It’s time for the kickoff of another season of Friday night lights (and a few Saturday afternoon shootouts in the North Cross arena) as we deliver the week-one lineup and predictions for the nine ‘ Big-11’ games. The showcase matchup this week has Patrick Henry making the short trip to Dwight Bogle Stadium to take on the Hidden Valley Titans.
Other notable games being played throughout the Roanoke Valley include Cave Spring traveling to Vinton to square off against Jeff Highfield’s William Byrd Terriers, Northside entertaining perennial power Amherst County, Galax visiting West Salem to take on Glenvar and Roanoke Catholic playing host to Rappahannock County.
Make sure you get out to support your favorite team as every squad culminates those tough August practices. Without further ado, here’s a look at what the old Ouija offers in week-one.
PATRICK HENRY at HIDDEN VALLEY: Group 6A PH travels to Group 3A Hidden Valley in a River Ridge matchup that the Titans aren’t even required to play because of classification differential. Both teams will unveil new quarterbacks after David Prince graduated from PH to head to Virginia Tech and Nic Ratliff completed his career behind center for the Titans. PH squeaked by last year 24-21. Patrick Henry-26 Hidden Valley- 20.
CAVE SPRING at WILLIAM BYRD: Byrd’s fortunes last year impacted by an injury to quarterback Zac Hill late in the season. Hill is back and along with senior running back Simeon Horstmann and that combo may make things miserable for opponents. Cave Spring is in a rebuilding year and the positions on the lines may be challenging early in the season. William Byrd- 24 Cave Spring- 13.
AMHERST COUNTY at NORTHSIDE: There’s high hopes in the Viking camp after a number of close calls in 2012. Burt Torrence always brings a well-prepared team to the field and 2013 has the necessary pieces. Northside suffered a 32-6 blowout loss to Amherst last year. There’s a lot of motivation for a little revenge at Jim Hickam Field. Northside- 14 Amherst County- 13.
SALEM at FRANKLIN COUNTY: Salem comes off a 12-1 campaign and having to replace quarterback Matt Hill. That’s little worry in Spartan land where the roster typically looks like a college lineup. Steve Magenbauer enters his tenth season as head coach and has only lost more than two games in a season once in nine years. Salem’s last visit to Franklin County ended in a heartbreaker for the Eagles. The Spartans should prevail. Salem- 24 Franklin County- 15.
LORD BOTETOURT at JAMES RIVER: The annual battle for bragging rights in Botetourt County. Second year.Cavalier head coach Jamie Harless made a huge turnaround for the Botetourt program in 2012. Botetourt won this one last year 26-6 in Daleville. James River may have too many holes to fill from graduation. Botetourt may well be way too physical under a Harless defensive scheme. Lord Botetourt- 35 James River-7.
WILLIAM FLEMING at FLUVANNA COUNTY: Fleming enters the season with high hopes under new head coach Bobby Martin. The Colonels won only two games over the past three seasons, so there’s plenty of room for improvement and plenty of excitement that their move to the Blue Ridge will bring a more competitive schedule. Fluvanna County was 2-8 in 2012. The big question is how fast Martin can bring a winning tradition to the Colonel huddle. Fluvanna Countty- 23 William Fleming- 9.
GALAX at GLENVAR: The Maroon Tide invade Highlander country where seventh-year Glenvar head coach Kevin Clifford’s team awaits. Glenvar returns a large number of starters which has things upbeat in West Salem. Both teams made the Group A playoffs in 2012.. Galax prevailed by 13 points against Glenvar last year. Glenvar-21 Galax- 20.
RAPPAHANNOCK COUNTY at ROANOKE CATHOLIC: Rappahannock finished the 2012 season at 6-5 after bowing out of the Group A playoffs with a loss to Covington. Catholic has a short roster which always causes concerns in the early part of the season. The Celtics had a strong finish in 2012 after a 0-5 start. Rappahannock County- 26 Roanoke Catholic- 12.
NORTH CROSS at VIRGINIA EPISCOPAL (SAT): The Raiders missed the playoffs in 2012 under head coach Stephen Alexander and North Cross may have a few surprises set for 2013. The schedule gets more workable and the Raiders look to have some new weapons on offense. Look for an explosive passing and running game that will be the key to their success.. The defense always gets strong in a hurry. North Cross- 38 VES- 28.
– Bill Turner