7:30 p.m. Farmville
One thing the coaching staffs at Prince Edward and Cumberland won't have to do this week is come up with a way to get their squads hyped for this Friday. That was taken care of when the 2010 schedule was released.
In terms of bragging rights, a lot is already riding on this game. In terms of both teams entering Friday's game a blemish on their records, it's even more urgent. The first win is always the toughest, and it becomes even more difficult to get as the season wears on.
Cumberland was caught by William Campbell's switch to the Wing-T last week, and by a few playmakers who didn't participate in the previous week's scrimmage. A sophomore-heavy Prince Edward team made sophomore mistakes in its 36-14 loss at Fluvanna.
Both teams had some positives on respective nights that they'd just as soon forget. Cumberland quarterback Devonte Booker threw for 138 yards and two touchdowns in the Dukes' 42-14 loss to William Campbell.
Though Cumberland did have numerous first-game mistakes, turnovers wasn't one of them. The Dukes threw one interception and lost one fumble – nothing out of the ordinary for a first game.
Prince Edward saw an inspired performance from its defense in the first half of its 36-14 loss at Fluvanna last Friday. Despite giving up two quick scores (one coming on an interception returned for a touchdown), the Eagles trailed 15-7 at the break, before tiring in the third quarter.
At the start of the fourth quarter, the Eagles managed to put together long drive that ended in a touchdown.
This week, it will be a battle of youth on youth. Cumberland has experience at the skill-positions, while it is young along the line. Prince Edward, as mentioned before, is young almost everywhere.
In their 2009 meeting, PE ran the ball well, but several costly turnovers that were returned for scores – or led to quick Cumberland touchdowns – proved to be the Eagles' undoing. Keeping good care of the football will be key again as the Eagles look to establish a running game.
Prince Edward has home-field advantage, while Cumberland's advantage is having more experience. One of those factors will point out the eventual victor. The longer the game remains close, the more the momentum will swing toward Prince Edward. A couple of quick scores by the Dukes could help give Cumberland an easy night.
Radio: WVHL 92.9 FM
7 p.m. Gilmer Field
Most surprises over the stretch of a football season are not good. That wasn't the case for the Fuqua School football team last week in its season-opening 41-6 victory over Brunswick Academy.
In what was expected to be a much closer game, the Falcons had an easy time with their traditional season-opening rival. Brunswick Academy had no answer for Fuqua's speed – especially the two-pronged ground attack of junior quarterback Charles Williams and classmate tailback Larry Haskins.
Williams and Haskins scored on Fuqua's first two plays from scrimmage. Williams' didn't count due to an illegal block, but Haskins 41-yard touchdown scamper on the second play of the game set the tone for the night.
Fuqua should have almost the same speed advantage this week against Kenston Forest, which lost 56-0 to defending state champion Blessed Sacrament-Huguenot last week.
Still, the Falcons have to be wary of surprises. The bad kind this week. Most argue that scoreboard comparisons are a waste of time. In the Kavaliers' loss to BS-Huguenot, Kenston Forest turned the ball over numerous times. If the Kavaliers are able to hold onto the ball, how will Fuqua react to not getting off to a quick start?
Williams totaled 322 yards of total offense, including 224 on the ground on just seven carries, while Haskins had 135 yards and two touchdowns on nine totes. Expect to see another heavy dose of that tandem early-on, and if things go as they did last week, Fuqua should be able to cruise again in the second half.
Radio: WFLO 95.7 FM
7 p.m. Buckingham
The Buckingham County High School football team learned three valuable lessons in last Friday's 13-7 victory over Appomattox. Three good, and one bad. First, the good. Knights proved they can move the ball and score when needed. Second, the defense seems to be pretty solid, despite the loss of 16 seniors from the 2009 squad. Additionally, Buckingham only committed two penalties on the night for a total of 10 yards.
Now, the bad. Cramping issues hampered the Knights, who led the entire way against Appomattox, but it kept Buckingham from building a much larger lead. Appomattox, which was also hit pretty heavy by graduation, gained confidence as the game went on, and if not for two fourth-quarter BCHS interceptions, may have completed late come-from-behind victory.
Credit the BCHS defense, and their ability to play through pain and force Appomattox into passing situations on the cool, but muggy night. Still, with only about 25 players on the roster, conditioning is going to be key if the Knights want to continue what is now a string of 13-consecutive regular-season victories.
Junior quarterback Tarian Ayers dinged his ankle in the second quarter, and was noticeably hampered for the remainder of the contest. He was relegated to his quarterbacking duties for most of the evening, until late in the game, when he came up with the game-preserving interception on the BCHS 30-yard-line.
It's pretty safe to assume that the Knights, not only worked on conditioning over the week, but practiced proper hydration techniques.
Still, the Buckingham defense made some timely plays, and looked solid for most of the night. Appomattox's only score came two plays after Buckingham fumbled the ball on its own five-yard-line in the second quarter. The Knights gave up under 100 total yards on the night and eight first downs.
Buckingham's offense proved to be effective in its spread formation. Ayers completed 11 passes on 15 attempts for 121 yards, and senior tailback Maurice Taylor carried the ball 17 times for 118 yards. A balanced attack for a BCHS team that has a history of lining up in a “Power I” and controlling the line of scrimmage.
Nelson will play its first game of the season on Friday night, giving Buckingham big edge in live action. It's almost indisputable that a team makes its biggest strides between the first and second games of the season. Fumbles and penalties are usually cut drastically between weeks one and two. That, alone, could be enough to give the Knights a decided advantage.
1 p.m. Danville
The Hampden-Sydney football team will begin the 2010 football season hoping to pick up where it left off in the regular-season of 2009. The Tigers were undefeated last year over its ten-game regular-season, en route to its second ODAC title in three seasons. Gone is standout quarterback Corey Sedlar, and his 289.3 yards-per-game passing attack.
But reserve Travis Lane, a junior did see action in six games last year, and had respectable numbers, going 17-25 for 213 yards and two touchdowns, while completing 68 percent of his passes against one interception.
The Tigers will take a short bus ride to Danville to take on Averett for the first time. Averett, which was 0-10 in 2008, turned things around in a big way in 2009 by compiling a 7-3 record and finishing second in the USA South Conference.
Averett returns nine of their 14 USA South All-Conference selections from last year. The Tigers will have their work cut out for them.
Helping stabilize things for the Tigers this year is junior tailback Kirk Rohle, who gained 889 yards rushing and scored 12 touchdowns out of the Tigers' backfield. Additionally, he caught 49 passes for 300 yards and scored five touchdowns.
He led the Tigers in scoring last year with 104 points and a league-high 17 touchdowns. Joining the duo are receivers Sean Cavanagh and junior Kyle Vance, along with senior Anthony Mancini.
Hampden-Sydney's defense, led by senior defensive end, and 2009 ODAC Defensive Player of the Year, Will Riggenbach, led the nation in tackles for loss (9.64 per game), and returns much of what helped the Tigers claim the ODAC title in 2009.
Joining Riggenbach is First-team All-American safety Bill Doody, and Pre-season All-America picks senior linebacker Trevor Ikwild and senior cornerback Michael Ware.
The Tigers boasted the leagues's top-scoring offense and the stingiest scoring defense.
As an added incentive, Hampden-Sydney will be looking for program victory No. 500 this Saturday.
Radio: WFLO 95.7 FM