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Monday, September 20, 2021


This has been a strange season when it comes to polling for high school football. This is the first time in the history of our poll that a two-loss team is at the top. The explanations, and roads ahead for the ranked teams, are below as we expand our "Super 12 Poll" coverage to what has happened, why they're ranked, and where they're headed. NOTE: All games listed begin at 7pm Friday unless otherwise noted...

1) HIGHLAND SPRINGS (2-2, was #1, l. to Martinsburg (WV) 26-25, at Henrico)---It's very hard to bring the Springers down with the heir apparent behind them one of their two victories, and especially after losing to a perennial West Virginia state champion by just a point as a Hail Mary with no time remaining failed. The Springers likely will get their mojo in high gear again when they travel to face a Henrico team struggling mightily right now.

2) MANCHESTER (2-1, was #2, d. Powhatan 38-6, vs James River)---The Lancers took care of Powhatan rather handily, thanks in part to fumbles by the Indians. Their spring game was much closer. Now they face a Dominion District and Class 6, Region A rival (again) in James River, who is 3-1, but who got throttled by unbeaten Douglas Freeman in their biggest test so far.

3) VARINA (2-0, was #4, d. #9 Hermitage 28-21, at Mechanicsville)---Defeated another ranked team helps the Blue Devils move up one spot in the poll. What a gutsy onside kick call in the second half on the road to aid in their win against the Panthers. They will be favored going to Mechanicsville Friday, but October begins with two games in five days, hosting Hanover and going to #6 Hopewell to make good their August game.

4) THOMAS DALE (2-0, was #3, DNP, vs #8 Matoaca)---As of Monday night, all systems are go for the return of the Knights to action after a long COVID-19 pause cost them two games. They won't make good the Hermitage game, the Meadowbrook game is in serious jeopardy. Thus, wins are crucial for a team that may only play eight in the regular season versus ten for counterparts in Class 6, Region A. We'll talk Matoaca in a moment.

5)DINWIDDIE (1-0, was #5, DNP, at Colonial Heights)---The Generals have played once, way back on September 3rd. A missed game in August with GW-Danville that was scheduled to be played Tuesday night is now set for November 1st. It can't be pushed back again, as the regular season must end by November 6th. They'll need a good return performance as a trip to Matoaca is next, followed by Hopewell coming to face the Generals and the touchdown cannon.

6) HOPEWELL (2-0, was #6, d. Henrico 36-0, at Petersburg)---The Blue Devils are back to normal after a COVID pause with wins over I.C. Norcom and Henrico to their credit. They now look for a second road victory when they face the Crimson Wave.

7) DOUGLAS FREEMAN (4-0, was #7, at Mills Godwin)---The Mavericks used defense, a timely turnover, and the arm of Owen Fallen to earn a surprisingly easy 38-6 win at Atlee Friday. It's never easy beating the Eagles in this huge West End rivalry, and Axselle Stadium should be rocking Friday as Mills Godwin tries to finally earn the first victory for head coach P.J. Adams, while George Bland's Mavericks know they have a good thing going right now, and, should they run the table, the top seed in Class 5, Region C is certainly within reach.

8) MATOACA (3-0, bye week, at #4 Thomas Dale)---We believe Matoaca is for real. But for those who may not, here's their chance to plant their flag and prove they are among the best teams in the clogged Region 4B, where eleven teams are anywhere from 3-0 to 2-1, and only eight teams make the playoffs. The Dark Zone defense of the Knights must contain "Johnson and Johnson", as Cameron and Quentin have made life miserable for opposing defenses this season.

9) HERMITAGE (1-1, was #9, l. to #3 Varina 28-21, at Glen Allen)---No shame in losing to Varina. Now the Panthers take the shortest road trip in the Central Region down Staples Mill Road to face a Jaguar squad searching for answers after an 0-2 start and a COVID pause. If the Panthers want the top seed in Region 5C, they need to sweep the Colonial District, which would include a win over Douglas Freeman, and root for Varina to hand Highland Springs another loss come November 5th.

10) PATRICK HENRY (2-1, was #10, d. Deep Run 34-0, at Atlee)---The Patriots did what they were supposed to do last Friday, and their road sojourn continues this week inside the county, where all four teams now reside in Region 4B, including the Atlee Raiders, who simply failed to take advantage of first half scoring opportunities in their big loss to Douglas Freeman. It's Jayden Mines and Jordan Allen vs. Caleb Warren and Keith Green. Special teams may play a factor in this one.

11) ST. CHRISTOPHER'S (3-0, was #11, d. St. Alban's School 37-6, at Norfolk Academy, 6:30pm)---The Saints, looking to be the cream of the crop in private schools in our area, should be favored in their Friday trip to Norfolk. Another, bigger trip is on the horizon, as the Saints begin October at Benedictine, then there's Fork Union and Woodberry Forest before a date with Trinity Episcopal, who already defeated Benedictine, on October 23rd.

12) MIDLOTHIAN (2-0, was #12, DNP, at Monacan)---The Trojans hoped to secure their first win over L.C. Bird in 35 years last Friday, but the game was postponed at the last minute due to COVID concerns in Chester. The Skyhawks returned to practice Monday, and now the Trojans concern themselves with a Monacan team that overcame a shaky opening loss at Hanover to pick up two victories and put themselves in that top eleven plateau in Class 4, Region B. A win over the Trojans would vault Monacan back into the playoff conversation, while a Midlothian win keeps them chasing Douglas Freeman in Region 5C with Highland Springs and Hermitage all around them.

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