Week 9 of the high school football season is here. To christen the debut of the new Roanoke Times prep blog, here is a look at the five games involving Timesland teams that could have the biggest impact on district championships:
VHSL, VIS Points
NORTHSIDE (4-3, 2-0) at WILLIAM BYRD (4-3, 2-0)
Northside’s last loss in the Blue Ridge District was a 21-13 setback on their home field to Byrd in 2008. All the Vikings did from there was win the Division 3 state title the following season. Byrd nearly pulled the upset last year, losing 21-20 at Jim Hickam Field. Tonight’s game figures to be close too. Byrd QB Zac Hill and RB Simeon Horstmann have helped the Terriers score 135 points in their last three games. Northside has tightened its defense, beginning with a 16-14 loss to Salem. Both teams are in good shape right now for playoff berths in their respective divisions. However, Byrd might need two wins in its final three games to qualify in Region III Division 4. Hard to forecast at this point. Northside is fifth in Region III Division 3, but the Vikings are looking to move up and host a first-round game.
GILES (6-1, 2-0) at FLOYD COUNTY (5-2, 2-0)
Who doesn’t think the offenses will rule tonight in Floyd? Giles has rolled up 41, 49, 50, 56 and 49 points in their last five wins. However, the Spartans have given up 29, 30 and 28 points in three of those games. Meanwhile, Floyd County’s first two Three Rivers District games were a 41-37 victory over Glenvar and a 57-34 win over Eastern Montgomery. Floyd’s Dorian Harris (1,254 yards) and Giles’ Ian Mann (1,228) are ranked No. 3 and No. 4, respectively in Timesland in rushing yardage. Mann is averaging better than 10 yards per carry in Giles’ single-wing offense. Both of these teams easily will make the Division 2 West Section playoffs, but each still has Radford in its path en route to the Three Rivers title. A No. 4 seed in the West could await the winner of this game at season’s end.
PARRY McCLUER (5-3, 2-0) at JAMES RIVER (4-3, 1-0)
Last week’s James River-Covington game seemed like it might determine the Pioneer District champion, but Parry McCluer might have something to say about that because the Fighting Blues occupy the top spot by one-half game. How about the job Mike Craft has done in Buena Vista under unbelievably difficult circumstances when he took the job last summer. The 2012 season began with two shutout losses, but sophomore running back Ryheem Dawson is healthy now and at 6-2, 195 pounds looks like a prospect. James River, after missing the playoffs each of the past two years, looks like a shoo-in this time after last week’s 27-26 win over Covington. The Knights are 13th in the Division 2 West Section standings, which is about where they should finish.
GRAYSON COUNTY (6-1, 2-0) at FORT CHISWELL (6-1, 2-0)
Even though the winner tonight gets sole possession of first place in the Mountain Empire District, no one is handing the district title over. Fort Chiswell still has to visit Graham next week, while Grayson must go to rival Galax on the final Friday. The region is still buzzing about Fort Chiswell’s comeback two weeks ago for a 37-36 win over Galax when the Pioneers converted a fourth-and-31 pass for a touchdown, then recovered an onside kick and scored another TD and a two-point conversion with no time remaining. Nice contrast in this game. Fort Chiswell features the running of Daniel Hamm, while Grayson County uses the passing combo of brothers Max Rodgers and Mikey Rodgers.
FRANKLIN COUNTY (4-4, 1-1) at GEORGE WASHINGTON (6-2, 2-0)
Franklin County has to sweep George Washington and Patrick Henry and somehow hope that either GW loses to Halifax County or that the VHSL Rating Scale favors the boys from Rocky Mount when the smoke clears. Neither scenario looks likely. Last week’s double-overtime loss at Halifax might have doomed the Eagles. After making back-to-back trips to Roanoke for wins over Patrick Henry and William Fleming, GW gets both of its last two games at home. How many coaches have ever won a Group AAA district title in both football and basketball? GW’s Bobby Martin, who led the Eagles to the AAA basketball championship game in 2008, can accomplish the feat with two more wins.
BROOKVILLE (8-0, 4-0) at HERITAGE (7-0, 3-0)
This game is outside The Roanoke Times print circulation area, but it ranks as the biggest game in Virginia tonight. Is Brookville as good as last year’s team that won the Group AA Division 3 championship? We’ll see. The Bees have been held under 50 points just three times. How’s that hire of Brad Bradley working out for Heritage? In his first year, Bradley has Heritage unbeaten and ranked in the state. Do you think the fiery Bradley wouldn’t relish a possible Division 4 state semifinal at Salem? Plenty of work to be done. Fans, just sit back and enjoy two of the state’s top quarterbacks, Brookville’s Kendall BeCraft and Heritage’s JeVontae Parrish.