It’s Saturday morning and the smoke has cleared from Week 10 in the Timesland high school football season. The fog and rain have set in. Good luck to North Cross fans today as they deal with elements in the Raiders’ final Old Dominion Conference game against Covenant.
Some outcomes with major implications occurred Friday night. Here are some of the teams that gained and lost the most ground in the race for playoff berths and seedings.
PATRICK HENRY – PH quarterback David Prince said in August he thought the Patriots would get it done this year in Rocky Mount. He was right. Patrick Henry smashed Franklin County 42-7 and the implications are huge. If PH can defeat William Fleming at home next week, the Patriots will qualify for the Northwest Region Division 6 playoffs for the first time since 2000. Moreover, Woodbridge’s loss Friday to Forest Park now gives Patrick Henry the inside track at the No. 5 spot in the region. If PH defeats Fleming next week and Woodbridge does not beat undefeated Stonewall Jackson, the Patriots will be No. 5. That could result in a first-round road game against a team PH was scheduled to play this season before a late change was made – Battlefield.
LORD BOTETOURT – Don’t look now, but Lord Botetourt can actually win the Blue Ridge District title outright next week under first-year coach Jamie Harless. The Cavaliers’ double-overtime victory at Alleghany, combined with Rockbridge County’s win over Northside and William Byrd’s loss to Staunton River has created a three-way tie at the top of the standings. Botetourt, Rockbridge and Northside all are 3-1 in the league. If LB defeats Northside at home next week and Byrd knocks off Rockbridge in Vinton then the Cavaliers would win the district title. Regardless, Botetourt will have a first-round game at home in the Region III Division 4 playoffs, most likely as the No. 3 seed. Even if LB loses next week and Jefferson Forest defeats Rustburg, the boys from Daleville probably will outpoint JF.
ROCKBRIDGE COUNTY – The Region III Division 3 playoff picture underwent another shuffling Friday night thanks to Rockbridge’s 7-3 win at Northside and Liberty’s loss at Harrisonburg. Right now the seeds are: 1) Brookville, 2) Robert E. Lee, 3) Rockbridge County, 4) Liberty, 5) tie between Northside and Fort Defiance. Those will be the six teams in the field. Brookville is guaranteed the No. 1 seed but all sorts of possibilities exist for the other spots heading into Week 11. With a win Friday at William Byrd, the Wildcats should at least secure the No. 3 seed and a home game unless Liberty upsets Amherst County. Rockbridge’s first-round opponent figures to be either Fort Defiance, Liberty or Northside. How about a rematch with Northside next week in Lexington? It’s possible.
FORT CHISWELL – The Pioneers’ victory over Graham not only moved them a win away from the Mountain Empire District title, it all but assured them of the No. 1 seeding in the Division 2 West Section. Seven of the eight previous opponents Fort Chiswell had played this season all won a game on Friday, giving the Pioneers 13 bonus points. Combined with a likely victory over winless Bland County next week, that should be enough for Fort to outpoint Wilson Memorial for the No. 1 spot in the region. While some lamented the loss of the regional playoff format last year, I like the 16-team, half-state concept. This year’s Division 2 West field will feature teams like Fort Chiswell, Wilson Memorial, Giles, Riverheads, Dan River, Gretna, Floyd County, Union, James River, Graham, Grayson County, John Battle, Virginia High and Stuarts Draft. Glenvar can clinch the No. 15 spot next week with a victory. Either Central-Wise, Grundy or Appomattox County figures to No. 16 seed. Consider this: at 9-1, Riverheads still probably would not get a first-round game at home.
BLACKSBURG – The Bruins still might have won by losing Friday night to Pulaski County. Blacksburg (2-7) and Bassett (3-6) are fighting for the No. 6 spot in Region IV Division 4. The Bruins hold it now. Blacksburg plays Christiansburg next week, while Bassett faces Magna Vista. If both teams lose, the race on the VHSL Rating Scale would be very close. A tie would not be out of the question. Blacksburg would hold the tiebreaker. In the last two weeks, Tazewell has become the Bruins’ biggest ally in their fight to reach the postseason. Victories by the previously winless Bulldogs over Carroll County and Abingdon have made a six-point difference between Blacksburg and Bassett on the Rating Scale that could prove to be the difference. Salem will be the No. 1 seed in the Region with Magna Vista likely No. 2. Hidden Valley, Christiansburg and Pulaski County should make up seeds 3-5 in some order.
HEADING IN REVERSE
WILLIAM BYRD – The Terriers have had a tough two weeks. First, they let a lead slip away in an overtime loss at home to Northside, losing star quarterback Zac Hill. Then Friday the Terriers lost at Staunton River. Even worse for Byrd, the other two contenders for the No. 6 spot in Region III Division 4 – Turner Ashby and Harrisonburg – both pulled out victories Friday night. The bottom line? Byrd probably needs to beat Rockbridge County at home Friday night to make the playoffs. Heritage and Amherst County will be the top two seeds in the region. Lord Botetourt and Jefferson Forest figure to be the next two. E.C. Glass, which is currently No. 5, could fall all the way out of the picture if Byrd and Turner Ashby both win and the Hilltoppers lose to Heritage.
MARTINSVILLE – Cars at Martinsville Speedway weren’t the only things going fast in Southside on Friday. The Bulldogs’ postseason chances were zooming away too. Even with just one victory, it appeared two weeks ago that Martinsville was a virtual lock for the No. 6 spot in Region IV Division 3. Now Tazewell – which had not won a game since 2010 before last Friday – has elbowed its way into the picture following wins over Carroll County and Abingdon. This one could get interesting. If Martinsville can beat Tunstall on Friday, the Bulldogs will get in unless Tazewell continues its run with a stunning upset of Richlands. Even then, it could still get close on the Rating Scale. Richlands will be the No. 1 seed. Cave Spring has the inside track at No. 2 with Tunstall likely No. 3, Marion likely No. 4 and Abingdon likely No. 5. Who will be No. 6? Give a slight nod to Tazewell.
BASSETT – The Bengals won a Friday but did not gain much on the Rating Scale as their victory over winless Patrick County generated little bump. Blame it on poor seasons suffered by several of Bassett’s opponents like Patrick, Martinsville and Franklin County; but the Bengals to date have earned just 35 bonus points on the Rating Scale compared to 61 for Blacksburg. Bassett’s narrow loss at home to Christiansburg also could come back to haunt the Bengals when the smoke clears. Stay tuned.
NORTHSIDE – The Vikings still can win the Blue Ridge District title, but now it will take a win at Lord Botetourt combined with a loss by Rockbridge County at William Byrd. Friday’s 7-3 loss at home to Rockbridge was Northside’s first in the Blue Ridge since 2008, but what did the Vikings really lose? Northside still is in the Region III Division 3 playoffs although it’s better than 50-50 that the Vikings will be on the road in the first round. Northside won the Region III title at Liberty in 2009 when the Vikings took the Division 3 state title so they know the way.
CHRISTIANSBURG – The Blue Demons have been a playoff lock since winning in overtime at Franklin County to start the season 5-0. That was Christiansburg’s last victory. Since then, the Demons have lost all four of their River Ridge District games, a stunning turnaround for a program that has won three straight Region IV titles and reached the Division 4 state final last year. It’s still possible that Christiansburg could be a No. 3 seed if both Hidden Valley and Pulaski County lose next week. Another possibility is a first-round regional game against Pulaski, the team that began the Blue Demons’ slide four weeks ago with a 17-14 victory.