The stage is set for Tazewell County’s biggest rivalry.
Greg Mance. J’Me Harris. Race Moir. Chancellor Harris.
Kelly green. Navy blue.
Ernie Hicks Stadium is where two teams are set to take blows for the James C. Ramey Trophy in the CoalfieldSports.com Game of the Week.
The Tazewell Bulldogs (2-3) will make the short trek down 460 West to battle it out with their archrival Richlands Blue Tornado (2-3).
Richlands is coming off a loss to arguably the best football team in West Virginia. A week ago, the Bluefield Beavers unleashed a 44-10 whipping of the Blue Tornado at Ernie Hicks Stadium. The rushing attack of JJ Davis, Jamere Belvins and Arnold Martin proved to be too much for the Blues. Bluefield quarterback Chandler Cooper was 9-of-13 through the air for 208 yards. Cooper found Jahiem House and Ronnel Blevins on the end of scoring throws.
However, the Blues showed they would not go away easy. Richlands tied this contest up at 10 before the Beavers reeled off 23 points in the second quarter points in route to victory.
Richlands quarterback Race Moir was 9-of-23 for 106 yards on the evening. Tornado tailback Trey Brown pounded out 82 yards on the ground off of 18 carries.
Blue Tornado kicker Levi Forrest passed Reece Strong’s school record for the longest field goal in program history when his 52-yard field goal split the uprights in the first quarter.
Going into the matchup with Tazewell, the Blues have played, perhaps, the toughest schedule on this end of the state. Richlands has been battled tested against Union, William Byrd, Blacksburg and Bluefield.
Moir has been phenomenal all season long for the Blues. The senior signal caller has thrown for 907 yards and 10 touchdowns on the season. His big night came in Vinton against William Byrd when the gunslinger amassed 310 yards and three touchdowns through the air. Taylor Horn was on the end of all three of those touchdown receptions. The senior wide receiver amassed 184 yards on seven catches in Vinton on his way to being named the CoalfieldSports.com Offensive Player of the Week in week five.
Both Moir and Horn bring a defensive presence as well. Aside from an arm injury that sidelined Horn for two weeks, the Moir-Horn combination has been unstoppable early.
Tazewell has shown improvement this season. The Bulldogs, like the Blue Tornado, at 2-3.
Tazewell’s biggest exclamation point came last week in a 52-0 shutout win over the Hurley Rebels on its first trip to The Cliff.
Mike Jones and Chancellor Harris each had three touchdowns on the ground in the win.
Jones gained 151 yards on just six carries for Tazewell on his way to being named the CoalfieldSports Offensive Player of the Week in week six. Harris gained 123 yards on 13 carries.
This season, Harris now has 770 yards with 12 touchdowns on the ground.
Tazewell forced five turnovers in Buchanan County. The Bulldog defense intercepted three passes and picked up two fumbles.
In the wins over Hurley and RiverView, the Dogs have been dominant. They also showed promise in their season opener with Virginia High.
However, in rivalry games, records can go out the window. This year’s Brawl, on paper, should be the most competitive in recent years. The Blues are coming off back-to-back shut out wins over Tazewell. Richlands has not fallen to Tazewell since a 12-10 defeat at Bulldog Stadium in 2003. Tazewell has only found itself in the win column against Richlands three times since 1991.
This is one of the most passionate rivalry contests in southwest Virginia. It is also one of the oldest.
In a series that dates back to 1926, Richlands holds a 50-41-2 advantage over Tazewell.
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.