This season, the folks at Coalfield Sports are picking five of the most intriguing matchups in the area to be the games of the week before you the fans select THE game of the week.
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.
So far, the records are as follows:
Guest: 15-5 (Eugene Hilton: 3-2, Lloyd Combs: 5-0, Rick Baker 4-1, Casey Goetz 3-2)
WCYB sports director Casey Goetz went 3-2 after Union and Narrows let him down in week four. We appreciate Casey’s attempt to stump the experts!
This week’s guest picker is also someone who is no stranger to the coalfields. Anthony Stevens has been a sportscaster in southwest Virginia for over 40 years. The Ervinton High School alum got his start at WDIC in 1977. Stevens currently is the voice of Russell County sports on WXLZ-FM 107.3 and wxlz.net. In addition to broadcasting, Anthony has been a sports writer in our region for over 22 years. He is currently the sports editor of the Lebanon News and a sports correspondent for the Bristol Herald Courier and the Bluefield Daily Telegraph.
This week, the five games are: Patrick Henry at John Battle, Marion at Grayson County, Auburn at George Wythe, Rye Cove at Castlewood and the CoalfieldSports.com Game of the Week, Honaker at Grundy.
Let’s get to it!
Patrick Henry at John Battle:
Brady: Patrick Henry has the best backfield tandem in southwest Virginia with Zach Brown and Cody Smith. After watching this group first hand against Eastside, I am a believer in Mark Palmer and the Rebels. I look for Patrick Henry to return from Bristol with a 5-0 record.
Anthony: The fight for bragging rights in Washington County. Battle hammered the visiting Rebels last year. Patrick Henry is 4-0 and looking for some payback. This will be an important contest in VHSL rating points for the Rebels. I look for Patrick Henry to get the win.
Ryan: I was going to pick Patrick Henry in this game. They’re undefeated and have a great stable of backs. Then I realized that they’ve played teams with a combined record of 1-14 this season. Ouch. Battle is battle tested (yep, I went there), and I think in the end they have more depth and home field advantage. Give me the Trojans.
Marion at Grayson County:
Brady: Grayson County will be out for something a little more scarlet than a hurricane this Friday. After a trip to Glenvar resulted in a loss last week, the Blue Devils will avenge that loss against Tanner Tate and a struggling Marion team. Jake Hollingsworth will have a big night for the boys from Independence.
Anthony: Marion is coming off a bye week looking for a win. A trip to Independence won’t help their cause. After three wins to start the season, Grayson County will be looking to rebound after a loss to Glenvar. I’ll take the Blue Devils as the big favorites in this one.
Ryan: Grayson is coming off a lopsided loss at the hands of Class 2 title contenders Glenvar. Marion is coming off of a bye week that may have come at the right time. Home field is worth 3 points, so give me the Blue Devils to squeak this one out.
Auburn at George Wythe:
Brady: Other than missing a last second field goal against Narrows, Auburn has strung together a pretty solid campaign thus far. George Wythe has been impressive in the beginning as well. They are coming off a 39-0 thumping at the hands of arguably the best team in southwest Virginia this past Friday. I think they will rebound at home to get the bad taste that the Warriors left in their mouth last week to get the victory in front of the Maroon faithful.
Anthony: The Maroons are unaccustomed to being 2-2 at this time of year and still hurting from a 39-0 beat down by Chilhowie. Auburn is off to a solid start and will be on their home turf. I’ll have to favor George Wythe to get back in the win column.
Ryan: George Wythe has been a bit of an enigma this season. They’ve looked the part of a perennial power in the 1C ranks at times, and at times they’ve looked more like an average Class A squad. Either way, I think it’s enough to get past Auburn. Give me the Maroons.
Rye Cove at Castlewood:
Brady: Rye Cove has been playing its best football over the past few weeks. I look for that to continue this Friday in Castlewood. The Blue Devils are looking for their first win in 2018, though. I think they will get that this Friday. Castlewood has not lost to the Golden Eagles in a long time. While all streaks are meant to be broken, this one will remain in tact for another year. Castlewood gets their first win at home.
Anthony: Wins have been hard to come by for Rye Cove for several years on the football field. They do have a notch in the win column this year defeating Hancock County, Tennessee and just suffered a heartbreaking 14-13 loss at Thomas Walker. The Eagles last defeated the Devils in 2011. After being stung by graduation losses, the Blue Devils are looking for their first win. Look for power back Brue Mullins to have a big night and Castlewood win a close one at B.C. White Stadium.
Ryan: This game excites me. Sure, the records aren’t great. But there is some optimism from fans at the Cove. Castlewood is winless, but they’ve played some decent teams this season. I’m lone-wolfing it here, but I’m going to take the Eagles to get it done on the road.
COALFIELDSPORTS.COM GAME OF THE WEEK: Honaker at Grundy:
Brady: This one really comes down to one thing for me—home field advantage and Gabe Fiser. The winner of this game will likely be the Black Diamond District champion at season’s end. The matchup features two of the best tailbacks in southwest Virginia. Doug Hubbard knows how to win football games. However, there is not a player that will be on the field Friday that is as talented as Gabe Fiser, who has ran for 757 yards already this season. I will take the Golden Wave in this one.
Anthony: Honaker is undefeated, and Grundy has only one loss to Class 2 powerhouse Ridgeview. The Golden Wave are the defending Black Diamond District champion and can go a long way toward securing the 2018 title with a victory over Honaker. Give the edge to talented running back Gabe Fiser and the Golden Wave with the contest being played at Slate Creek.
Ryan: Our game of the week is also likely the Black Diamond District championship. Honaker has enjoyed a resurgence this season, already matching their win total from 2017. Grundy has the lone blemish against Ridgeview, but they’ve looked stellar against competition their size. I like what Coach Hubbard is doing in Swords Creek, but Fiser is too much. Golden Wave by a couple of touchdowns.
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.