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The Knights’ return to prominence

When I came on the job as sports editor of The Farmville Herald in April 2016, everyone in the area was about five months removed from the seventh straight playoff season for Buckingham County High School’s varsity football team.

I had the honor of conducting an interview with legendary Knights Head Coach Craig Gill that spring, shortly after he had stepped down to focus on his health.

I’ve heard a lot about the greatness of the football program under his leadership, but sadly, he passed away that summer, and Buckingham football had to press on without him.

As is often the case in situations like these, the Knights suffered a brief downturn, going 2-8 in 2016. They showed definitive improvement in 2017, going 5-5, but they still missed the playoffs in a competitive region.

Seth Wilkerson was a longtime assistant to Gill during Gill’s two decades at the reins of the program, and Wilkerson returned to the Knights in 2018 as the new varsity head coach, seeming like the perfect person to carry on Buckingham’s legacy of success that he had helped Gill establish.

By all accounts, Wilkerson has, indeed, been that perfect person. With his focus on a strong defense and a potent run game, the Knights went 6-5 last year, including their first postseason game since Gill’s tenure.

Buckingham lost that playoff game 41-0 to host Glenvar High School, but it helped intensify the motivation burning inside the Knights players who wanted to return to the program’s glory days when it routinely played past the first round and more than once reached the latter stages of the state playoffs.

After Buckingham opened the 2019 season with a 27-6 defeat of perennial Virginia High School League (VHSL) Class 2 state title contender Appomattox County High School, it was clear this Knights team was something special and that the program was likely back on the map as a significant power in the state.

The rest of the season so far has only confirmed those positions. Buckingham’s lone loss so far came in overtime against Goochland High School, a talented VHSL Class 3 school. And from what I’ve heard, it’s possible the Knights might have done what was necessary to claim victory against the Bulldogs, even if it wasn’t officially acknowledged.

At any rate, Buckingham enters its regular season finale this Friday, Nov. 8, at Nottoway High School with an 8-1 overall record. As of last week, the Knights were ranked second in Region 2B behind only Stuarts Draft High School, which is now 9-0.

Buckingham has put itself in the conversation for best Class 2 team in the state.

I’m excited to be covering Buckingham amid this return to greatness, and I hope the team further confirms this return with a deep playoff run. Go Knights!

TITUS MOHLER is the sports editor for The Farmville Herald and Farmville Newsmedia LLC. His email address is Titus.Mohler@FarmvilleHerald.com.