Somebody has to save our skins

Powhatan (2-5) at Monticello (6-1), 7:30 p.m.

The basics: Monticello got a little bit of a reality check last week in The Jungle, but that owes a great deal more to who they faced rather than what Monticello is. Louisa appears to just be on a different plane than the rest of the Jefferson District this year and the good news for the Mustangs is a) they don’t have to play them again and b) they’ve got a lot of good football ahead of them. The Indians picked up a win over Fluvanna last week that made longtime coach Jim Woodson the winningest coach in Richmond-area history. Now they’ll face a wounded Monticello team that is likely to come out looking to get back on track in a big way. Expect the Mustangs to get off to a fast start in this one to start erasing the memory of last week.

Key matchup: Powhatan’s secondary contends with Monticello’s wideouts. Austin Haverstrom and Trenton Johnson are cooking this year, in part because Kevin Jarrell is the one pulling the trigger on the offense, but these two are finding ways to get open. Since Jarrell got Jerrick Ayers in the mix against Western too coming out of the backfield, it’s likely the Indians’ corners will get less help from the middle of the field, which could get Haverstrom and Johnson open even more often downfield. Countering this group is going to be a tough task the rest of the year.

Who to watch: Monticello’s front seven. The Mustangs’ defense in particular has to shake off last week as an anomaly and get right back to work playing defense the way they did the first six games of the season and that’ll start with the front seven against a Powhatan team that wants to establish the run.

The line: Monticello by 14. The Mustangs bounce back in a big way against the Indians.


Western Albemarle (1-6) at Charlottesville (5-2), 7 p.m.

The basics: In what has been at times one of the area’s most entertaining rivalries, both teams are coming in off a loss, but while the Warriors are still hunting for an offensive identity, Charlottesville can lean on an impressive five-game run before that narrow loss to Albemarle where, perhaps, a single fourth down conversion may have led to a different result. Western proved dangerous last season right around this same time when the Warriors upset a Louisa team that had been cruising while coming in at 2-4. If Charlottesville comes out and executes they can pick up their sixth win. But if the Warriors get some early momentum don’t be shocked if this one comes down to the wire.

Key matchup: Charlottesville’s offensive line faces the Western defensive front. Despite this string of losses, the Warriors’ defense has shown some promise against the run at times, holding Louisa to its lowest scoring output of the season and holding Orange to just 109 yards on the ground last week. Some of that is Luke Tenuta occupying attention and causing problems up front, but that’s a problem that an option attack like the Black Knights’ can often easily avoid, using misdirection or reading off an aggressive player to force the issue. Expect a little bit of both as Trejon Bryant and Larry Henderson try to open up lanes like they have all year.

Who to watch: Charlottesville’s Rakeem Davis. With Albemarle largely bottling up Sam Neale and Tre Durrett last week, Davis was explosive, rushing for 111 yards and a touchdown. If he can stay on track, it’ll be a major challenge for the Warriors to contain the option with so many different weapons locked in.

The line: Charlottesville by 10. The Black Knights should get back on track here.


Covenant (5-1) at St. Anne’s-Belfield (3-3), 7:00 p.m.

The basics: Covenant, who last beat the Saints in 2012 (the program’s lone win over the Saints thanks to an overtime win led by a Brady Doyle TD pass and a Gus Rose interception) when STAB went 0-10, is hunting another win. But make no mistake, STAB coach John Blake is going to have all his tricks and gadget plays ready to roll for the Eagles in this one while Seth Wilson will be eager to make his mark in his first game in the series as a head coach. This one should be good as both sides have some serious motivation as they try and jockey for a potential playoff spot in VISAA’s Division II and with some serious bragging rights on the line. Look for a monster performance from all the key playmakers in what could be the biggest game all season for each squad.

Key matchup: Covenant’s secondary tries to contain the Chase Emmert to Myles Ward connection. Myles Ward hauled in seven catches for 168 yards and two touchdowns last week against Hampton Roads, with going for 232 total yards. Marking Ward is a challenge, but the Eagles counter with some solid secondary play including ballhawk Jonas Sanker. The Eagles’ secondary will need to avoid another performance like they had a few weeks back against Blue Ridge where they surrendered an 8-for-9, 186-yard outing by Xavier Kane.

Who to watch: Covenant’s John Huemme. He’s rushed for over 500 yards, but Huemme makes the option particularly dangerous because he can also make teams pay through the air, having thrown for another 473 on the year. Load up against the option and Huemme can find Jonas Sanker or another Covenant pass catcher for a big gain. That balance could spell particular trouble for the Saints who’ve had some defensive lapses this year.  

The line: Covenant by 1. Getting wins over the Saints is no easy task for the Eagles as they’ve proven over the years, but this year they’re the more proven entity coming into this one.


Albemarle (3-4) at Fluvanna County (2-5)

The basics: Albemarle knew that it still had plenty of opportunity to make some noise even after falling to Monticello which brought the Patriots’ record to 1-4. Since then, J’Quan Anderson has been explosive, some members of his supporting cast offensively have stepped up and the Patriots are on a little bit of a roll. They’ll look to continue that against Fluvanna as they continue to position themselves for the playoffs, where their current Region 5D’s No. 5 seed and hoping to move up at least a spot and grab a home playoff opener. The Flucos, meanwhile, have dropped three in a row, struggling to move the ball almost at all last week against Powhatan with just four rushing yards. The Flucos need to find a rhythm offensively and that’s trouble against Albemarle’s seasoned secondary and a front seven that’s rounding into form. Still Fluvanna is currently in playoff position and if they can figure out a way to win one of their final three games, they’ll likely earn a trip to the postseason.  

Key matchup: Fluvanna’s front seven takes on J’Quan Anderson. Anderson carried the load last week again, getting it done with his feet with 327 yards on the ground highlighted by several long touchdown runs where the senior just ran away from the Black Knights. The Flucos will have their hands full, but don’t be surprised if Albemarle looks to get some other folks involved to avoid throwing the game on Anderson’s back every single week. They’re going to need him healthy come playoff time. The Flucos counter with a defense that’s struggled some against the run, but has shown a knack in two wins for coming up with key turnovers in big moments.

Who to watch: Albemarle’s Eric Taylor. It was hard to tell who’d step up to replace Teshawn Massie and David Tomlin at linebacker for the Patriots this year, but Taylor has been solid this year before making a huge stop on fourth and short for Charlottesville that set up last week’s game-winning drive. Taylor might be the defensive key to this second half surge the Pats are starting to put together.

The line: Albemarle by 21. The Patriots continue to pick up steam with a road win.



William Monroe (2-5) at Skyline (3-4), 7 p.m.

The basics: William Monroe’s two-game winning streak game to an end in a heartbreaker against Brentsville last week, losing 7-6 to the Tigers. The Dragons struggled to move the ball most of the game and lost despite out-gaining the Tigers by more than 100 yards. That’s a frustrating defeat by any measure and it also put some added pressure on the Dragons if they want to wedge their way into the playoffs. The next three games are becoming must-win situations, starting with the Hawks on the road.

Key matchup: Skyline’s offense tries to solve the Monroe defense. William Monroe held Brentsville to just 113 yards of offense and seven points, a stout performance by that group that was certainly good enough to win. If the Dragons’ bring a similar effort, Skyline will have a tough time moving the ball.

Who to watch: William Monroe’s ground game. Whether it’s Zach Miller or Jaekwon Wayne, the Dragons are at their best when they’re setting up the pass with the run. Last week the ground game stalled out and the Dragons in turn struggled offensively.

The line: Skyline by 7. Being at home, the Hawks get the edge but this is a winnable game for the Dragons, who aren’t far out of playoff contention.


Nelson County (3-5) at Strasburg (3-4), 7 p.m.

The basics: Nelson County took another step forward with a blowout win over Massanutten Military Academy last week, rolling 82-6. The Governors can score in all three phases, particularly if the ball finds its way into the explosive Devante Rose’s hands, one of the area’s scoring leaders who scored on a rush and on a kick return last week. This is no easy task playing a young but talented Strasburg squad on the road, the Governors have their work cut out ofr them this week.

Key matchup: Nelson’s front seven takes on Strasburg’s Austin Miller. Miller rushed for 88 yards against a stingy Clarke defense last week. Now the Governors, who’ve struggled at times against the run, face the task of trying to stuff him.

Who to watch: Nelson’s Aveon Tabb. While Felix Rodriguez led the Governors’ ground game last week with 147 yards, Tabb was pretty explosive too with 99 yards and three touchdowns on 18 touches. If Tabb gives them another option in the ground game, Nelson’s offense will just get more dangerous.

The line: Strasburg by 10. The Rams’ narrow win over George Mason indicates they’ve got a slight edge on the Governors, who gave up 42 to the Mustangs.


Collegiate (6-1) at Fork Union (2-5), 3:30 p.m.

The basics: The Cougars are coming their first win over Woodberry Forest since 2007 which now puts them in the driver’s seat for a Prep League championship, something that would be their first since, yup, 2007. Since then only Woodberry and Fork Union have won PL titles with the Blue Devils snagging the trophy in 2012. Fork Union exploded last week against Trinity in an 86-42 victory that it had to have. Now the Blue Devils have a chance to not only play spoiler to Collegiate’s Prep League championship hopes, but put themselves in position to potentially win it themselves with a win here and then a win over Woodberry on November 4th. It’s not going to be easy, but the Blue Devils have the talent to do it.

Key matchup: Fork Union’s secondary takes on the Collegiate spread. The good news is that the Blue Devils have Logan Justice, Larry Elder, Nick Farrar and Will Stupalsky, all of them quality defensive backs. And then they have a middle linebacker in Iosefa Pua’auli who’s spent time at safety and can slide back into that role or play well in coverage in the middle. Fork Union needs them all to be on point so that quarterback T Brewer can’t find receivers Aiynde Budd, Trey Boll and Zaed Karabatek. Collegiate doesn’t spread teams out to go deep. They run a lot of crossing patterns, screens and hitches to try and find a good one-on-one match and put one of their guys in open space. Should the secondary hold up well and the defensive line get some pressure, the Blue Devils will be in good shape to compete at a high level and try and pull off the upset here.

Who to watch: Pua’auli. Games like these are where you get to see his talent shine. He wasn’t able to play in this contest last season and so he’s going to be hyped up to showcase just how versatile he is. Defensively, he couldn’t be more important in this one between his ability to be a tackling machine but also to play in coverage and pass rush. On the other side of the ball, while the FUMA passing attack is now clearly the focus — and why not when Luke Wilson threw nine touchdowns last week — Pua’auli should factor in significantly in the ground game too as the kind of power runner to complement R.C. Wallbrook that Collegiate has not gone up against yet.

The line: Collegiate by 4. While the Cougars are 6-1 for a reason, the Blue Devils could pull off the big win if they play to their potential.


Louisa County (7-0) at Orange County (4-3), 7:30 p.m.

The basics: The last two years have seen this rivalry heat back up to where things used to be back in 2006. The “Battle of the Gordonsville Tastee Freeze” is always something for these two schools to rally around but this year it stands out as it’s an opportunity for Orange to do something nobody else in the Jefferson District has — figure out what to do against this Louisa defense. Louisa shelled an undefeated Monticello team 62-21 that stands out because only the Lions have been able to contain that Mustangs offense. The Hornets are coming off a good 28-8 win over Western Albemarle where their defense had its best showing since a 40-13 win over Spotsylvania in week one. For Louisa, this is about avoiding a trap game. For Orange, this is an opportunity to pull off a stunner that would be remembered for a long time in OC lore, especially since it’s at Porterfield Park.

Key matchup: Orange quarterback Kenyon Carter against Louisa’s defensive line. Carter is going to have to be on his toes, mobile and make quick decisions. The Lions showed just how good they are at pinning their ears back and getting after a mobile quarterback last week. While Carter needs his offensive line to be on point against Tony Thurston, Devin Jackson-McGhee and Dustin Matney, Carter has to use his feet to keep away from them in the middle of the field and the pass rush from the linebackers on the edge. That Louisa trio has really come into its own these last few weeks and Carter would do well to find a way to get settled quickly and get rid of the ball to one of his receivers. He’s got the weapons. The issue is having the time to get the ball to them.

Who to watch: Orange’s Jaylen Alexander. Can he be the first running back to find significant success against this Louisa defense. The Hornets would love to be able to establish the run in this one and set up the big play over the top. You’ll still take any score you can get against this defense, but if Alexander can find a way to move the chains, eat up some clock and keep Louisa’s offense sidelined that would help immensely. The only problem so far is that nobody has been able to do that.

The line: Louisa by by 14. The Lion’s strength upfront winds up being the real difference in this one.


Clarke County (7-1) at Madison County (2-5), 7:30 p.m.

The basics: The Eagles took down Strasburg last week 49-20 to bounce back from their loss to Central Woodstock the week before. The Mountaineers got a close look at Central last week in their 66-6 loss on the road last week. Having to play Central and now Clarke seems like a cruel joke, but it will be interesting to see how Madison approaches this one with first year coach Chandler Rhoads going up against his alma mater.

Key matchup: The Madison offensive line takes on Clarke’s Jacob Peace and Bryan Wallace. Peace is a 6-foot-7 senior weighs in at 300 pounds. Wallace is a 6-foot-5 senior that weighs 235 pounds. Trying to game plan for that when you’re young and relatively undersized upfront is a real problem. The Mountaineers will have to figure out a way to keep Peace and Wallace from getting one-on-one matchups. If they do so, they’ll be giving quarterback Elijah Lewis some time to make plays. If they don’t, it’s going to be a long night.

Who to watch: Madison’s Jack Price. The senior lineman will have to be at his best in this one and show the younger lineman the ropes as to how Clarke runs its offense. Obviously Rhoads will have a plan of attack to try and slow the offense he once run, but it’s up to Price and the Madison front seven to get the job done and execute. It’s not going to be easy, but the Mountaineers have an opportunity to improve upon last week.

The line: Clarke by 17. The Eagles are loaded and present a physical problem.


Bluestone (2-6) at Buckingham County (2-5), 7 p.m.

The basics: The Barons are coming off a 58-18 defeat at the hands of Goochland. The Knights? Well they’re coming off their best offensive showing since coach Josh Wallace arrived in 2016. Buckingham took down Cumberland 84-21 after earning a much needed bye the week before. The Knights have an opportunity to make the Region 2C playoffs interesting.They’re currently five points back from eighth place Martinsville. A win here would help them greatly.

Key matchup: Buckingham County’s pass rush against Bluestone quarterback Dale Sturdifen Jr. The Barons’ quarterback has dropped back to pass 37 times the last two weeks and thrown for 280 yards with four touchdowns and three interceptions. He’s also the team’s best rushing weapon. Look for the Knights to lean on Brandon Mosley and Brycen Newby to lead the push up front and make sure that Sturdifen Jr. has little time to throw and little space to run.

Who to watch: Buckingham’s Gerry Toney. With 13 carries for 145 yards and two touchdowns, the Knights were happy to see the freshman back on the field. He’s made a huge difference when he’s been healthy. If he can continue to find success, running backs Tyrese Ayres and Walter Edwards are going to feast. Ayres had seven touches and 135 yards last week while Edwards toted eight attempts for 105 yards. Between Toney, Edwards and Ayres, Buckingham got seven touchdowns. A repeat performance wouldn’t be completely surprising, but its going to be tougher than it was last week.

The line: Buckingham by 3. The Knights are dangerous right now as they key in on trying to make the playoffs.


Randolph-Henry (0-7) at Goochland (7-0), 7 p.m.

The basics: The Statesmen are coming of a 47-6 loss to Nottoway last week while Goochland rolled past Bluestone 58-18. Goochland is on fire offensively right now and seem to be getting in better sync than they were before their bye week. That’s saying something considering this is a team that’s closest game was a 24-7 win over Buckingham where the Bulldogs never trailed.

Key matchup: Randolph-Henry’s linebacking corps takes on Goochland’s wing-T. If you want to beat the Bulldogs, who have to guess right on the reads and that’s up to the linebackers for the Statesmen. That mean Tyrie Blow Tydings, Cedric Patrick and company have to figure out when to go all in on Goochland running backs Jasper Carter, John King, Perry Snead-Johnson and quarterback Devin McCray. They might want to start by figuring out how to stop Carter first. He ran for 236 yards on just 17 carries and finished with three touchdowns last week. The last two weeks Carter’s averaging 16.5 yards per carry. That’s insane.

Who to watch: McCray. The sophomore quarterback is getting the opportunity to throw the ball around a little bit in addition to his rushing duties as of late. That’s going to matter going down the road into Goochland’s meeting with Amelia in the season finale and the playoffs after that. When the Bulldogs have had that passing element in their offense it’s always reared its head in big moments. It will be good to have McCray’s confidence up for when those moments arrive. In this game, he should get a good chance to work on some of his passing without a lot of pressure.

The line: Goochland by 20. The Bulldogs are too much here for the Statesmen.


Woodberry Forest (3-2) at Benedictine (4-2), Saturday 12 p.m.

The basics: The Tigers are coming off a 31-28 loss to Collegiate where the go ahead touchdown came with just 20 seconds on the clock. Now that puts Woodberry’s opportunity for a 5-year Prep League Championship in serious jeopardy. Look for them to try and rebound in an out-of-PL game with the Cadets who are coming off a 28-9 loss to Georgetown Prep. This has been a pretty solid rivalry the last few years with a number of the games being particularly close, and a little bit chippy too. With both teams looking to bounce back, someone is going to be particularly sour when they pick up their third loss.

Key matchup: Benedictine’s secondary takes on Woodberry’s receiving corps. Week-in and week-out, the Tigers are getting the job done in the air with quarterback Will Wideman throwing for 219 yards and 178 of them going to DeQuece Carter in their last game. Carter’s flat out speed presents a problem on one of the edges. Khalid Thomas’ speed and agility present another problem. And tight end Kyle Bilodeau’s size in the middle of the field presents a different kind of dilemma. The Cadets have their work cut out for them trying to keep Wideman away from his favorite targets. But they do have a talented junior defensive back in Tre Akande to fight back with.

Who to watch: Woodberry’s Warren Matthews. When the Tigers have played their best defense it’s been the defensive line getting the job done upfront that’s led the way. The Cadets are a run first team and that actually could play to Woodberry’s strength as was seen against Paul VI just two games ago. Look for the senior defensive tackle to play a pivotal role in quieting running back Caleb Grimes.

The line: Woodberry by 1. It’s another tough road game, but the Tigers have the tools to take this one.


Blue Ridge (5-1) at Virginia Episcopal (0-6), 2 p.m. Saturday

The basics: Blue Ridge came out of its bye week a little rusty but still rolled to a 47-0 win over Randolph Macon. The Barons are in position to overwhelm their next two opponents in VES and Fishburne before an early November clash with Benedictine. As the No. 1-ranked squad in the VISAA’s Division II, some of what’s going on right now is about fine-tuning and getting ready for the Cadets and a potential playoff run. Look for Blue Ridge to keep it simple and keep moving forward.

Key matchup: VES takes on Blue Ridge’s ground game. Cameron Carr got things going on the ground in some end around and sweep-type actions last week, adding another facet to a Blue Ridge ground game that was already plenty formidable with Xavier Kane and Sammy Fort holding things down. At this point it’s hard to figure out how to stop Blue Ridge on the ground.

Who to watch: Blue Ridge’s Abdoulaye Camara. The Blue Ridge big man’s job appears to mostly to be a space eater and block occupier that allows the Barons’ linebackers to attack and pile up tackles, but Camara charged through the Randolph Macon offensive line and forced a fumble that led to a big return by Juan Mareco last week. Throw in the fact that he also connected on five PATs and it’s clear the Barons have found yet another contributor.

The line: Blue Ridge by 28. Barons should keep cruising here.