Hall of Fame Game
Since Southampton Academy rejoined the ranks of 11-man football back in 2005, the Fuqua/SA match-up has been one of the more equal for both teams. Each has taken turns knocking the other from a playoff spot, and with the exception of 2007's 32-14 Fuqua victory, the games have been relatively close. Last year, Fuqua (3-0, 2-0 VCC) escaped Courtland with a 28-24 victory. Two years ago, the Raiders edged the Falcons 29-28.
It's been a tight rivalry. Expect more of the same this Friday night, as both teams bring undefeated records into the Virginia Commonwealth Conference contest.
Fuqua and Southampton (3-0, 1-0 VCC) have one common opponent thus far in Kenston Forest. To no surprise, the scores are quite similar. Fuqua defeated Kenston Forest 33-6 two weeks ago, with Southampton defeating the Kavaliers 35-16.
Last week, Southampton ran up over 503 total yards offensively, while holding Kenston Forest to under 200 yards.
Southampton's trademark grind-it-out offensive attack was working, as senior John Hinkle led the Raiders, but they've added another dimension. Quarterback Wesley Barnes and receiver Rashodd Maxey have proven that SA is no longer a one-dimensional offensive attack.
If speed is a dimension, then the Falcons will gladly be labeled one-dimensional. Junior quarterback Charles Williams has rushed for 622 yards and ten touchdowns thus far. Those numbers average out to 207.3 yards per game, and 23.9 yards per carry. Junior tailback Larry Haskins has also been impressive, though he has seemingly pedestrian-like numbers when compared to Williams. Haskins has rushed for 289 yards on 30 carries (9.63 yards per carry), and has six rushing touchdowns, a receiving score and a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
The Falcons haven't passed much this year, but there hasn't been a need. With the step up in competition this week, expect more out of receivers Carter Cunningham and Michael Marquez.
It will be Hall of Fame Night at Gilmer Field (note the special start time), as the school pays tribute to five former athletes. A couple of future inductees will take center stage at 7:30.
Another close one is in the offing.
Radio: WVHL 92.9 FM/www.wvhl.net
Fluvanna @ Buckingham 7 p.m. Buckingahm
The Buckingham County High School football team showed that it could score in different ways in last week's 47-13 victory over Prince Edward. The Knights scored on sustained drives, and by the big plays both on the ground and through the air.
Like it did in its first two games of the season, BCHS put together an offensive performance that was well-balanced with senior tailback Maurice Taylor leading the way with 253 yards and four touchdowns.
Taylor, the 2009 James River District offensive Player of the Year, certainly has shouldered his burden of the Knights' offense. He has rushed for 583 yards and eight touchdowns on 65 carries this season (including 30 touches in Buckingham's victory over Nelson), which is good enough for just under nine yards per carry.
The Knights (3-0) can score through the air as well. Buckingham junior quarterback Tarian Ayers was 7-12 passing for 130 yards and two touchdowns last week.
The Knights' defense seems to have not skipped a beat thus far this season. Buckingham is giving up just 10.67 points per game, while averaging 29 points offensively.
Fluvanna (1-1) is averaging 28.5 points per contest offensively, and is allowing 19 points per contest. The two teams share one common opponent in Prince Edward. The Flucos defeated the Eagles 36-14 in the first week of the season.
BCHS head coach Craig Gill said that Fluvanna is more of a power run team, reminiscent of the Buckingham teams of past years. Expect the Flucos to try to ground out the clock to tire the Buckingham defense. If the Knights can get a couple of early quick scores, they'll be on their way to their 16th consecutive regular-season victory, and fourth straight in the series.
Cumberland's murder's row of a non-district schedule continues this week. In fact, it gets bumped up a notch as the Dukes travel to defending Group A, Division 1 State Champion Altavista.
Despite moderate losses from last year's title team, the Colonels haven't skipped a beat in two games thus far, defeating Parry McCluer 62-6 in the opening week, and James River-Buchanan 29-13 last week. The Colonels have a high-powered offense that can move the ball down the field both on the ground and through the air.
Cumberland has struggled to get its running game going, which has forced the Dukes to become a one-dimensional team. That works for some offenses, but not for Cumberland, which relies on a mix of run and pass plays.
The Dukes fell behind Appomattox last week, clawed their way back into the game, before turnovers gave the Raiders enough of a break to go on to cruise to an easy victory.
In last year's game, the Dukes moved the ball relatively well on Altavista, but were unable to get the ball into the endzone despite getting into scoring position twice in the third quarter, enabling Altavista to pull away. CHS quarterback Devonte Booker and receiver Rashawn Sims had big nights. Booker was 11-16 passing for 162 yards and two touchdowns. Sims hauled in five catches for 153 yards.
The Dukes will need similar nights from those two, as well as other playmakers on the Cumberland squad. No early lead will be safe this week, and if Cumberland can keep turnovers to a minimum, and not hit the panic button, the last team that has the ball may be the victor on Friday night. The Dukes are looking for that one signature victory that will bring things together as they continue to gear up for James River District play. A lot would have to go right for the Dukes, but a victory over Altavista isn't that far-fetched.
Radio: WKDE 105.5/ www.kdcountry.com
Last week's 21-19 victory over NC Wesleyan answered and posed a number of questions for the Tigers as they moved to 2-0 on the young season. The Tigers' offense looked out of sorts in the second half, as junior quarterback Travis Lane was 20-37 passing on the afternoon for 192 yards and five interceptions.
Meanwhile, the H-SC defense held NC Wesleyan in check, and came up big with a touchdown-saving interception on the goal line by safety Bill Doody, and a touchdown scoring interception in the end zone by Will Riggenbach.
In the process, Hampden-Sydney proved that it has a defense that can win a game if needed. The offense struggled in the second half, though junior tailback Kirk Rohle did gain 114 rushing yards, while receivers Sean Cavanagh and Kyle Vance did haul in two early touchdown passes.
How much can Hampden-Sydney's struggles offensively be explained by NC Wesleyan's defense? Likely, a good amount. The Bishops did a good job of not allowing Lane to set up and throw down the field, and it is important to remember that NCW is the defending USA South champion.
Hampden-Sydney will be looking to iron out its offensive wrinkles this week against Sewanee. The Sewanee Tigers struggled last week at home to Washington & Lee 48-17 in their season-opener. W&L's defense held Sewanee to just 232 total yards on the afternoon (45 passing), and out of the end zone until the end of the third quarter, after the contest was well in-hand.
Hampden-Sydney won with relative ease at Sewanee last year. The first quarter will be key this Saturday. Should the H-SC Tigers put together good drives on their first three possessions, expect a similar score to last year's. If not, everyone could be in for another nail-biter.
Radio: WFLO 95.7 FM/www.hsc.edu/athletics