Friday Night Football: Teams struggle with growing pains

Published 7:15 am Saturday, September 2, 2023

A couple things were made pretty clear with this edition of Friday night football. Some of the high school football teams in this area are rounding into midseason form, cleaning up mistakes and building chemistry. Others are developing, but just haven’t put everything together for a full four quarter performance yet. And then other teams are still trying to develop an identity. 

Friday, Sept. 1 featured its share of solid games, along with some blowouts. On the plus side, the temperature was much cooler in the second week. Instead of looking for fans, the audience scrambled for jackets as the night went on. You could also see that impact some of the teams on the field. Instead of going down with heat cramps after a short run, players were breaking 30, 40 and even 80-yard runs. And our first team was a prime example. 

Knights get in the win column 

Seth Wilkerson knew the first part of this year would be about development. The Buckingham Knights are traditionally considered one of the top contenders in both the James River District and Class 2 level. The 2022 squad finished 8-3 overall, achieving its fourth straight winning season. The one issue in all of that is the fact 13 seniors from last year’s team graduated, meaning some underclassmen have to fill those roles. A week after struggling in a 23-6 loss to Appomattox, the Knights made all the right plates en route to a 22-7 win this week over Madison County. 

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Playing in front of a home crowd, Buckingham exploded out of the gate. Within one minute, they drove down the field to put up the night’s first touchdown. Within six minutes, they did it again, adding another touchdown and a two-point conversion this time to make it 15-0 as time ran out in the first quarter. A third rushing touchdown made it 22-0 heading into halftime and the defense took over from there, only giving up a 60-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter. 

With the win, Buckingham improves to 1-1 on the season and prepares to face a challenge running throughout September. 

Buckingham will not have another home game until Oct. 6 against Nottoway. That means the Knights will be on the road four of the next four weeks, taking on William Campbell, Fluvanna, Lunenburg Central and Randolph-Henry. 

Up first for Buckingham will be William Campbell, which fell just short this week against Lunenburg. Central beat William Campbell 41-34. 

Prince Edward can’t fill roster spots

Last week, Prince Edward County fell short against Chatham 44-30. But the score wasn’t the big story coming out of the game. On Monday, Prince Edward Coach Larry White said there would be several players not able to suit up for this week’s matchup against Altavista, due to injuries sustained in that first matchup.

That meant bringing some underclassmen into the starting lineup. Unfortunately, Altavista took advantage of that inexperience, establishing control early before just dominating on all levels of the game. And no, that’s not an exaggeration. The final score was 73-6, with Altavista taking the win Friday. For any Prince Edward fan looking for good news, help is on the way. All the players should be back in the lineup next week, as the Eagles play host to Nelson County. 

Friday night football offers tale of two halves 

In Week One, we mentioned it was almost like two different Cumberland teams took the field. The first one seemed overwhelmed, giving up 33 points in the first half. But after halftime, Cumberland completely shut down William Campbell in the third quarter, while scoring 16 unanswered points. 

It was a very similar situation this week, as the Dukes took on Patty McCluer. The Fighting Blues jumped out to a 20-0 lead in the first quarter, sparked by a blocked punt. That quickly became 32-0 by halftime. And then, just like last week, the Cumberland defense started shutting them down. The Blues didn’t score in the third quarter, only adding points on the board thanks to a pick-6 interception late in the 4th. 

The biggest problem for Cumberland comes when looking at the statistics. They’ve given up 90 points in two games, mostly in the first half, while only putting up 24 overall on the board. It was expected there would be some growing pains, when you consider this is the first full offseason implementing Coach Josh Fleenor’s system, with a brand new offense. Now they’ll prepare for a bigger challenge in the week ahead. They’ll go on the road to face an Altavista team that tore apart Prince Edward. 

More Friday night football scores

In other games Friday night, it was Lunenburg Central continuing their winning ways, beating William Campbell 41-34. Also, James River held off Randolph-Henry, beating the Statesmen 34-16.