High School Football Notebook: Can Central Lunenburg finish perfect?
Published 2:38 pm Monday, October 31, 2022
VICTORIA – With sole possession of first place in the James River District on the line, fans were treated to a defensive battle on the final Thursday of October, when Central Lunenburg hosted Buckingham County in Victoria.
Only two touchdowns were scored on the night, both by the host Chargers, as Lunenburg pitched a 14-0 shutout to improve to 9-0 overall on the campaign, 5-0 in district play.
For Central Lunenburg, it was their first shutout in the series in 22 years. During that last shutout in 2000, when they blanked the Knights 52-0, none of the players on this season’s current Central team were even born.
“Unbelievable. It was a dominant performance. They brought it,” said Lunenburg coach Will Thomas of his defense’s stellar performance, marking the sixth time on the year they’ve held the opposition to single-digits.
“Jamel Alexander, James Jenkins, Bam Jones, Connor Mattox, [Seth] Bishop… they all just played well. Coach [Wallace] Owen, our defensive coordinator, had a very good game-plan,” Thomas added. “Buckingham did a good job stopping our offense, too. We punted five or six times, and we haven’t punted five or six times total this year coming into this game.”
The Chargers benefited from a bad snap on a punt for Buckingham and received good field position, leading to their first score of the night. Lunenburg struck on a touchdown pass from Mattox to Bam Jones, who also had a rushing touchdown on a night when he ran for over 100 yards.
From there, the defenses seized control, bottling up high-powered offenses that came in averaging over 40 points per game.
“We ended up keeping them down on their end of the field. It was what I expected and a war,” Thomas indicated. “I think there were some sore people afterwards on both sides.”
Central Lunenburg sets sights on the playoffs
Now the Chargers set their sights towards the playoffs. In Region 1B, reigning six-time State Champ Riverheads (8-1) sits at the top seed presently with a power rating of 26.0, ahead of Lunenburg’s 24.67.
“I don’t think we’re going to take the No. 1 seed. It would take a Riverheads loss if we were to go 10-0, but hopefully we’ll get to play them at some point anyways. Even if we lose, we’d still likely be the No. 2 seed a bye because they’re only taking six teams. But to go 10-0 would be a huge deal and to win the district. I’ve been here 15 years and we haven’t won the district before,” noted Thomas, whose team closes out the regular season at Amelia (5-4).
“We have our work cut out for us because Amelia is going to be tough this week. Amelia gave Buckingham everything they wanted. They’ll come after you, so we still have a lot of work to do.”
Playoff implications at stake this week
Besides Lunenburg visiting Amelia, there are several games with playoff implications across the area as the 2022 regular season comes to a close.
Buckingham (7-2) hosts winless Cumberland and likely won’t get much of a power rating jump from their current 22.89 rating that has them placed fifth in Region 2B. Right behind them is Clarke County (6-3) at 22.78. A win by Clarke County over Page County (3-6) could jump them and drop Buckingham to sixth, although Stuarts Draft (7-2) sits in fourth at 23.1 and has no easy task of staying there with a trip to Riverheads.
Bottom line – the Knights likely need both Clarke and Stuarts Draft to lose to host a first round playoff game.
In Region 2A, Randolph-Henry (5-4) now needs to win its regular season finale and get some help to crack the eight-team field as their 17.0 rating sits behind Nottoway’s 17.78 and eighth place Bruton, who checks in with an 18.33 rating.
The Statesmen travel to JRD rival Prince Edward (4-5). Nottoway visits Mecklenburg County (2-7), while Bruton plays at York (6-3).