This season, the folks at Coalfield Sports will pick five of the most intriguing matchups in the area to be the games of the week before THE game of the week is picked by you the fans.
Each week, Ryan and Brady, the hosts of the SWVASports Podcast will pick the five contests and be joined by a special guest each week.
This week, Coalfield Sports founder, Eugene Hilton, joins the two Hokie alums.
Eugene was a standout football player at Pocahontas High School before the school consolidated, causing him to take his talents to Tazewell High. You can read more about Eugene in the “About” section of our site.
This week the five games the guys are choosing from are: Virginia High at Tazewell, Ridgeview at Grundy, Chilhowie at Marion, Lebanon at Honaker and the CoalfieldSports.com Game of the Week, Bluefield at Graham.
Let’s get to it!
Virginia High at Tazewell:
Ryan: Virginia High is a team I’m very intrigued with this season. They’re coming off a season that was historically one of their better ones in the last few decades. All of the pieces are there for this season to be even better. The Dawgs are still young. They have the team to be very good…just not better than the Bearcats this year. Give me Virginia High in a game that is close at the half before the Cats pull away.
Eugene: The Bearcats from Bristol should be a top team in the SWD this year. They hung with Union last week in their benefit game and return two of Region D’s best players in Aaron Rose & Jamie Lathrop. Expectations for Tazewell are all over the place, with some thinking they’re contenders this year, and some believing they’re still a year away. The Bulldogs are young, but will field a team full of athletes. I think home field advantage might be key in this game, which has the potential to be the highest attended game at Bulldog Stadium since the 2008 Region IV championship game.
My prediction? Chancellor Harris lights up the brand new scoreboard on Witten Field to lead Tazewell to a 7-point victory.
Brady: I’ll be covering this one for the Bristol Herald Courier, so I will offer my keys to the game. Tazewell cannot start out against Virginia High like they did in their benefit game against Eastern Montgomery. If the Dawgs dig a 16-0 hole against Virginia High, they may as well keep digging. That is when you will see Rose and Lathrop take the Bearcats over the top. Tazewell needs to get the ball in the hands of players such as Chancellor Harris early and often to get a win in this one. For Virginia High, all your experience is going to benefit you all year, but especially in this one.
Ridgeview at Grundy:
Ryan: This game got a lot of added intrigue this week when Brady mentioned Ridgeview could be on upset alert. I agree that Grundy will be a very solid Class A team this year, but they aren’t on the Wolfpack’s level. Give me boys from Rose Ridge by at least a couple touchdowns.
Eugene: Ridgeview at Grundy quickly became one of the most hyped games of the week, amassing votes in the Coalfield Sports’ Game of the Week Poll. Gabe Fiser and the Wave will be ready to play, but the Wolfpack are poised for a deep 2A playoff run.
My prediction? Closer than the experts think: Ridgeview by 4
Brady: Ridgeview is on upset alert in this one. Nelson Memorial Field will be packed in a game that offers two contenders when you look at the big picture in 1A and 2A. The game also features two of the best running backs in the area in Trenton Atkins and Gabe Fiser. If the Wolfpack can shut down Fiser, Ridgeview will win handily. If Fiser can dominate out of the backfield and in the kicking game, Grundy has the potential to shock some people. At the end of the day, give me Ridgeview by 10 points.
Chilhowie at Marion:
Ryan: Chilhowie is poised this year. They return TWENTY starters. That is absolutely unheard of at any level of football. They have every single piece to make it back to Salem in December, and maybe go home happy this time. I still don’t know what to make of Marion yet, but I will use this game as a measuring stick for their upcoming schedule. I like Chilhowie by 10.
Eugene: Going on the record now to proclaim that Chilhowie is my favorite team this year. I’ve enjoyed my interactions with Coach Robinson. The orange and black uniforms are also very dear to my heart. Plus, as Ryan mentioned, 20 starters are returning for the Warriors. It’s hard to imagine that there is a more experienced team in Virginia this year. Add me to the bandwagon. The Marion camp has been sort of quiet, but you don’t just replace a player of Kelby Ford’s caliber and beat a team like Chilhowie to open the season.
My prediction? Greg Sanchez has his pads off by halftime after having his way with Marion’s defense. Warriors by 30.
Brady: Chilhowie will win this big. They got absolutely no respect in the top 10 released by our users on SWVASports.com. I am not going to pick against them this season.
Lebanon at Honaker:
Ryan: Lebanon and Honaker is always a big rivalry. This year will be no different. Both teams are down in terms of number and compared to the normal talent there in Russell County. That doesn’t mean this game won’t entertain. In the end, I’ll take the home field advantage. Give me the Tigers by 3.
Eugene: The “Coal Bowl” in Russell County will be played at Fuller Field this year. That itself gives Honaker the edge. Numbers are low this year for Lebanon, but it looks like Coach Webb has his boys ready to play. Having Seth Stanley running the ball again should keep Lebanon in some games, but my guess is Doug Hubbard and the Tigers have a bounce back year, getting a win in week 1. My Prediction? Honaker is the Coal Bowl champs with a 14-point win.
Brady: The low numbers in Lebanon are shocking to me. This one could go either way. At the end of the day, I think a capacity crowd at Fuller Field sees Honaker defeat the Pioneers by a touchdown. Look for Trevor Dye to gain 100+ on the ground.
COALFIELDSPORTS.COM GAME OF THE WEEK: Bluefield at Graham.
Ryan: This week’s Game of the Week is a game I want to see one day. 10,000 fans for a high school game is crazy. Graham is a favorite in Region 2D, but Bluefield is the king this year in WV AA ball. Look for the line of the Beavers to get push all night long and disrupt the timing of the speedy G-Men. Bluefield by 17 is what I’ve thrown around all week, and I’ll stick to my guns. Bluefield is that good, folks.
Eugene: The Coalfield Sports Game of the Week: Graham/Beaver or Beaver/Graham, depending on which side of the state line you claim, will bring another huge crowd to Mitchell Stadium. Bluefield escaped last year with a 17-14 victory with a goal line stand coming in the last minute of the game. EVERYONE is high on Beavers, the defending WV AA state champs, for good reason. They return almost everyone, except for current Division 1 players Mookie Collier & Truck Edwards. Graham loses leadership and production from current Marshall defensive back Taymon Cooke, and their former all-state linebacker and current Palmetto Prep school player, Dante Vineyard.
My prediction? Graham led by the explosive Purdue University commit-Cameron Allen, sneaks one out in the 4th quarter to win by 7.
Brady: The Beavers and G-Men always entertain in this one. I have to get to this game one day. Easily the biggest and best rivalry in the area. There will be athletes all over the field. Bluefield has received well-deserved hype throughout the preseason. Fred Simon in the gang will hand Graham a loss in this one. It won’t be much though. Beavers win by six. The emotions are high and that itself, will keep this one close.
I am a graduate of Richlands High School—class of 2014. In May 2018, I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Multimedia Journalism and History with a minor in war and Society from Virginia Tech.
My passions in life are numerous. We don’t have all day. This is not the place to divulge into Hokie Football, so I will shed some light on one of my other favorites.
I was born and raised in the coalfields of southwest Virginia—Richlands to be exact. I remember the first time I ever went to a high school football game (Richlands-Tazewell ’02). Since then, a passion has grown that is stronger than the current in the Clinch River. As a football player in this region, I was able to witness the passion oozing out of the hills firsthand. It was something that when I began college, people had a hard time believing the spectacle that is high school football in the coalfields. Luckily, I was able to go 42-8 in between the white lines on Fridays and Saturdays from 2010-2013. I look forward to having another platform to tell you my stories, your stories and their stories. Here’s to the good times and hoping I don’t leave you like I did Coach Greg Mance numerous times—by saying, “Gosh Durn It!”
Let’s talk, SWVA sports, Hokies, history or maybe even barbecue.