Game Previews


Blacksburg ’89 state champions honored; Radford gains playoff berth

By Marty Gordon

The Blacksburg High School football team lost three of its first four games in 1989 but turned everything around to win a state title 19-6 over Courtland. This past weekend, members of the team returned to the area and were honored before the school’s contest with Pulaski. They took their bows and attended a cookout at retired-coach Dave Crist’s house.

Meanwhile on the field, Radford rolled over Alleghany putting up 70 points last week and locking down a playoff berth and probably home-field advantage throughout the postseason. The strong finish was all the more exciting since the team lost its top offensive and defensive weapons earlier this season.

Blacksburg lost to Pulaski, so they slide back into the number six spot of the points standings and will have to have some help to move into the top five for a possible home playoff game.

Christiansburg’s playoff hopes are still good, but they will have to pick up a win in one of its final three games to secure a postseason berth.

Top Five: 1) Radford, 2) Pulaski, 3) Narrows, 4) Blacksburg, 5) Christiansburg.

Game balls this week: Radford’s Alex Kanipe, who returned a fumble 43 yards for a touchdown.
Eastern Montgomery’s Benjamin Via, who returned a kickoff for a score in his team’s loss to Narrows.

Christiansburg Quarterback MJ Hunter, who rushed for 89 yards on 18 carries.

Points standings: Region 4D- 1) Salem 28.857, 2) E.C. Glass 28.571, 3) Pulaski 27.375, 4) Halifax 23.857, 5) G.W. Danville 23.714, 6) Blacksburg 22.50, 7) Jefferson Forest 21.571, 8) Amherst 16.429.

3D- 1) Lord Botetourt 26.6667, 2) Hidden Valley 24.0, Magna Vista 24.0, 4) Northside 23.333, 5) Christiansburg 20.0, 6) Bassett 19.857, 7) Abingdon 19.571, 8) William Bryd 15.333.

2C- 1) Radford 21.8333, 2) Appomattox 20.0, 3) Dan River 19.857, 4) Gretna 18.5, 5) Chatham 18.166, 6) Glenvar 17.5, 7) Floyd 17.14, 8) Patrick County 16.143.

1C- 1) Narrows 21.6667, 2) George Wythe 21.5, 3) Galax 20.666, 4) Auburn 16.0, 5) Covington 14.0, 6) Grayson County 11.577, 7) Parry McCluer 11.1667, 8) Craig County 9.667.

Games this week:

Radford (6-1) at Glenvar (4-3)

Last week:  Glenvar had to hold off a stubborn Floyd County team 52-35. Bradley Loder had 164 yards and two touchdowns on 32 carries.

Game plan: Glenvar returns nine starters on defense and looks to be the Bobcats’ stiffest challenge so far this season. The team was 10-2 last season with the losses (17-7) coming to Radford (17-&  and in the second round of theRegion 2C state playoffs. Aiden Wolk (6-0, 205) leads the team from under center. Running back Bradley Loder (5-9, 190) is a load to take down after rushing for 1,489 yards and 18 touchdowns last year, and Nick Sebolt (5-11, 170) had 27 catches last season for 606 yards. Jacob Crowder (6-3, 275) was all-region at the defensive end spot and Blake Custer (6-2, 230) had 49 solo tackles last season.

Radford’s Wesley-Brubeck now has 654 carries for 511 yards on the season.

Game time: 7 p.m.

Broadcast: 101.7 FM, 1460 AM.

Blacksburg (5-3) at Hidden Valley (5-3)

Last week: Hidden Valley had to rally after falling behind 16-0 to Christiansburg for a 37-24 win. Matt Strong did rush 17 times for 155 yards.

Blacksburg fell to Pulaski (12-3) in a defensive struggle that saw the Bruins lose their starting quarterback early in the first half.

Game plan: Hidden Valley might be the big surprise this season with a big win over Pulaski two weeks ago. Scott Weaver enters his 11th season at 48-63 with a 3-8 mark last year. Eight starters return on offense and nine on defense.  The key for Hidden Valley is the big turnaround by QB Grayson Carroll (6-3, 178) who has had a monstrous year. He has a big target in tight end Kelly Mitchell (6-4, 222).

Carroll passed for 1,936 yards in 2018. Offensive linemen Silas Fitzgerald (6-4, 293) and Ayden Causey (6-4, 281) provide some size up front. Running back Matt Strong (6-0, 183) has also had a year to remember and will be tough to keep under 100 yards per game.

The Blacksburg receiving corps has been top notch with Mohomand at 23 castchesfor 486 yards, Gholston 20-342 and Mitchell 17-283. The question is whether QB Luke Goforth will return after suffering an injury in the first half of the Pulaski game. On the year, he is 73 of 144 for 1,300 yards and 12 touchdowns.  Mitchell has also rushed 73 times for 652 yards.

Game time: 7 p.m.

Broadcast: Radio broadcast: 93.1 and 97.1 FM.

Patrick Henry (5-3) at Christiansburg (3-4)

Last week: PH dominated Cave Spring in a 42-7 contest.

Game plan: Alan Fiddler is in his ninth season at PH with a 54-33 mark including 6-5 last season. QB Roy Gunn (6-0, 190) leads an offense that has put up a lot of points this season. Jalen Cook (6-0, 200) is the team’s workhorse and rushed for over 100 yards against Christiansburg a year ago. The team does have some size at receiver with Gavin McCormick (6-3, 190) and Trace Pedigo (6-3, 180). Up front, B.J. Wilson (6-0, 300) controls the trenches along with Xavier Distefano (5-11, 265).

Gunn had a solid sophomore year at QB with 1,433 yards passing and 14 TD throws against just seven interceptions.

The defense is led by linebacker Jamerson Jones (5-10, 210), who had 88 solo tackles last season including 11 for loss and two interceptions.

Maston Stanley leads Christiansburg with 122 carries for 688 yards. Hunter is 30 of 66 for 483 yards.

Game time: 7 p.m.

Broadcast: 100.7 FM.

Auburn (4-4) at Galax (6-1)

Last week: Galax took a 45-14 win over George Wythe with Denver Brown rushing for 167 yards and three touchdowns on just seven carries. Cole Pickett was eight of 18 through the air for 202 yards.

Auburn took it on the chin in a 41-7 loss to North Cross. Carson East scored the team’s lone touchdown.

Game plan: Mark Dixon is a household name in the coaching ranks of southwest Virginia with his 10th year at Galax including a 11-3 record last season when they lost in the Class 1 state semis.  The Maroon Tide reached double-figure wins for the fourth year in a row and look like they will make it five. Running back Denver Brown (6-0, 205) returns after a junior year in which he rushed for 1,060 yards and 14 touchdowns. Cole Pickett (6-1, 200) takes over at QB after throwing part-time for 700 yards in 2018. The defense is led by Isaac Hawks (6-1, 215) and Lee Peoples (6-1, 245).

Game time: 7 p.m.

Broadcast: 98.1 FM.

Eastern Montgomery (1-6) at Covington (3-4)

Last week: Covington picked up a rare 47-14 win over Parry McCluer. Simon Gibson completed seven of 11 passes for 118 yards and four touchdowns. He also ran for another score. Shawn Smith rushed for 223 yards on 19 carries with two touchdowns. Zachary Ratliff had three touchdown receptions.

Eastern Montgomery ran into a buzz saw, losing 61-28 to Narrows.

Game plan: Chris Jones is in his fourth season as head coach, compiling a 21-13 record at Covington, which was 7-4 last season.  The Cougars return only three starters on offense but do have six on the defensive side of the ball. Last year, they finished in a three-way tie for the Pioneer regular season title after beating Eastern Montgomery 28-16. They reached the playoffs for the tenth year in a row. There are some pieces in place for another run including QB Simon Gibson (6-3, 180), who threw for 937 yards and 11 touchdowns as a sophomore. Shawn Smith (5-10, 205) does provide a strong presence out of the back field after rushing for 1,268 yards and 18 touchdowns.  There is some size up front with Tristan Hall (6-0, 210) and Hunter McLain (6-6, 300). Throw into the mix fullback Darian Williams (5-8, 255).

East Mont’s Dylan Owens now has 85 carries on the season for 603 yards.

Game time: 7 p.m.

Broadcast: None.