Monticello (6-0) at Louisa County (6-0), 7:30 p.m.
The basics: Well, these are two of the last unbeatens in the Jefferson District and now there can be only one. Monticello is coming off a big win over Western, its first over the Warriors since 2013. Louisa had little trouble handling Powhatan last week. The Jungle is going to be packed too. In addition to it being homecoming, Louisa is dedicating its field to coach Mark Fischer before the game. So emotions will be running high before hand with a slew of former Lions set to be in attendance. Both programs are operating with confidence and they’re both probably coming into this one facing their toughest challenge this year. On paper this looks like a great game. Hopefully it will play out the same way on the field.
Key matchup: Louisa’s secondary takes on quarterback Kevin Jarrell. The Lions have amazing depth with their front eight in the 3-5-3 and we saw what Brandon Smith can do against a truly athletic quarterback a few weeks ago against Albemarle. Stopping the run has been the front unit’s strength with Tony Thurston wreaking havoc on the defensive line. The linebacking corps is deep and athletic. And this secondary for Louisa has improved each week which was critical coming into the season after it lost Jordan Cherry to graduation. But can the secondary keep Jarrell from getting the ball to Austin Haverstrom and Trenton Johnson? The Mustangs have been playing their passing game close to the vest early but last week we got to see a lot more of it against Western. You’d imagine that Monticello would want to try and air things out a good bit in this one. Will Jarrell have enough time in the pocket to get the ball to them in space, or can he create something in space? The bottom line is that when you look at what limited success that Powhatan and Albemarle against the Lions, it came in the passing game. So Louisa knows that. Monticello knows that. It’s the obvious water cooler talk for ourselves, fans and players. But, sometimes when something seems so obvious something quirky happens. There’s going to be a lot of chess match back and forth between these coaching staffs. That only adds to the intrigue in this meeting. There’s so much footage of both teams out there, so many game details. Both these teams know exactly what the other is. So, now it’s about execution.
Who to watch: Malik Bell and Kevin Jarrell. They’re both quarterbacks. They’re both physical, bruising runners. They both spend time in the secondary. Now just how much time will they spend playing defense in this one? This matchup has “physical game” written all over it and neither offense can afford to lose their signal callers. But they also matter a lot on defense when they play over there. So keep an eye on the reps on that side of the ball and how it affects either of them on the other side.
The line: Louisa by 1. The home team gets the nod here, but here’s hoping that the result in this one lives up to the hype of the records both teams have built. Overtime would be fun to see.
Charlottesville (5-1) at Albemarle (2-4), 7 p.m.
The basics: Despite the disparity in records, this is a big test for the Black Knights. The Patriots beat Charlottesville in dramatic fashion a year ago with a late pick six, and surely Charlottesville hasn’t forgotten that frustration. But the Patriots got off the mat last week and now they’re playing more like how most expected they would in the preseason. J’Quan Anderson is suddenly read hot. But let’s not get caught up in just the last week, Charlottesville established its identity early and has kept hammering away at opposing defenses with Sabias Folley, Tre Durrett and Rakeem Davis while coming up with huge defensive stops and plays when they’ve needed them. This is a big test for Charlottesville, but they’re primed and ready.
Key matchup: Albemarle’s front seven takes on the triple option. The Patriots are solid on the back end of the defense, with Kris Anderson and Na’il Arnold, but the front seven has struggled at times against the ground game, though they managed to limit Orange’s Jaylen Alexander to 98 yards on the ground last week. The Black Knights’ ground game is a different animal though, with the option attacking with misdirection and crafty reads by Sam Neale at quarterback. Albemarle has its work cut out for it and they’re going to need to play responsibility, team football to lock up Charlottesville.
Who to watch: Charlottesville’s Jahsaan Bradford-Carter. Everyone knows the dynamic offensive weapons at play in this one, but if the Black Knights are going to keep things rolling, they’re going to need some stops. Bradford-Carter, the Black Knights’ leading tackler, is a big key to hemming in J’Quan Anderson, who caught fire last week against Orange County. Monticello had success by spying Anderson a couple of weeks ago. Can Charlottesville reach into its defensive bag og tricks and find a similar answer?
The line: Charlottesville by 1. This one may come down to who has the ball last but the Black Knights know the stakes for this one and they’re playing too efficiently on offense.
Orange County (3-3) at Western Albemarle (1-5), 7 p.m.
The basics: This one pits two teams desperately searching out a win, with the Hornets trying to get in potential playoff position in Region 5D while Western is just trying to end a five-game skid that’s derailed a program that isn’t used to losing two games in a row, much less five. The Warriors’ offense has sputtered, with the few times they managed to move the ball against Monticello seeming to come after the play had broken down and Derek Domecq made something happen with his feet by extending the play and finding someone downfield. Orange meanwhile has proven that they’re very potent offensively, but stopping opposing offenses has been a serious challenge. Can that defense step up, or do the Warriors find some life against the Hornets?
Key matchup: Orange’s ground game takes on Western’s front seven. The Warriors were pretty strong against Monticello’s rushing attack, forcing the Mustangs to take to the air. When the Hornets have been at their best, it has been because Jaylen Alexander got going on the ground. If Western can step up here again and the offense managed to get on track, it could turn the tide for the Warriors.
Who to watch: Orange’s Chris Washington. Guarding Orange’s receivers is a little bit of pick your poison. Focus on Darius Minor and Washington can torch you. Focus on Washington and Minor and here comes Ty Warren. Washington had the big day last week despite the loss to Albemarle with 83 yards on five catches.
The line: Orange County by 7. The Warriors could make this one tough with another strong defensive effort, but the opposition has struggled to slow down Orange all year.
Hampton Roads Academy (2-4) at STAB (3-2) (8-man), 7 p.m.
The basics: STAB dropped two straight games before heading into the bye week, now they jump back into their 8-man schedule, taking on a Hampton Roads Academy squad that has had some struggles this year, but boasts an athletic dual threat quarterback in Kahleef Jimmison. The 8-man game makes guys that can extend plays even more valuable and while the Saints have one of their own that can do that, Jimmison could be more dangerous in this format. STAB’s first experience in the 8-man game, a win over Greenbrier was a marathon shootout. Don’t necessarily look for similar results this time, expect the Saints to adjust.
Key matchup: Hampton Roads’ secondary takes on STAB’s Chase Emmert. The Saints’ offense is a challenge to match up against because Emmert can beat you with his legs or his arm. In that first eight-man game it was his legs, rushing for 172 yards. Containing him while also playing the kind of man coverage that the 8-man game demands is going to be tough.
Who to watch: STAB coach John Blake. After the Saints’ eight-man game against Greenbrier earlier this season, you could essentially hear the wheels spinning in his head as Blake talked about what he’d do in his next eight-man contest based on the lessons he’d learned. We’ll see what’s different Friday.
The line: STAB by 7. Hard to tell what’s going to happen in these eight-man games, but the Saints should get back on track here.
Brentsville District (0-6) at William Monroe (2-4), 7 p.m.
The basics: Look who suddenly has some momentum going up in Stanardsville. A bye week separated them, but the Dragons have won two straight and now welcome winless Brentsville to town looking to make it three in a row. The Dragons have found a formula that works, with Jaekwon Wayne carrying the ball with Zach Miller and Cameron Hayes chipping in on the ground to form a three-headed monster. Throw in Jordan Gray at receiver and Alex Kinsey becoming more efficient at quarterback (7-for-11 last week) and the offense is starting to really get moving.
Key matchup: Brentsville’s offense tries to solve the Dragons’ front seven. Brentsville has managed just under 12 points per game this year, with the bulk of that scoring coming in their last two games. Can they get the ball moving against a Dragons defense that gives up some yards and points but seems to come up with big turnovers or defensive stands when they need it?
Who to watch: William Monroe’s Cameron Hayes. Hayes adds a different dimension to the ground game, and could help keep fresh legs churning out yards by spelling Wayne or Miller, making them that much more potent when they’re on the field. That many different potential ball carriers makes Monroe particularly dangerous.
The line: William Monroe by 10. The Dragons might not be ready to blow everyone out despite beating Manassas Park 41-20, but they should be able to win this one comfortably.
Trinity (2-3) at Fork Union (1-5), 3:30 p.m. Friday
The basics: The Titans are coming off of a bye week after beating Northumberland 48-18 the week prior. The Blue Devils endured a frustrating 35-18 loss to St. Christopher’s that now makes the rest of their schedule truly must win territory with four teams ahead of them now in the VISAA Division 1 playoff standings. Much like last week, this is a winnable game for the Blue Devils but as they learned last week, just showing up isn’t enough in these matchups. Look for FUMA to try and tap back into what they had the two previous weeks.
Key matchup: Fork Union’s defensive line against Trinity quarterback Taylor Eggers. The Titans got the job two weeks ago in the air with 245 yards on 16-of-26 passing and of those landing for touchdowns. The Blue Devils gave up a pair of touchdowns in the air last week as St. Christopher’s offensive line was able to provide plenty of protection. The Blue Devils struggled to bottle up Saints quarterback Patrick Roustis. Fork Union can’t let Eggers have the same amount of time and leeway.
Who to watch: Fork Union’s Larry Elder. The Blue Devil receiver Larry Elder. While he had four catches for 35 yards last week but was targeted much more than that. If quarterback Luke Wilson and Elder can fix some of the miscues they had last Friday, the Blue Devils have a problematic deep threat that teams are going to have to respect and figure how to do it while keeping an eye on Logan Justice and Will Stupalksy who both present matchup problems of their own.
The line: Fork Union by 1. It’s crunch time and the sour taste from last Friday should provide plenty of motivation this week.
Fluvanna County (2-4) at Powhatan (1-5), 7:30 p.m.
The basics: The Flucos fell for the third straight week with a 76-6 loss to Charlottesville. On the other hand, since Powhatan joined the Jefferson District in 2011, it’s never started a year at 1-5. The Indians might have struggled with Louisa County last week, but this Powhatan team has the talent to play spoiler to any team thinking that thinks team is just going to roll over. With games against Monticello, Albemarle and Orange still left, keep a close watch on the Indians.
Key matchup: The Fluvanna front eight taken on Powhatan running back Jacob Taylor. The Indians were denied the ability to run by an outstanding Louisa defensive front. Powhatan coach Jim Woodson is not one to just stop pounding the ball inside because of one tough game. If anything, look for the Indians to get Taylor and his offensive line in sync and rolling down hill. While he might not bring the same physicality that Fluvanna saw last week from Charlottesville’s Sabias Folley, not many runners can. Taylor’s still a feisty back that put together a big game. The Flucos have to shore things up as best they can if they want to come up with their first Jefferson District road win since they beat Louisa County on homecoming back in 2013.
Who to watch: Fluvanna’s Joey Vandyke. He makes a difference whether on the defensive line or as a tight end. He’s saved a lot of touchdowns with his tackling and he’s opened up some big holes so that his teammates can be successful on the ground. The Flucos are going to need a big game from him if they want to keep things close with Powhatan, a team that’s always been known for it’s line play.
The line: Powhatan by 7. The Indians get behind Taylor and handle business at home.
Goochland (6-0) at Bluestone (2-5), 7 p.m.
The basics: The Bulldogs throttled Cumberland last week, 49-7. The Barons lost their third straight with a 48-14 defeat at the hands of Central Lunenburg. Between Cumberland, Bluestone and then Randolph-Henry, Goochland will have played three games in a row against teams that are a combined 2-17. But there’s competition on the horizon. Prince Edward is 4-2 right now. And it appears that season finale will be for the James River District championship as Amelia sits at 6-1 and hasn’t lost since its season opener. So Goochland is smack dab in the middle of the lull in their schedule. While the Bulldogs should be more than okay on the road base on Bluestone’s struggles with its JRD opponents, it’s another opportunity to spread the wealth carry wise, get healthy and try things out as they gear up for Prince Edward and Amelia.
Key matchup: Bluestone’s defensive line takes on Goochland’s front five. The Barons have some talent on the line between Walter Evans and Cameron Tucker. If they can find a way to create some chaos in the backfield, they could make this more of a contested ballgame. But trying to keep Ethan Kopczynski, Tyler May, Jacob Massey and the big guys from mashing up field is a tall task.
Who to watch: Goochland running back Jasper Carter. After not handling any carries against Buckingham, Carter’s role was a little less limited against Cumberland. Carter had three carries… and 94 yards and two touchdowns. Nine different players toted the ball for the Bulldogs. So don’t be surprised if Carter’s mileage is once again governed, but it’s pretty clear that he doesn’t need a lot of touches to do a lot of damage.
The line: Goochland by 20. The Bulldogs cruise again.
Madison County (2-4) at Central-Woodstock (7-0), 7:30 p.m.
The basics: The last two weeks have been kind to Madison County. After cruising past Rappahannock two weeks ago, the Mountaineers rolled over Nelson 56-7. So that’s 105 points in the last two weeks. In the first two weeks, Madison scored 13, so that’s a lot of progress. All good things to see from a young team with a young coach in Chandler Rhoads that appears to have found some confidence. It’s easy to forget just how many seniors that Madison had to replace, but it looks like it’s found some mojo now. And with an unbeaten Falcons squad that is coming off a 36-0 over Clarke County, the Mountaineers are going to need everything they’ve got and a couple of big breaks to hang in there on the road.
Key matchup: Madison’s front eight against Central’s running back duo of Kyle Clanton and Shane Watson. Last week against a then 6-0 Clarke squad, Clanton put up 89 yards on ten carries while Watson had 10 carries for 92 yards. This Falcon offense is rolling right now, as two weeks ago it put up 52 points against King William and the week prior it blew up for 75 points against Park View. So far, Clarke County has been the only team to hold Central under 48 points. So, suffice to say, Clanton and Watson are running hard and doing so behind a strong defensive line.
Who to watch: Madison receiver Almus Davis. A quarterback has to have a favorite target. Davis might develop into that for Elijah Lewis after his 56-yard TD strike right before the half against Nelson. The last two weeks have seen Lewis take some big strides forward, particularly in the passing game. If Davis can continue to stretch the field this week against a strong team, the Mountaineers might be able to try and turn this one into a barnburner.
The line: Central by 17. The Falcons came out and made a pretty serious statement last week. This looks like a tough game for a youthful Madison core.
Buckingham County (1-5) at Cumberland (0-6), 7 p.m.
The basics: The Knights had the week off after falling to Goochland the week before. The Dukes fell last week to that same Goochland squad. It will be interesting to see how Buckingham bounces back after its bye week. The Knights played pretty well against Goochland but left too many points on the board. Their hardest opponents are behind them. Between Cumberland, Bluestone, Randolph-Henry and Prince Edward, only one of those teams has a winning record with that being the latter at 4-2 right now. So there’s no reason Buckingham can’t try and mount a push to make the playoffs by reeling off four quick wins, but this team has to continue to take steps forward. Interestingly enough, the Knights have been better almost each week, but things haven’t worked out in their favor. What does this team look like after a week to get healthier and get a long term game plan for one of their James River rivals.
Key matchup: The Dukes run defense against Buckingham running back Walter Edwards. The sophomore has been a reliable source of both carries and yardage for the Knights all year, picking up where left off at the end of last year. A gritty back, Edwards has done a nice job of grinding out plays and setting a strong example for the rest of the underclassmen on this team. Don’t be surprised if he winds up having a real big day against a defense that has surrendered an average of 43.2 points per game so far.
Who to watch: Buckingham’s Gerry Toney. He was sidelined against Goochland with an injury and this offense has a different level of danger when he’s in the backfield. The 6-foot-2 freshman can make things interesting quickly and if the Knights have both he and Edwards running at full speed, Brycen Newby, Brandon Moseley and the Buckingham offensive line will do its part to put some serious yardage on the board.
The line: Buckingham by 6. The Knights should rebound nicely here against a team they’ve beat every year since 2008.
Nelson County (2-5) at Massanutten Military (1-5), Saturday 2:30 p.m.
The basics: It’s a rare day game on a Saturday for a public school, but when you’re putting together an independent schedule you’ve got to be flexible. This is a pretty favorable matchup for the Governors too as they take on a Massanutten team that’s lone victory came over winless Fishburne, and Nelson should be primed to bounce back after an unexpected blowout loss to Madison last week where they couldn’t get on track.
Key matchup: Massanutten’s secondary contends with the Nelson aerial attack. Nelson’s passing attack, led by Brice Wilson at quarterback who continues to lead the area in passing, is intended to do a number of different things, key among them open up some room on the ground for the Nelson offense to operate where a number of different running backs have led the way. The opposing secondary has to figure out a way to both
Who to watch: Nelson’s Devante Rose. This is the obvious pick here, but Rose is one of the area’s most versatile playmakers and he’ll continue to be the key to the Governors winning or losing as their top big play threat. If Rose gets loose, that makes all the difference for Nelson.
The line: Nelson by 10. The Governors get back on track here.
Randolph Macon Academy (2-4) at Blue Ridge (4-1), 2 p.m. Saturday
The basics: The next stage of Blue Ridge’s season starts now. Ranked No. 1 in the VISAA Division II rankings, the Barons have gotten off to exactly the kind of start they wanted to, and now they move on to the second half of the regular season including three games where the three squads are a combined 2-14 before finishing with Benedictine ahead of the playoffs. These next three games should help the Barons seal a spot in the playoffs, and, ideally some home field advantage. This week, they just need to take care of business and impose their will.
Key matchup: Randolph Macon’s front seven takes on the Barons’ ground game. If you consider that Blue Ridge only played a half against Hargrave, the Barons are averaging more than 200 yards per game on the ground with Sammy Fort and Xavier Kane leading the way. That’s probably going to spell trouble for a Randolph Macon team that gave up 66 points and 213 rushing yards to STAB earlier this season. Look for Blue Ridge to try and get things moving on the ground out of the gate.
Who to watch: Blue Ridge’s Kris Deane. We know all the defensive backs that can lock down opposing receivers for the Barons. Cameron Carr is one of the area’s best back end defenders and Xavier Kane is also excellent in coverage. But Deane is the team’s leader in pass breakups with four at the midyear point, giving an already stout group another strong performer.
The line: Blue Ridge by 21. Barons should cruise in this one.