewell (10-0), 7pm: Do we see the playoff Hopewell of 2017, which, after backing into the postseason, roared to a Class 3 State Championship, or the Blue Devils of 2018, who looked prime to go back to back before falling to I.C. Norcom in the second round? The seniors now were sophomores when they lifted the hardware two seasons ago, and they'd love to complete their Hopewell careers by reliving that moment. It begins with a solid performance in the opener, taking nothing for granted, and keeping their season-long momentum going. With 10-0 York as the #2 seed, plus Phoebus and Lafayette, both 9-1, this could be the most top heavy region in the Commonwealth. Be it Goochland, Heritage of Lynchburg or Lord Botetourt, the other Class 3 region top seeds have to look at this region and have reason for concern should they survive into December. With a win, the Blue Devils get the winner of Lafayette and I.C. Norcom.

#7 Petersburg (5-5) at #2 York (10-0), 7pm: The Falcons also go unbeaten, but a win over 0-10 Bruton cost them the top seed. So, they go to work here against a very talented Crimson Wave squad who has enough Central District battles behind them now that they will look to throw the kitchen sink at York. If you're Petersburg, solid defense, get a couple of turnovers and short fields, and when you do, score. The winner here gets the Phoebus/Tabb winner.


#8 Independence (2-8) at #1 Goochland (9-1), 7pm: Independence, a new school from Loudoun County, takes the place of original eighth seed Warren County, who dropped out due to concerns of not having enough players for a travel squad. Thus, the Bulldogs, who saw their regular season finale with Bluestone forfeited for the same reason, may go three weeks without a "credible" opponent. Head Coach Alex Fruth and his staff will have to get creative as to how they keep the edge any team needs to make a championship run. Having Devin McCray can't hurt, however.


#8 Brunswick (5-5) at #1 Thomas Jefferson (8-2), 7pm, Huguenot HS: Brunswick is this region's King George, having to upset Greensville in their regular season finale last Thursday to make the playoffs. They won 34-28. Now, after the historic nature of their regular season, Thomas Jefferson finds a red-hot team coming to face them under the lights at Huguenot High. This night could belong to Shamar Graham and the Viking offense. The best way to slow down a team on a high of, essentially, already winning a playoff game, is by winning the war at the line of scrimmage early and often, and using Graham to wear down their will, play by play. The last time Thomas Jefferson hit the postseason with this much hope was back in the consolidated era of the 1980's, then known as "JHW"(Jefferson-Huguenot-Wythe).

#7 Amelia (6-4) at #2 King William (7-3), 7pm: The beneficiary of a wild Week 11 in this region was King William, who, after beating eight-win rival King & Queen Central, jumped from fifth to second place, the difference between a road game off the bat and now two possible home games, and a third should the top seed fall. The Cavaliers likely learned a lot in their loss to Benedictine, easily handled King & Queen, and, if they play their game Friday, should advance here. But the Raiders are never an easy out. If this game is close in the fourth quarter, it'll be no surprise. Should the Cavs roll, it'll be a message to the rest of the teams surviving in Region 2A.

#6 John Marshall (6-4) at #3 Poquoson (6-4), 7pm, Poquoson Middle School: There has been a bit of uneven play for the Justices this year, but, as opposed to many previous years, many more ups than downs. Can the John Marshall who held Devin Flowers and Glen Allen to six points show up here defensively? Poquoson can score some points, thus, a lower scoring affair favors the Justices. John Marshall has won eight of their last thirteen games, enjoying their best regular season since going 7-3 in 2011.



#5 Nottoway at #4 Greensville


#8 Mathews at #1 Essex

#5 Colonial Beach at #4 Washington & Lee
#7 Northumberland at #2 Rappahannock
#6 West Point at #3 King & Queen Central

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