The Fuqua Falcons made the playoffs with a convincing victory over Hampton Christian last week. Their reward is that they get to travel to two-time defending champion Blessed Sacrament-Huguenot.
The Knights are the top seeds in the four-team playoff, and are the clear favorites to win their third state championship in a row. But the Falcons have momentum on their side, and are as healthy as they've been since early in the season.
The Knights are led in rushing by the combination of Jerome Robinson and Nathaniel Settle. Robinson has 738 yards and seven touchdowns on 72 carries, while Settle has 637 yards and eight touchdowns on 98 touches.
The Knights are a run-first team, but can throw when needed. Brian Clarke is 21-40 passing for three touchdowns and four interceptions.
To nobody's surprise, Charles Williams leads the Falcons in rushing. His 226 yards last week moved him over the 1,000 yard mark.
He has carried the ball 99 times for 1,162 yards and 18 touchdowns. Meanwhile, Larry Haskins has rushed 98 times for 821 yards and six touchdowns. One intangible may be the emboldened play of junior quarterback Carter Cunningham.
He's played the entire year with an injury in his non-throwing hand, and last week really started to run with confidence.
He has 107 yards on 18 carries, but his six-yard touchdown, which was only scored because of his head-first dive to the pylon, showed that he is starting to trust his healed hand. As a team, Fuqua is averaging 25.56 points per game, while giving up 213 ppg. defensively.
The Falcons felt if not for a brief letdown at the end of the first half, that resulted in two quick touchdowns by BS-H in about 30 seconds on the clock, the first meeting between the two teams may have been much closer.
Blessed Sacrament-Huguenot builds for the playoffs. The Knights were open last week, and should be well rested, but the Falcons have momentum. The question may be which is more valuable this time of year?
One thing that's not debatable is the advantage of having the home field. But for the Falcons, having to go on the road, sure beats having the home-field disadvantage of their season being over.
Last meeting: BS-Huguenot 28, Fuqua 12
It seems, well, odd that the Buckingham County Knights have posted their worst record in three seasons – a not too shabby 8-2 – and get to host a playoff game for the first time since 2002.
Under the old system, it's debatable if Buckingham would've gotten in (either way, we're going to miss seeing Gretna in November), so hooray for the new system.
It would've been a shame, as the Knights' only two sins would've been losses to the No.1 and No.3 teams in the state. But enough looking back. It's playoff time, which means that teams (not named Goochland and Nottoway, at least) will get to face other teams from far away places.
The Knights will host Stonewall Jackson-Quicksburg. The Generals (were you expecting a different nickname?), of the Shenandoah District, are 5-5 on the season, and enter Friday's contest looking to snap a two-game losing streak.
Jackson was defeated by Wilson Memorial last week 41-6. The Generals are only averaging 17.4 points per game, but are only allowing 20.5 ppg. defensively.
Buckingham had a much easier final week of the regular-season. The Knights rolled past Bluestone 54-0. It should get much tougher for the Knights this week. The Knights are averaging 46.9 points per game on offense, and are giving up 19.3 ppg. defensively.
As has been the case all year, how the game goes may be dictated by how fast the Knights start. Buckingham has had success on its opening drives all season.
With a ball-control team on the other side of the field, a three-possession advantage may be a comfortable cushion. Jackson will look to eat away as much clock as possible. If they're successful enough to push the matter deep into the third quarter, the Knights will have their hands full.
Last year: Did not play
Radio: WVHL 92.9 FM/www.wvhl.net
HAMPDEN-SYDNEY – For the 117th time since the rivalry began in 1893, Hampden-Sydney College and Randolph-Macon will meet in “The Game.” The Game is the Oldest Small School Rivalry in the South, and the 2011 ODAC Champion Tigers hold a 60-45-11 advantage in the series.
The Tigers have also been successful as of late, winning nine of the 11 meetings under head coach Marty Favret. Three of the games since 2000 have decided the ODAC Champion; the Tigers took the crown two times on Day Field in 2007 and 2009, but the Jackets returned the favor at Everett Stadium in 2008 with a 31-21 victory.
This year, the Game will not stand for a championship, but as always bragging rights are on the line. In addition, the Game is still very important for the Tigers in terms of post season positioning. It will also be the second year, and the first in Ashland, the two teams are playing for the Game Ball Trophy.
While the Tigers are coming off a huge 42-35 win over Washington & Lee, the Jackets are also in good spirits, having just downed the Eagles of Bridgewater College 51-36.
Last year: H-SC 31, R-MC 28
Radio: WFLO 95.7 FM