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Grayson County QB Max Rodgers
Thursday, August 29, 2013
Coach: Harris Hart (ninth season)
Record at Bland County: 33-49
Last season: 0-10, 0-5 (did not make playoffs)
Returning offensive starters: 7
Returning defensive starters: 7
Players to watch: QB-DE Dylan Walker (6-0, 219, sr.), OL-DL Cody Morgan (6-4, 271, sr.), OL-DL Tyler Bridges (5-10, 250, sr.), FB-DB Aaron Rose (6-0, 184, jr.), RB-DB James Miller (5-8, 128, jr.), QB-DB Mason Christian (5-11, 144. jr.), RB-DB Tyler Faulkner (6-0, 165, jr.), RB-DB Andrew Pauley (5-10, 181, jr.), LB-FB Jacob Parker (5-10, 182, jr.), LB-OL Dakota Wright (5-10, 188, jr.)
2012 summary: The Bears essentially employed junior varsity roster against a varsity schedule, leading to a predictable slew of mismatches. Two numbers told the story: fewest points allowed in a game - 34, most points scored in a game - 14. The defense gave up a whopping 447 points. Conversely, the Bears were shut out twice and were limited to six points three other times.
Outlook: Bland County enters the season burdened by a 14-game losing streak. The good news is that team members are a year further into the weight lifting program and are a season more experienced in executing the playbook. Walker and Christian are both getting reps at QB. Christian has the better running ability and throwing arm. Walker started all 10 games last year and thus has the better grasp of the double-wing offense. Rose is the team's most dynamic athlete. His multiple skills will be put to heavy use. Making the Group 1A West playoffs will be harder with the addition of Fort Chiswell, Covington and Bath County. Bland County should settle for small steps, particularly in the rugged MED.
Coach: Stephen James (ninth season)
Record at Fort Chiswell: 52-36
Last season: 11-2, 5-0 (lost in Division 2 West Section third round)
Returning offensive starters: 8
Returning defensive starters: 8
Players to watch: C-DE Coleman Thomas (6-6, 302, sr.), QB-DB Brett Mabry (6-2, 180, sr.), OG-DT Jordan Crockett (6-4, 290, jr.), TE-LB Lane Edmonds (6-1, 205, sr.), OG-DT Brandon Freeman (6-0, 240, jr.), WR-CB Chase Rathbone (5-8, 175, sr.), HB-LB Dallas Ward (5-10, 195, jr.), FB-LB Joe Stoneman (6-1, 205, sr.), OT-DE Austin Widelo (6-3, 215, sr.), HB-CB Patrick Beidleman (5-10, 165, soph.)
2012 summary: The Pioneers had one of the great seasons in school history as Timesland male athlete of the year Daniel Hamm accounted for more than 2,600 all-purpose yards in 13 games. Fort Chiswell churned undefeated through the MED schedule while averaging 41.8 points per game. The result was a 10-game winning streak ending in a 15-14 playoff loss at home to John Battle.
Outlook: Fort Chiswell should spark a shakeup in the Group 1A West pecking order with their drop from Group 2A this season. Replacing Hamm is a challenge, but 16 other starting positions return led by marquee lineman Thomas. The Tennessee recruit is college bound after the fall semester. Crockett, Freeman and Widelo are big physical types in the mold of their more celebrated teammate. Mabry is a gutsy signal caller who orchestrated two hair-raising comebacks last year against Galax in the regular season and Grayson County (for the second time in five games) to stay alive in the playoffs. Beidleman and Ward will take over as Hamm's successors. This team is a lock for a postseason bid with a shot at advancing beyond the quarterfinals.
Coach: Mark Dixon (fourth season)
Record at Galax: 30-10
Last season: 7-5, 2-3 (lost in Division 1 West Section second round)
Returning offensive starters: 5
Returning defensive starters: 4
Players to watch: TB-S Steven Peoples (5-11, 200, sr.), RB-S Joseph Dixon (5-10, 175, jr.), LB-TE Caleb Spurlin (5-10, 185, soph.), DE-OT Ben Sanchez (6-0, 220, jr.), DT-OG Zamir Echeagaray (5-8, 205, soph.), OL-DT Cody Sharpe (6-1, 250, sr.), C-DL Bryant Cox (5-10, 245, sr.), DB Daniel Larrowe (5-9, 145, sr.), WR Darian Brown (6-2, 185, sr.), LB-P Brett Isom (5-10, 160, jr.).
2012 summary: The Maroon Tide was beset by injuries in its bid to return to the state final. RB Donte Peoples still managed 1,606 yards and 27 TDs in the regular season. Steven Peoples was also banged up, particularly at the end of the season as the Maroon Tide was running out of gas while losing two of its last three. The season concluded with a 42-14 playoff defeat at eventual state runner-up Honaker.
Outlook: Galax has the youngest team Dixon has put on the field since the former UVa All-American and NFL lineman came to town, but it also is potentially the most talented. Steven Peoples should be headed for a big season. Traditionally, carries have been divided among several tailbacks. Not this year. Peoples (22 TDs) could eclipse 20 carries per game. A crushing blocker, he'll play some fullback as well. Making things more interesting is a QB battle between junior Keyshawn Brown and freshman Carson Orton. The Tide has the players to make the Group 1A West playoffs but a more difficult schedule has toughened the task.
Coach: Brett McPherson (seventh season)
Record at Grayson County: 42-35
Last season: 9-3, 4-1 (lost in Division 2 West Section second round)
Returning offensive starters: 5
Returning defensive starters: 5
Players to watch: QB-FS Max Rodgers (6-3, 204, sr.), RB-ILB Jon Bilbrey (5-7, 151, sr.), RB-DB James Williams (5-10, 159, sr.), OG-DE Jordan Adams (6-0, 236, sr.), OG-DL Trey Parks (6-0, 247, sr.), RB-LB Clint Bourne (5-7, 228, jr.), RB-OLB Raymond Cox (5-10, 168, jr), WR-DB Isaac Osborne (5-9, 160, sr.), OL-DE Clay Anders (5-7, 169, sr.), RB-LB Logan Sikes (6-0, 163, jr.).
2012 summary: The Blue Devils had their moments, none bigger than taking out Gretna in the opening round of the playoffs. Similarly satisfying was a 32-28 victory over archrival Galax the last game of the regular season. In the end, Grayson County didn't have the answer for Timesland athlete of the year Daniel Hamm and Fort Chiswell, which won both meetings including a 32-28 postseason loss.
Outlook: Grayson County has another promising group, especially with the return of Rodgers, who passed for 1,859 yards and ran for 781 in 12 games. Older brother Mikey Rodgers graduated after catching 56 passes, so Max needs a new target. Bilbrey led the team in rushing with 670 yards. Williams missed all but 2 ½ games with two broken wrists and a torn ACL. When he hurt the knee in the last game he played, he still came back that night and rushed for 79 more yards before being shut down for the rest of the season. Adams and Parks will have a combined seven years of starting experience. An intriguing newcomer at receiver is basketball-baseball standout Ty Cannaday. Grayson County should make the Group 2A West playoffs.
Coach: Kelly Lowe (11th season)
Record at Narrows: 41-64
Last season: 1-9, 1-4 (did not make playoffs)
Returning offensive starters: 6
Returning defensive starters: 6
Players to watch: RB-DB Rodney Perdue (6-1, 175, sr.), QB-DB Joe Hall (6-2, 160, sr.), OL-DL Austin Lively (6-2, 212, sr.), OL-DL Jesse Perdue (6-4, 276, sr.), OL-LB James Payne (6-0, 179, jr.), WR-DB Gavin Givens (6-2, 185, sr.), TE-DL Terrance Martin (6-0, 250, sr.), RB-LB Brandon Stowers (5-9, 175, jr.), RB-LB Drew Stowers (5-9, 165, jr.), RB-LB Zachary Skeens (5-9, 155, sr.).
2012 summary: The Green Wave had one injury that influenced the entire season. Hall, the incumbent QB, broke his collarbone in the first game and missed the next four. In Game 6, he returned to help orchestrate Narrows' lone win, then broke the same bone before the game was over and missed the rest of the season. Perdue moved to take over under center, triggering a domino effect.
Outlook: Narrows has lost 19 of its last 20 games with the win coming against Bland County so there is no lack of motivation. The season opener is at home against Auburn, which has lost 39 games in a row. Hall is back to full health, Perdue returns where he belongs at RB, and the lineup has stabilized. A huge key will be doing a better job of stopping the run. If that doesn't turn around, then it's going to be another long season. Narrows hasn't made the playoffs since 2009, and the Green Wave needs to win two of its first three games. With a closing stretch of Fort Chiswell, Galax, Grayson County and Graham, some early strides need to be made. A Group 1A West playoff berth isn't likely.
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