Region D, 1A Quarterfinals
John I. Burton Raiders (9-2, 5-0): 30
Holston Cavaliers (6-5, 1-2): 6
NORTON, Va.,-By the end of Saturday’s game, the only way to tell the two teams apart was by the joyful expressions from the victorious Raiders’ squad compared to the collective dejected look coming from the Cavaliers who came up short. In a game that saw the muddy conditions play a major part, the John I. Burton Raiders dispatched visiting Holston 30-6 in the first round of the Region D, 1A playoffs.
The home team struck first when Najee Steele found the end zone from eight yards out. Fullback Mikey Culbertson converted the two point attempt to give Burton an 8-0 lead. That proved to be the only scoring of the first half, with both defenses (and the conditions) leading the way.
The second half belonged to the Raiders. Houston Thacker, the senior leader under center, found his favorite target, Derrick Allen, for a touchdown from 22 yards out to strike first after the break. Steele converted the two point attempt to push the lead to 16-0. Holston answered when quarterback Leo Ezzell found Ethan Guerrero behind the defense for a 72-yard touchdown pass. The two point try failed but the Cavaliers drew within ten, 16-6.
Once the fourth quarter began, the home team took over. Burton scored twice in the final stanza, first on a four yard run from Thacker and then the backbreaker, a 95-yard touchdown jaunt from Culbertson to seal the win. Culbertson was the game’s leading rusher, going for 136 yards on 14 carries.
Thacker was outstanding in all areas, posting a 10-of-21 line passing for 118 yards and one touchdown, rushing for another score, snagging an interception on defense as well. His counterpart did not enjoy the same success. The combination of a feisty Raider defense and a field of mud served to force Leo Ezzell into two interceptions and only allowing him to convert 35% of his passes (7-of-20). Austin Faris was the leading rusher for the Cavaliers, gaining 53 yards on 14 rushes.
The victory pushed Burton coach Jimbo Adams’ record in playoff openers to 16-2 and a perfect 15-0 at home. Burton, the third seed, will travel to take on second seeded Patrick Henry (10-1, 5-0) in the Region D semi finals.
For complete playoff coverage, visit coalfieldsports.com
Seth. Sports fan. Big Stone Gap native. Freelance writer. Knows the difference between a 3-4 and a 4-3 as well as the species of the symbiote from Spider-Man (Klyntar). A decade plus covering local high school sport in one capacity or another. Takes himself very, very seriously. Hire me!!!!