A capacity crowd is sure to watch two SWVA powers play on Saturday on the Ridge (photo by David Moore)
Two Southwest Virginia football powers will finally meet on the gridiron on Saturday. One of those is a program on the rise in the Ridgeview Wolfpack. The other, a mainstay in the upper echelon of football powers in the coalfields, the Richlands Blue Tornado.
The Blue Tornado comes into the regional semifinal on the coattails of a three-game winning streak. Those victories include an overtime thriller against Virginia High and an opening round playoff victory over Grayson County. The win last week over the Blue Devils in Independence was a slobber knocker that was won on the defensive side of the ball in tough, muddy field conditions.
Another key factor in the contest was the leg of kicker Levi “Fle” Forrest. The Richlands junior is one of the top kickers in the state and is getting looks from several D1 programs. He made a 29 yard field goal and befuddled Grayson County with his high, booming punts.
Coach Greg Mance looks to test the Ridgeview secondary of Jacob Hensley, Carson Sykes and Quinn Turner with his aerial assault which features quarterback Race Moir. Trey Brown is Moir’s counterpart in the backfield and is a capable runner when Moir isn’t looking to pass. Taylor Horn is the top receiver for the Blues and can take it to the house on any throw in his direction.
The Wolfpack defeated Wise Central in the first round in a rematch of an earlier season meeting. The Pack were not tested and the game was decided in the first twelve minutes. Matthew Sexton led the ground and pound assault of the Pack a week ago, churning out 153 yards on the ground on only seven carries with four touchdowns. Trenton Adkins received his fair share of the workload as well finishing the contest with 142 yards on eleven carries with two scores.
The Wolfpack defense forced five turnovers, all in the first half, against Wise Central and have excelled this season of forcing fumbles. Alijah Sproles is also a threat, punishing quarterbacks and ball carriers alike with his monster hits. McKenzie Sproles, the brother of Alijah, will also be back on defense this week as well as offense after returning from a one game suspension.
The Wolfpack, with the win over Wise Central, secured their first playoff victory in the four year history of the program. In order for the Wolfpack to be considered one of the area’s elite programs, a victory over the Blue Tornado on Saturday is necessary.