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: 28-7 (Eugene Hilton: 3-2, Lloyd Combs: 5-0, Rick Baker 4-1, Casey Goetz 3-2, Anthony Stevens 5-0, Chase Parker 4-1, Nolan Knight 4-1)
Trivia Question picker: 9-1 (Dakota Hamilton 5-0, Michael Dotson 4-1)
WOAY’s Nolan Knight finished 4-1 with his lone loss being in Galax’s romping of Fort Chiswell. Nolan is now in that second place tie with Chase Parker and Rick Baker amongst the guest standings. Thank you Nolan for participating!
This week’s guest picker is Frank “The Madman” Browning. Frank is a 1986 graduate of Tazewell High School. During his time in Kelly green, Browning played for Nick Colobro, Mick Lusk and Dave Lisk. During this timespan, the Bulldogs were 35-9. Frank is a sales manager at Ramey Automotive in Richlands. The Madman is a huge football fan. In particularly, the Pittsburgh Steelers where his fandom originated his nickname, “the Steel City Madman.” Frank is in his second year of his show “Madman in the Morning,” which airs on WRIC 97.7 FM and on The Madman’s Facebook @madmaninthemorning each Thursday. This is Frank’s platform for “Madman Turns Santa.” “Madman Turns Santa” was started a year ago to help children in the area get the Christmas that they deserve. Last year, Browning helped 18 local children have a Merry Christmas. The Madman’s goal this year is to help 40 local children. To nominate a child, all you have to do is send a letter telling of another family with children explaining why they need a Merry Christmas. You can send letters and donations to The Madman P.O. Box 625 Cedar Bluff, VA 24609. We are happy to support The Madman and his goal to make sure every child has a great Christmas.
Last week’s trivia question winner, Michael Dotson, went 4-1 as the trivia question picker. Michael’s setback came in southern West Virginia. Dotson thought the Montcalm Generals would walk out victorious, however, RiverView upended the Mercer County bunch. Be sure to check out Michael’s work on Facebook at Buchanan County Sports.
This week the trivia winner is Jeff Atwell. Thanks for playing, Jeff!
The five games are: Blacksburg at Pulaski County, Castlewood at Lebanon, Lord Botetourt at Bluefield, George Wythe at Galax and the CoalfieldSports.com Game of the Week, Grundy at J.I. Burton.
Let’s get to it!
Blacksburg at Pulaski County:
Brady: This one has the makes of being one of a classic at Kenneth J. Dobson Stadium. The people from Pulaski and Dublin will have the place rocking. The Cougars are off to their best start in years. They are one point away from this being a battle of the undefeated. Kade Akers is the best quarterback the Bruins faced all season last year in my opinion. He has the weapons outside with E.J. Horton. Gage Mannon has also proved to be a weapon for the Cougars. However, I have seen too much from Grant Johnston, Tiquest Terry and Thomas Coffey over the years to doubt the Bruins. I think Blacksburg wins one in the Cougar den that the people in the New River Valley will be talking about for awhile.
Frank: I think this will be a close game. This River Ridge District matchup will have talent spread all over the field. However, in the end, I think the Bruins have more talent than the Cougars and will come back to Blacksburg with a win.
Ryan: This is a game the Cougars have had circled for a year. After a thrashing at the hands of the Bruins last year, Pulaski is looking for some revenge. The issue? They won’t be getting it this week. Blacksburg and Terry will be too much for Akers and Horton this week.
Castlewood at Lebanon:
Brady: Two Russell County rivals meeting in the county seat on Friday. This is a sneakily great game. Lebanon won its lone game a year ago against the Blue Devils. Brue Mullins and Castlewood have been hot as of late, stringing together three straight wins. If Lebanon wants to get into the win column, it will be in this one. Seth Stanley has been one of the best running backs in the Southwest District this season. However, I think that Castlewood has found the recipe for victory and don’t quite let it slip to the Chum Bucket just yet. Blue Devils take this one.
Frank: Seth Stanley will keep his production up in this one. Castlewood has been hot. However, Stanley and the Pioneers will keep Brue Mullins and the Blue Devil offense off the field on the way to Lebanon’s first win.
Ryan: Castlewood is on a three game winning streak after starting the season winless. Lebanon has been the victim of a team with extremely low numbers for a Class 2 school. This game will decide who takes home 2nd place honors in Russell County. I’ll take Lebanon this year.
Lord Botetourt at Bluefield:
Brady: If you have a Bluefield jersey on, you can put points on the board. The Beavers are the best team in the CoalfieldSports area. It is not even close. This will be the toughest test they face all season. Lord Botetourt is not a stranger to football in far southwest Virginia. Especially their front man Jamie Harless. The head coach of the Cavaliers brings his southwest Virginian mindset to the air conditioned city. Harless played at Abingdon where he was an all-state defensive lineman. However, the athleticism of Fred Simon’s team is too much for the tough Cavaliers.
Frank: Bluefield has more size than anyone around. Anyone for the Beavers is a threat to score at anytime. Lord Botetourt will be their toughest test of the year. However, the Beavers and their size will wear down the Cavaliers in the second half to squeak out a win.
Ryan: This is easily the toughest test for a loaded Bluefield team all season. Botty is a Class 3 school in Virginia, and Coach Harless knows how to get it done. Richlands and Graham may have shown a weakness in the armor, however, as both had success on the ground. Lord Botetourt will run the ball 97% of the plays. In the end, I think Bluefield just has too many playmakers and too much speed. Beavers win.
George Wythe at Galax:
Brady: There will be a lot of maroon in Galax when the Maroons and the Maroon Tide meet for battle. I think it will be a surprise for Galax to hiccup from here on out. I think Mark Dixon and the gang find a way to stop Simmons and the GW offense early.
Frank: Galax has had the Maroons number in recent years. The Maroon Tide have been tested early and has proved to be legit. I think Blake Brown leads Mark Dixon’s squad to victory.
Ryan: This game has some juice. George Wythe hasn’t won this matchup since 2015. Galax has surprisingly went to a more spread attack after years of ground and pound behind the Peoples’ brothers. I think the streak continues, and Mark Dixon is happy at the end of a Galax win.
COALFIELDSPORTS.COM GAME OF THE WEEK: Grundy at J.I. Burton:
Brady: Grundy has a chip on its shoulder in this one. After defeating Burton in the regular season, the Raiders ended the Golden Wave’s seasonat Nelson Memorial Field in the playoffs. Gabe Fiser is playing better than anyone in southwest Virginia right now. In a pig-wrestling pit last week, he still churned out 150+ yards on the ground. After getting the last bit of mud out of his ears Friday morning, I think he can lead the Wave to an avenging victory in the City of Norton.
Frank: Gabe Fiser has been a man on a mission for Grundy this season. This will not change Friday in Norton. Grundy is seeking revenge after the Raiders ousted them from the playoffs a year ago. Fiser has not forgotten. Look for the Golden Wave tailback to rush for 278 yards in a Grundy victory.
Ryan: This game has so many layers. Grundy is 5-1 after an opening week loss to Ridgeview. Burton is 4-2 after consecutive losses to Union and Chilhowie. Grundy features Gabe Fiser, who potentially is the best running back in the area. Burton features Houston Thacker, who may be the best quarterback in the area. Ultimately, Grundy will live and die on the legs of Fiser and the Raiders have both a run and passing game. Raiders win to move to 5-2.
Jeff: J.I. Burton.
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.