Published 4:30 pm Thursday, October 21, 2010
The Buckingham County High School football team is approaching a milestone of sorts this Friday when the Knights host Randolph-Henry for homecoming. Buckingham has won 19-consecutive regular-season games. A victory over the Statesmen would mark two years since the Knights last tasted defeat during a regular-season contest.
In a way, this could be Buckingham's toughest challenge to date, save its road victory over Manassas Park a few weeks ago that continues to help the Knights in the VHSL Region B, Division 2 Power Ratings.
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Randolph-Henry was idle last week, which keeps alive another streak of sorts. The Statesmen are the fifth team Buckingham has faced in a row that was idle on the week leading into the contest. That hasn't seemed to bother the Knights, who are outscoring their opponents 28.7-10.3 points per game thus far, which includes a 35-0 rout of district rival Cumberland last week.
This will be a tough game for Buckingham. The Statesmen will be battling for their playoff lives. A loss will eliminate them from the James River District championship picture, and most likely a spot in the Region B, Division 2 Playoffs.
Statistically, the two teams are quite similar. The Statesmen are averaging 30 points per contest, while giving up 15.1 ppg. Opponents' win percentage is similar as well. Randolph-Henry's opponents have a combined record of 17-31 (.354), while Buckingham's has a combined record of 16-30 (.347).
Last week, BCHS senior tailback Maurice Taylor ran for 301 yards and four touchdowns on 26 carries, and at times took over the game – especially after starting quarterback Tarian Ayers went down with an ankle injury. Cam Johnson filled in nicely for Ayers, and had a 34-yard touchdown pass to LA Briley in the third quarter, running out of the Power-I formation.
Randolph-Henry will have to prepare for two offenses this week. Either Buckingham's spread, which the Knights have used as their base offense all season, or the Power I, which has been a staple of the BCHS offense under head coach Craig Gill.
Randolph-Henry has been led this season by quarterback/tailback combo Jamie Dailey who is averaging 96 yards per game rushing, and will keep defenses honest by passing for a little over 80 yards per contest.
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With the expansion of the Virginia Independent Schools Football Association into four divisions for its playoffs, the regular-season can go back to being the regular-season. That's not to say that Friday's contest at Roanoke Catholic isn't important. The winner will have a good chance to earn a home game in the first round of the playoffs, but it's not a mid-October do-or-die game for either team.
Fuqua was humbled last week in a 39-0 loss to Blessed Sacrament-Huguenot. In a sense, the road trip to Roanoke might do the Falcons some good. Three of Fuqua's four biggest offensive points showings have come on the road (54-21 at Carlisle, 41-20 at Tidewater and 38-14 at Isle of Wight).
Last week, Charles Williams was held in check by the BS-Huguenot defense. He had 11 carries for 37 yards, while junior tailback Larry Haskins was held to just 44 yards on ten carries, as the Falcons suffered their first shutout loss since losing 34-0 to the Knights at home in 2008.
Despite the setback, Williams is still averaging 164.3 yards per game (15.3 yards per carry) on the season. He has 1150 yards on 75 carries. Haskins has 597 yards on 78 carries (85.3 ypg., and 7.7 ypc.).
Look for Fuqua to get its offense back on track, but it will be a tough game for the Falcons, as Roanoke Catholic's only loss came to Division II power Virginia Episcopal – a 45-12 setback on October 8.
The teams have two common opponents albeit they're from early-season opponents. The Celtics defeated Carlisle 42-32 on the first week of the season, and defeated Brunswick Academy 28-14 the next week. Fuqua defeated Brunswick Academy 41-7 in the first week, and won at Carlisle 54-21 in the third week.
The season may not be hanging in the balance for either team this week, but the carrot dangling in front of the victor of a home game in the VISFA Semifinal game will produce a playoff atmosphere. Expect a close and spirited game.
After a 35-0 loss to their rivals last week, the sound of orange bouncing balls may start to ring in the thoughts of the Cumberland Dukes. But not so fast. Despite their 1-6 record, the Dukes (0-1 in JRD play) are still in the mix for a playoff spot.
Of course, they'd need to win out, and they would need some help in the form of another team getting a victory over Buckingham. But given that this year is the most balanced lot of James River District teams in recent memory, don't count the Dukes out quite yet.
First thing's first. They need to win at Amelia. The Dukes have had Amelia's number of late, with five straight victories over the Raiders, including a 28-26 victory last year in Cumberland. In that stretch, CHS has out-scored Amelia 146-32.
In addition to the before-mentioned fact, the Raiders should be well-motivated. Currently, they are third in the Region A, Division 1 Power Points, despite falling to Central 14-6 last week.
The Dukes, even with all their early-season troubles against some of the premier teams in Group A, can still move the ball. Devonte Booker is averaging 200.4 yards per game passing. He's 80-151 (.530 completion percentage) for 1403 yards and 14 touchdowns on the season. His favorite target, Rashawn Sims has 36 catches for 842 yards and eight touchdowns.
Cumberland has been held scoreless in two straight games. Don't expect that trend to continue this week, but the Dukes will need to snap out of their doldrums right from the start, before Amelia can get an early lead.
The stats say that the Prince Edward County High School defense has proven to be a bright spot in what, otherwise, has been a long season. The Eagles' defense will get their chance to prove it this week as they travel to Brunswick County High School on Friday night.
The Bulldogs throttled Bluestone 73-7 last week, and in three games have outscored Southside District opponents 145-17. Brunswick scores points. A lot of them. Even in their two losses to Lafayette (28-20) and Hopewell (39-36), the Bulldogs still managed to put points on the board.
Brunswick is moving the ball mostly on the ground, averaging just under 260 yards per game, and a little over 80 yards through the air.
Quarterback Javonte Green leads the Bulldogs offensively with 13 rushing touchdowns and five passing scores. Also getting carries are Alan Smith and Daquan Drumgold.
The Eagles are struggling offensively, but have been able to come up with some plays from time-to-time. Ralick Lockett is averaging a little over five yards per carry, while Raheem Nash is averaging a little under seven yards per touch. Raheem Smith leads PE receivers with ten catches for 168 yards and two touchdowns.
Can the Eagles pull off an upset? It's possible. Brunswick has ten fumbles (six lost) on the season to go along with three interceptions, but the Eagles will have to be opportunistic on any Brunswick mistakes. Caused fumbles will have to be recovered, and the Eagles will have to keep their mistakes to a minimum. PE has eight fumbles offensively, but has lost seven of them, while PE quarterbacks have combined to throw six interceptions.
It will take a perfect game, and that still may not be enough, but points have come easily for Brunswick all season. If the Eagles can find a way to slow the Bulldogs down, PE might be able to frustrate their favored opponents into some mistakes.