Published 10:30 am Friday, November 4, 2011
Fuqua's chance at the postseason was assumed to be all but over last week, even before the Falcons defeated Chincoteague High School. However, it was determined otherwise by those who calculate the Virginia Independent Schools Football Association power points.
Barring some very unlikely upsets, Fuqua's Senior Night home contest against Hampton Christian will be for the last spot in the VISFA Division IV Playoffs. Think of this as a play-in game. The winner will have to travel to three-time defending champ Blessed Sacrament-Huguenot next Friday, but the loser will be able to get reacquainted with Friday night television. It doesn't matter if the Fuqua/Hampton Christian winner drew the winner of the LSU/Alabama game next Friday, it's still better than the prospect of watching Friday night television.
As stated above, Fuqua seniors will play their last contest at Gilmer Field this Friday night. That class includes the backfield tandem of Charles Williams and Larry Haskins. Williams is just 64 yards shy of 1,000 rushing yards for the season. He has 936 yards on 80 carries with 14 touchdowns. Haskins, meanwhile, has 690 yards on 82 touches and five touchdowns. Haskins and Williams will obviously need big nights, as HC comes in riding a three-game win streak.
The Crusaders are led by tailback Ty Smith. He played for Hampton Roads Academy last season, before moving down the street to HC. He had a big night at Fuqua last season when he was at HRA. This season, he has over 900 yards rushing, and is averaging 150 yards per game.
Quarterback Skylar Gray is 32-70 passing for 620 yards, seven touchdowns and three interceptions. His primary receiver Lawrence Williams has 13 catches for 480 yards and five touchdowns.
A lot will be on the line Friday night. Expect both teams to pull out all the stops, as a losing team will find out next week that Friday night television has somehow managed to get even worse since ABC canned Boy Meets World ten years ago.
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It sounds odd, and in some ways just not right, to say that Friday's game between the Cumberland Dukes and Nottoway Cougars is for a playoff berth. Both teams are 2-7 entering the regular-season finale. As of now, Cumberland is seeded No. 14 of 16 teams in the Group A, Division 1 East Region rankings, and may still make the playoffs – even with a loss.
Nottoway, at 2-7, is in on the outside looking in as the 17th team in the Group A, Division 2 East Region rankings. A win would likely get them into the field, with their likely reward being a short trip to either Amelia or Goochland.
Nottoway and Cumberland are 2-7 at this point of the season because, for one reason, the James River District is so tough. Nottoway and Cumberland are in the playoff picture at this point in the season because, for one reason, the James River District is so tough – maybe the best it has ever been. Amelia and Goochland are undefeated entering Friday night's contest at Goochland. Buckingham's only two losses are to Amelia and Goochland (additionally, the Knights started the season with a win over Dogwood District champ Appomattox). Central of Lunenburg's only three losses are to Amelia, Goochland and Buckingham.
The two teams are pretty basic in that what you see is what you get. Nottoway has size and uses that to its advantage. Cumberland has speed. The Dukes had a good defensive effort in last week's game against Amelia (a 35-0 loss). Not great, but not bad, considering that the Dukes' defense was on the field for most of the game.
Both teams look to be better than their respective records would indicate. The winner of this game could get enough momentum to make some noise in the playoffs.
It may not sound like a lot, but the Prince Edward County High School football team does have something to play for this Friday night when it travels to Southampton. With a win, the Eagles can secure the runner-up spot in the Southside District.
According to PECHS first-year head coach James Ford, it would be the first trophy won by a PECHS varsity football team.
“It's not the trophy we wanted, but it's a trophy we don't have, and that's a step in the right direction,” said Ford. “We've been in the playoffs a couple of times, but does not come with a trophy. A win would do so much for us. It would give our seniors a good way to go out, and it would give us a good start on the 2012 season. How we end the 2011 season does have a say in how we start 2012.”
Southampton started the season as the only SSD team with a winning record against non-district competition, but a loss to Greensville, and then to SSD champ Park View, eliminated the Indians from district title competition. Prince Edward's only in-district loss came to Park View in the Southside opener.
Prince Edward senior Ralick Lockett can go over the 700-yard mark in rushing with a 113-yard performance Friday night. He has four rushing touchdowns on the season, but has scored in about every way imaginable, with the exception of throwing for a score. Additionally, Lockett has shown the ability to take care of the football, as he has yet to fumble this season, much less turn the ball over by fumbling.
The game is a winnable one for the Eagles, despite the long road trip. Prince Edward has played Southampton pretty closely over the last two seasons, so a victory (and that elusive football trophy) is not as far-fetched as thought by many back in August.
Buckingham Knights head coach Craig Gill sounded a lot like Lou Holtz used to sound before his Notre Dame team would play Navy back in the 1990s, when asked earlier this week about Friday's opponent Bluestone. Like the Midshipmen and Irish of that time, this game should be a total mismatch. Like Holtz, Gill sounded convincing in his assessment of the 0-9 Barons.
He's telling the truth when he calls Bluestone one of, if not, the biggest team Buckingham has faced all season. They also have some athleticism at the quarterback and tailback spots. Even so, Buckingham should have little trouble Friday night.
What could be of concern? First, and most obvious, the fact that Buckingham is 7-2 and Bluestone is 0-9. It's easy to look past this game and into next week's playoff game. Second, the game is on the road in a stadium that's new to the Knights. Third, could the Knights still be stinging from last week's narrow loss to Goochland?
Admiral Ackbar will not be cautioning Buckingham as the Knights board the bus. Unless it's of their own making, it's not a trap. Still, they'll want to get this game over as quickly as possible as they start to look toward the playoffs. Having the luxury of resting starters in the second half would give the Knights confidence heading into next Friday, and it would save them some second-guessing as the second season starts.
Last year: Did not play
After taking a 63-49 win over Guilford College, the Tigers now prepare for the game they've been waiting for since November 7, 2010: the rematch with defending ODAC Champion Washington & Lee University. Last season, the Tigers were coming off of a 10-0 regular season and ODAC Championship in 2009; standing at 8-0 with hopes of a repeat, they saw the dream fade away as the Generals took a 38-27 victory in Lexington to seal a 6-0 conference mark.
Neither team has lost an ODAC match up since, setting the scene for the 2011 ODAC Championship battle at Lewis C. Everett Stadium. As the Tigers stand at 4-0 in ODAC play and the Generals at 5-0, the winner of Saturday's match up will earn bragging rights, the championship, and a guaranteed spot in the 2011 NCAA Playoffs.
These two teams have been dominant in the recent years, combining to win four of the last five ODAC Championships with each winning two. This Saturday will give the winner an edge and its third ODAC Championship in six years.
The last four match ups between these two offensive juggernauts have not disappointed, seeing a combined 72.3 points-per-game with just a 7.8 point margin of victory. This season, the two teams combine to average 82.3 points and 970.3 yards-per-game.
Saturday's match up takes place on Hall of Fame Weekend. This year's inductees are football and baseball standout Butch Beverly '73, lacrosse All-American Chamie Burroughs '99, football star receiver Jeff Woody '01, and Hampden-Sydney athletics icon Joe Bush.
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