Greetings from Saturday morning after Round 2 of the VHSL football playoffs. I rolled back in after midnight from Lynchburg where Brookville whipped Northside 29-7 in a Region III Division 3 semifinal and Bees quarterback Kendall BeCraft went over the 9,000-yard mark in career passing yardage.
Just as I returned home around 12:30 a.m., an excited Bristol Herald Courier sports writer and proud John Battle High School alumnus Tim Hayes called me about the Trojans’ 37-14 drubbing of Giles in a Division 2 West Section second-round game. Even so, Hayes was somewhat surprised at the outcome, but not as much as I was. That’s why John Battle’s win is No. 1 today on my list of things that caught my eye last night.
Here we go:
1. Trojan horses
John Battle is known as a baseball power, but Friday night the Trojans laid the wood to a Giles team that had lost only to Christiansburg. Kudos to Battle coach Steve Wright, who led Marion to a Region IV Division 4 championship in 2001 with a physical team led by Marshall Doss.
Maybe I should have paid more attention to defense. Like Oregon, the Spartans had given up some big numbers this year to teams like Covington, Glenvar and Tazewell. It surprised me more that Battle held Giles’ single-wing to just 14 points.
Giles coach Jeff Williams didn’t sound stunned at all, based on this quote that he gave Johnny Wilson in a story in the Bluefield Daily-Telegraph:
“I’m not really shocked. I told my kids all week that this was a good football team we were playing, a solid football team that is very well balanced and extremely well coached by Steve Wright more than anything. They don’t have a bunch of superstars, but instead they have a bunch of kids who play hard and get after it. They played high on emotion tonight and they whipped out butts.”
John Battle will play next Friday at Fort Chiswell, another team that is building a postseason resume after many years of futility. Both teams are 11-1.
2. Bee craft
This just in. Brookville quarterback Kendall BeCraft is good.
Despite playing with a ruptured ligament in his right thumb that probably will require surgery after the season, BeCraft threw a long TD pass on the second play of the game as Brookville stretched its winning streak to 25.
BeCraft upped his career passing yardage total to 9,034. He now has 101 career TD passes. BeCraft trails only Phillip Sims of Oscar Smith (10,725) and Adam Morgan of Dinwiddie (9,152) on the VHSL career yardage list. Sims (119), Morgan (112) and Vic Hall of Gretna (105) are ahead of BeCraft on the TD pass list. BeCraft’s signature career play was a fourth-down completion on a sideline route that set up the game-winning field goal in Brookville’s victory last year over James Monroe in the Division 3 state final.
BeCraft does not have a Division I scholarship offer, and his plans next year are uncertain.
“I can’t figure out for the life of me why they say Kendall BeCraft can’t play major college football,” Northside coach Burt Torrence said after the game. His back-shoulder throws, time and time again, right on target, you can’t defend that. In 16 years of coaching, and that includes [former Cave Spring star] Josh Woodrum who I thought was a terrific player, he throws the ball better. If he’s got a thumb injury, he surely didn’t show it tonight.”
3. Blue streaks
Christiansburg has won the last three Region IV Division 4 championships. The Blue Demons could be a good pick to make it four.
After a 64-28 first-round win over Bassett, the Demons routed Hidden Valley 31-6 on Friday night to avenge a 28-0 loss to the Titans last month. Next, Christiansburg (8-4) goes to Salem (11-0).
Christiansburg was stuck in traffic en route to Dwight Bogle Stadium on Friday, but the Demons’ revamped offense is running wide open. Can a team that lost its first four River Ridge District games this year get it done next week?
4. Willing and Abell
Rockbridge County quarterback Porter Abell couldn’t lead his team to a regular-season victory over one of the programs his father, Scott, once coached. However, Abell evened the score Friday in the Wildcats’ 52-40 win over Liberty in Region III Division 3.
Scott Abell, who is now the head coach at Washington & Lee University, was the head coach at Liberty before he led Amherst County to a pair of Division 4 state titles. Amherst handed Rockbridge its first loss of the season 35-21 in September, when Porter Abell was battling a hamstring injury and painful leg cramps.
Friday, the Rockbridge QB ran for three TDs and passed for two as the Wildcats (9-2) earned a spot in the final next Friday at Brookville.
Porter Abell vs. Kendall BeCraft. It shouldn’t get better than that.
5. The James gang
I’m not sure who’s been busier this fall, Mountain Empire District coaches or their cardiologists. No league anywhere has featured more heart-stopping finishes than the MED, and Fort Chiswell and coach Stephen James head the list.
Earlier this year, Fort Chiswell trailed Galax by 14 points with less than two minutes to play. The Pioneers got a TD on a fourth-and-31 pass play, recovered an onside kick, scored a TD with no time remaining, then made a two-point conversion for a home victory.
Friday night, the Fort trailed Grayson County 28-18 in the second half before Brett Mabry hit Levi Mooney on a 9-yard TD pass and and a 32-28 victory.
That’s all for now. Got to work on some preseason basketball info. Next week’s VHSL football pairings, minus Saturday’s outcomes, are below:
Oscar Smith (11-1) at Ocean Lakes (12-0)
Varina (10-1) at L.C. Bird (11-0)
Oakton (8-4) at Westfield (12-0)
Colonial Forge (10-2) at C.D. Hylton (9-2)
Phoebus (12-0) at Lake Taylor (12-0)
Hanover (8-3) at Hopewell (8-3)
Yorktown (12-0) at Stone Bridge (12-0)
Mountain View (8-4) at North Stafford (10-1)
Courtland (8-4) at Smithfield (10-1)
Loudoun County (10-2) at Briar Woods (12-0)
Heritage (10-1) at Amherst County (9-2)
Christiansburg (8-4) at Salem (11-0)
Park View-South Hill (10-2) at James Monroe (10-1)
Kettle Run (10-2) at Monticello (10-2)
Rockbridge County (9-2) at Brookville (11-0)
Cave Spring (7-5) at Tunstall (7-3)
John Battle (11-1) at Fort Chiswell (11-1)
Stuarts Draft (8-4) at Wilson Memorial (11-1)
Central-Woodstock (10-2) at Essex (12-0)
King William (11-1) at Goochland (10-2)
J.I. Burton (9-3) at Honaker (11-1)
Clintwood (11-1) at George Wythe (10-1)
Altavista (10-2) at Franklin (12-0)
Central-Lunenburg (11-1) at Sussex Central (11-1)