Week two of the drive to the state finals is now behind us, and for the Roanoke Valley this is a case of the last man standing. Cave Spring is the sole survivor among the local squads to remain in the hunt. The Knights have the task of traveling to undefeated Richlands Friday night at 7:30 to take on the Blue Tornadoes. Check the prediction on that game later in the column. Last week my playoff predictions were 3-1 (5-1 for all playoffs to date) on top of .824 for the regular season.
First of all, we need to congratulate three great teams from our area who saw their season end last Friday night. Defending Group AA state champion Northside went to the wire before dropping a heartbreaker, 12-10, to Brookville on a late field goal by the Bees. It’s always tougher when you’re the defending champs because the expectations and goals are so elevated as well as having experienced all the accolades of being crowned #1. But, Burt Torrence’s team looked strong all season and the Vikings showed they can play with anybody. Look for another strong run for Northside in 2011.
Salem went up and down the field with Magna Vista before falling 48-35 in a game that was much closer than indicated by the final score. Salem has one of the best all-round football programs in the state and little is left to chance by the Salem boosters and the City of Salem. Although the sheer numbers would indicate otherwise, there is little doubt Salem suffered a significant blow when Richmond-bound standout Seth Fisher went down in the Cave Spring game and was lost for the season. As a graduate of Andrew Lewis, where Salem football took its roots, I can assure you Stephen Magenbauer’s group will be back in full force next year. Tradition can account for a lot.
North Cross can hold their heads high as the Raiders made it to the VISAA state final before falling on the road against Norfolk Christian, 29-14. North Cross was in the game until the waning minutes before a late Ambassador TD sealed the outcome. It was a successful Raider campaign for first-year North Cross head coach Stephen Alexander. And, to be sure, the Raiders were road-tested with two games in NC and another three on Virginia’s Eastern shore. Hopefully, North Cross can attract a few VIS teams back that ran for cover after facing the explosive 2008 state championship Raider squad.
Now, for a little housekeeping. Last Friday night a very nice, yet upset, Grundy lady took me to task outside the locker rooms for my game prediction versus Cave Spring. She indicated it was demeaning to Grundy and far SW Va. I wasn’t sure but it seemed like she might be upset over my comments on a couple of their opponents, the locations of which I admittedly still can’t find on my 2009 Wal-Mart atlas, or my score prediction.
Strength of schedule is a big factor, and when I see this as opposed to a team that is taking on the likes of Christiansburg, Northside and Salem, it draws some attention. I wasn’t implying anything negative about your school, team, supporters or town. As for the prediction, it was on the money. I said CS would win by 35; the final was 50-14. I know it was tough to lose the game and I apologized to you for whatever you didn’t like. I have a feeling you’ve searched out this week’s edition so I’ll express my regret publicly.
Invite me to Grundy for a basketball game. I’ll be in your area for the Cave Spring- Richlands game, so look for me and I’ll buy lunch. Since you’ve already seen me you know I’m every bit as good looking as my picture. Let’s see, Grundy has one of the top wrestling programs in the state. I’m thinking maybe I should be flying the white flag . . . Go, Golden Wave!
Now, let’s move to the mailbag for a couple questions to straighten me out.
Dear Wild Bill: I need to contact the athletic director at Grundy High School. Do you have any idea who it may be? (Bob/Marion)
Answer: Yes, Bob-it’s Greg Rowe. He’s AD and head football coach. A super guy who believes in the motto “Attitude is a little thing that makes a BIG difference.” See readers, I’m becoming an expert on everything Grundy.
Dear Mr. Bill: I want to ask the Cave Spring football coach how he designed a couple of those passing formations. What is his name? (Coach Stockton/Knoxville)
Answer: I have no idea. coach. Try Jones or Smith.
Dear Wild One: Do you consider yourself a ‘homer’ in your picks as far as the Roanoke teams? (Larry/ Ridgeway)
Answer: Au contraire, Larry. Out of four playoff games last week, my predictions included two area teams losing-and both did.
Dear Sir: We’re moving to Buchanan County. My girl plays in the band and I want to get color coordinated for Grundy HS. Any ideas? (Nancy/ Blacksburg)
Answer: Yes, Nancy, the colors are Navy and Vegas Gold. I told you readers I was on the ball.
Send your inquiries to [email protected]
The only game involving a Roanoke team that remains in the playoff hunt is the Fridaymatchup at 7:30 between Cave Spring (8-3) and Richlands (11-0) for the Region IV Division 3 title. Richlands is undefeated at 11-0 and had little trouble in defeating Martinsville 63-19 last Friday night. Likewise, Cave Spring scored the first 50 points in their easy win over Grundy at Bogle Stadium. Richlands has scored with ease this season as the Blue Tornado have put up 31 or more points in every game and over 50 in seven of the eleven wins. Cave Spring is no slouch with the offense, either, as the Knights had 43 by halftime Friday night. If the Knights get it in gear, the Blue Tornadoes faithful may think they’re watching a pac-man arcade. There may be an intangible in this one. Richlands plays on artificial turf on their home field, to which visiting teams in Southwest Va. are not typically accustomed. Cave Spring is used to the fake grass at Bogle, so no surprises in that area. This one should be good. River Ridge vs Southwest District- advantage CS.
Cave Spring – 34 Richlands – 28