For the first time since 1970 two of Virginia's most storied programs will meet. Clintwood travels to Legion Field to take on the undefeated Gate City Blue Devils in a huge matchup between two of Southwest Virginia's top teams. The Blue Devils are 6-0 on the year, and have relied on their usual hard running bacfield and some timely passing. Nick Colobro, Aaron Roberts, Brandon Chapman, Nathan Shreve, and Jeremy Keller head the running attack, and Shawn Hutchins has done a fine job at QB. Hutchins has plenty of size (6'4 200) to see his receivers, and he's got some good ones in TE Zeke Spivey, and WR's Justin Seaver, Joe McMurray, and Mark Thacker. The OL isn't that big, but gets off the ball quick. J.D.Nickles (6'2 220) is the biggest Blue Devil lineman, but the rest are in the 180-200 lb. range, and good athletes. When you talk Gate City football though, the conversation always turns to defense as the Devils always field one of the areas top units, and this year is no exception. Chad Akers (6'1 290) anchors the line, and Colobro heads one of the best LB corps anywhere. Key for the Devils in this game is to not be too emotionally high, and the defense must try to contain Justin Hamilton from making the big plays.
The Greenwave looks to take their season past the Region D finals, and this game will be a good starting point. The Wave has the top running game in SWVA with Justin Hamilton, Jason Mullins, and BJ Davis. QB Dan Linkous has been solid, and likes to use Hamilton and Mullins out of the backfield as targets. The Wave OL has been outstanding, and is anchored by Brad and Barry Honaker, along with Nick Sluss, Jon McCowan, and Brett Short. TE's Jeremy Mullins and Danny Rife provide plenty of extra blocking as well. The Clintwood defense has been one of the area's best, with the Honakers stuffing the middle, and Hamilton preventing the big play from his safety position. Keys for the Wave here are to not get too caught up in the mystique of Legion Field, and make mistakes. Just stick with what has worked so far, because they have a decided size advantage up front, and that should pave the way for a big night rushing.
My call: The Wave starts their playoff drive right here. GC has a tough D, but I think the OL can open enough holes for Hamilton and Mullins to get good yardage. GC plays a fairly conservative offense, so this could be a fairly low scoring event, but the Wave should prevail....Clintwood 20 Gate City 13
The Powell Valley Vikings take their 34 game winning streak into Wise to take on the ever improving Kelly Indians. PV survived a tough contest at Lebanon last week, and this will be tough as well. The Indians are at 4-3 and right in the playoff mix. The Indians offense has started to click the last few games, and a host of runners, including Gabe Barnette, Bobby Ramey, Logan Williams, Shannon Hall, and Matt Collins have all made big contributions. QB Tommy Asbury is a threat to run also and does a good job when he has to pass. Adam Dotson, and Hall are his favorite receivers. The Indians OL has come a long way in the last few weeks, and is anchored by OT Ross Clisso (6'1 240) along with Nick Mullins and Adam Wharton. The Kelly defense has been there all year with the exception of one game against The Cove. Aubry Barnette (5'10 270) provides the beef up front with Jon Rolen leading the way at DE. Barnette anchors the LB's, and Matt Collins, Denver Short, and Robbie Stinson lead the secondary. Key for Kelly in this game is DEFENSE. They can't allow PV to get an early lead, and have to play catch up. If the defense can pick up a couple of turnovers, it will get interesting .
The Vikings have turned to the passing game in crucial moments the last couple of games, and it's paid off. QB JT Wells has been spectacular, and Justin McAfee, Travis Maddux, and Michael Stidham have been a big help as they've hauled in just about everything. The PV ground game got a big boost last week with the return of FB Derrick Clark from an ankle injury suffered in game 3. The Vikings big OL was dominant in the 2nd half last week, and opened big holes for Josh Callahan and Clark. Doug Gibson provided the play of the night as he hustled to scoop up a fumble for a TD run. The PV defense was outstanding, and the front line of DT's Corey Davis & Kelvin Davis along with DE's Landry Boggs & Abe Quesenberry has been outstanding. The LB's are led by Stidham and Michael Stacy inside, and Maddux, and Jimmy Yonce outside. Corner Sheldon Adams is a future star, and Callahan is one of the area's best. Aaron Moses provides quality depth and Scott Williams is solid at safety. Keys for PV in this game are to not make turnovers that would give the Indians a short field to play on.
My call: The Vikings need to be careful here. The Indians have improved each week and are full of confidence. However, the Vikings have too much firepower for them at this stage, but....the gap is closing......Powell Valley 28 Kelly 12
Time is running out on the Blue Knight's playoff hopes. Coeburn is a disappointing 2-4 heading into this game, and are without star RB Jason Nixon who is out with an ankle injury. After Nixon left last week's game with Lee, the running game went with him. The Blue Knights have capable backs in Josh Hill, and Anthony Gray, but they miss Nixon's power. QB Brandon Hale is a good passer, and has fine receivers in Hale, Ryan Lawson, Tim Clay, and TE Justin Morgan. Josh Jackson anchors the OL The Blue Knight defense has played pretty well, but will miss Nixon at LB. DE Kendall Ward is one of the LPD's best. Key for Coeburn in this one is to find another source of offense. The talent is there to do it. Grundy comes in a 2-4 as well, and has been a bit of a disappointment. The Golden Wave lost QB Jon Dales, who was one of SWVA's best early in the season to injury. The Wave is huge on both sides of the line, but a tad slow from what I hear.
My call: The Blue Knight can win this one if they can muster some offense....trouble is that last week they failed miserably to do that after Nixon's injury.......Grundy 14 Coeburn 6
The Pound Wildcats are sitting atop the Region D D1 power ratings and look to solidify that spot as they host Haysi. Pound has gotten better as the season has went on, and even though standout RB Kevin Payne was lost to a minor ankle injury, Brett Collier stepped in with a 3 TD effort last week. QB Brandon Cantrell is one of the LPD's best, and has two of the LPD's best WR's in Adam Delforge and Jeff Martin. Derek Hubbard has anchored the OL from his guard position. Ryan Mullins (6'0 215) and Lucas Short (6'0 225) add beef from the tackle position. The Cat defense has been an aggressive unit that has forced a lot of turnovers on the year. Channing Shortt and Andrew Short provide size up front, and Hubbard roams the middle from his LB position. Key for Pound in this game is to make sure the ground game keeps going. The passing game will take care of itself, but if Payne is unable to go, Collier will need another effort like last week. The Haysi Tigers are fighting for their playoff lives. Two weeks ago they were pummled by Kelly, and even though they have one of the area's best coaches in James Colley, they are a little short on bodies this season.
My call: The Cats smell a Region D title on the horizon, and Rocky Baker isn't about to let them get complacent....Pound 35 Haysi 12
The Dawgs make a long hard trip over the mountain to play a 6-1 Harlan team. Last week, the Dawgs played their hearts out before losing a tight one to AAAA Daniel Boone, TN. Even though the Dawgs have had a few defections, the offense came to life last week. QB Josh Mabe threw with some success to several receivers, and Derek Surrett and Steve Griffey had some success running the ball. The Dawgs have a good OL with Matt Skeen, Wade Belcher, Kevin Black, and others providing the blocking. The Dawgs defense has done a grea job all year, and has gotten good contributions from Nate Woodard, Jarmar Clark, and Surrett. Key for Appy here is to pick up where they left off last week with the offense. Harlan is a little suspect on defense, and the Dawgs should be able to move the ball.
My call: Dawgs need a win here desperately to make the playoffs. Harlan comes in at 6-1, while Appy is 1-6....their from 2 different worlds though, and the Dawgs tough schedule will pay off in this one....Appalachia 24 Harlan 21
The Burton Raiders are coming off of a week off as they travel to St. Paul. The Raiders needed it because they had been outscored 104-21 in the 2 previous games. The Raiders have plenty of speed to go on with Jaz Coleman, Jon Hunter, and Sam Keys. QB Matt Ward is one of the LPD's better QB's and has good targets with Hunter and Coleman. Dan Bohnert and Elijah Roop are solid on the OL, but the Burton defense has given up points and yards in huge chunks of late. Key for Burton here is to be able to slow down the Deacons offense, becuase the Raider's speed whould cause all sorts of problems for the St. Paul defense..
My call: Raiders back on track for a playoff spot....Burton 32 St. Paul 18