Game previews: Christiansburg improves to 3-0, Gold Helmet battle this Friday in Eastern Montgomery vs. Auburn

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By Marty Gordon
NRVsports@ourvalley.org

The Golden Helmet is one of those trophies that novels are written about, or in the case of Auburn and Eastern Montgomery High School football, it’s one that brings out the fight in both schools. The symbolic trophy, which was started over 30 years ago to be given to the winner of the cross-county county has been controlled by Auburn the past few years, and Eastern Montgomery will try to stop the Eagles’ streak Friday night in Riner.

Auburn leads the series 10-9 after winning the past six contests against Eastern Montgomery, whose last win against the Eagles came in 2012.

Top five football poll: 1) Radford, 2) Blacksburg, 3) Pulaski, 4) Christiansburg, 5) Glenvar.

Game balls this week go to:

Auburn’s Carson East who scored a touchdown with 5:30 left in regulation to give his team a 28-21 win over Floyd;

Radford’s Kip Green who returned a kickoff for a touchdown in the win over Ft. Chiswell;

Defensive lineman Cole Shepherd who recovered a fumble in Eastern Montgomery’s loss to North Cross; and Blacksburg sophomore Parker Epperley who has silently become the leading tackler for the Bruins this season. He picks up where his older brother, Cole, left off after graduation.

The panel picks are heating up as we enter Week Four. Greg Holbrook and Leigh Anne Henderson are holding on to a slim lead over me. Randy Hall continues to fall, while Jon Coburn and Brad Epperley are sneaking up on the pack after 6-0 weeks.

Gretna at Radford (2-0)

Last week: Gretna had an off week but is coming off a 62-20 win over Tunstall and 46-6 over Brunswick.

Radford took to the road and came away with a 45-6 win over Ft. Chiswell. QB Zane Rupe rushed for two touchdowns and 88 yards on eight carries. Jarel Baylor also scored for the Bobcats, who held the Fort to 92 yards of total offense.
Game plan: Last season, Radford downed Gretna 20-7 en route to a state playoff push. This came on the heels of a 7-6 regular season win.  Radford’s Rupe now has 207 yards rushing on the season, while P.J. Prieoleau has 152.

Cole Simpson, who is in his sixth year, has led the Hawks to a 26-28 record and a 9-3 mark last season. Jordan Berger (6-1, 200) rushed for 556 yards and eight touchdowns in 2018. DeAndre Miller (5-8, 180) also rushed for over 500 yards with nine touchdowns. Tabron Mabins (5-9, 165) added 33 yards and nine touchdowns. He also threw for a 1,000yards and 11 touchdowns.

The offensive line is anchored by Nathan Waller (6-2, 225).

Last season, Gretna outscored its opponents 491-73. They had losses to Radford and Appomattox.

The nine-win season was a big turnaround after 3-7 two years ago.
Game time: 7 p.m.

Radio broadcast: 101.7 FM, 103.5FM and 1460 AM.

Staunton River (1-2) at Blacksburg (2-1)

Last week: Staunton River picked up its first win of the season with a 17-7 mark over Liberty. Aidan Brown rushed for 101 yards and a touchdown.

Blacksburg picked up a 38-18 victory over Amherst. QB Luke Goforth completed 10 of 19 passes for 167 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for another score. Brian Mitchell scored twice on an 85-yard kickoff return and another on a pass from Goforth.
Game plan: Blacksburg’s Goforth is now 36 of 72 for 564 yards passing on the season.

First-year head coach Shaun Leonard is in a rebuilding mode at SR with both the Winged-T and pistol formations. Leonard is no stranger to the program, having served as the team’s defensive coordinator last season.

Staunton River’s Jacob Kirtley (6-0, 180) was primed to rush for a lot of yards last year before he tore an ACL. He is now back from rehab and ready to pick up where he left off.  Jamelle Jones (6-0, 195) has moved over from offensive guard to tight end and provides a big target to throw to. Staunton River was 0-10 a year ago.

Game time: 7 p.m.

Radio broadcast: 93.1 and 97.1 FM.

Eastern Montgomery (0-3) at Auburn (2-1)

Last week: Auburn rallied with a 6-yard run by Carson East to down Floyd 28-21. East finished the night with 79 yards on 14 carries, while QB Payson Kelley ran 13 times for 59 yards and two TD’s.

Eastern Montgomery is still looking for its first win of the season after being shut out 36-0 last week against a very good North Cross team. The Mustangs were held to 122 yards of total offense.
Game time: 7 p.m.

Radio broadcast: None.

Christiansburg (3-0) at Rockbridge County (2-1)

Last week: Rockbridge rolled over Alleghany 48-7 as Quarterback Miller Jay threw three touchdown passes. Gage Shafer ran for two scores, and the Wildcats’ defense scored two TDs. Wildcats making one TD reception each were Luke Mayr, Jailik Lynch and Seamus Looney.

Christiansburg remained unbeaten with a decisive 48-14 win over Patrick County. As a team, the Blue Demons put up 306 yards rushing and 77 passing. Matson Stanley recorded eight carries for 106 yards with two touchdowns including a 61-yarder late in the game. Drew Lloyd also scored on a 46-yard jaunt. MJ Hunter was three of seven passing with 77 yards and a touchdown. Hunter also scored on a 61-yard run.
Game plan: Mark Poston is a familiar name to individuals in the NRV as his brother took Eastern Montgomery to a state title game over 10 years ago. Poston is in his fourth season at the school and has compiled a 12-20 mark. They finished 6-5 last season, losing in the Region 3C first round. The team returns seven offensive starters including QB Ty Ruley (5-10, 205). His favorite target is Jailik Lynch (5-10, 170) who had 53 receptions last season. Ruley threw for 2,570 yards and rushed for 525 yards in 2018.

Dillon Higgins (6-4, 315) anchors an offensive line that is big and physical. Igor Lakiecevic (5-11, 275) and Noah Lawhorne (5-9, 250) provide a lot of Beef for Ruley to run behind.

Rockbridge has outscored its opponents 136 t0 35 including a 62-0 win over Parry McCluer. Their lone loss came 28 to 26 to 5A William Fleming.

Driving directions: (Address: 143 Greenhouse Road, Lexington, 24450.) Take Interstate 81 North toward Roanoke/Salem, 73.9 miles to Exit 191 to I-64 West toward Charleston/Covington and Lexington, one mile to Exit 55, right towards Goshen and Lexington on US11, right onto Greenhouse Road.

Game time: 7 p.m.

Radio broadcast: 100.7 FM.