Raiders, Wave set for huge 1D matchup

A week after Grundy and J.I. Burton each squeaked out victories in week seven, the slate does not clear up for either team.

The two will meet up in Norton on Friday in the latest edition of the CoalfieldSports.com Game of the Week.

The contest has high implications on how the 1D playoff standings will shake out at season’s end.

There is also much familiarity between these two squads. The Golden Wave took home a win in last season’s regular season matchup, while the Raiders ended Grundy’s season in a rematch at Nelson Memorial Stadium in the first round of the playoffs.

That will be a hot topic on everyone’s mind on Friday when the buses pull into Lawson-Fitchko Stadium.

The Raiders return home after sweating it out at Fuller Field in Honaker a week ago.

Houston Thacker engineered a game-winning drive that was capped off by a 15-yard touchdown strike to Najee Steele in the final seconds. Thacker and the Raiders escaped Russell County with a 37-33 lead. Burton amassed 456 yards of total offense on the turf at Emats Field.

The game winning touchdown was Thacker’s second of the contest. The Raiders quarterback finished 12-of-18 with 119 yards and his pair of touchdowns.

Running back Mikey Culbertson had 133 yards and a touchdown for J.I. Burton.

After dropping their first two contests of the season to Union and Chilhowie, the Raiders have won four and a row to move to 4-2. They also sit atop of the Cumberland District heading into Friday’s contest.

Grundy hits the road for the second consecutive week after leaving The Cliff with a 14-6 victory over the Hurley Rebels.

In a muddy mess, Grundy quarterback Derrick Endicott scored both of the Golden Wave touchdowns. The plunges came a six and three yard carry, respectively.

Although he was unable to break into the end zone, Golden Wave running back Gabe Fiser amassed 164 yards in the district win.

The win marked Grundy’s fifth consecutive win since its opening week loss to Ridgeview. Since that loss in week one, the Golden Wave defense has not allowed more than 16 points.

The win also gave the Golden Wave a clean sweep of the Black Diamond District. For the second straight year, the BDD championship will reside at Grundy High School.

The fact that Burton allowed two 100-yard rushers against Honaker is music to the Golden Wave faithful.

Emotions will be high in this one. This is a contest that Grundy has awaited patiently since before the final bell sounded in Grundy in last year’s playoff matchup.

Ask Craig Plymal, Gabe Fiser or the folks at the Peking buffet. Revenge will be a little sweeter on Friday night.

In a series that dates back to 1941, J.I. Burton holds a 1-2 advantage over Grundy. Before last year, these two teams had not met since the inaugural meeting in 1941.

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.

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