Coming off of a 28-7 victory over Castlewood on October 25th, J.I. Burton is not taking the Blue Devils lightly. Castlewood held a 7-6 lead at halftime of that contest before Mikey Culberton led the charge in the second half as the Raiders scored 22 unanswered points after halftime to grab the crucial Cumberland victory. This will only be the second time these two teams have met in the playoffs with the first matchup coming in 2006, a 35-0 win by J.I. Burton.
Castlewood (6-4) has had a successful year under first year head coach Chris Lark. Castlewood, coming off of a 3-7 season, wasn’t expected to finish as strongly as they did. Castlewood is led by Jeremiah Allen. Allen, a Junior, rushed for 1,057 yards this season to go along with 13 touchdowns. Allen also finished the regular season with 80 tackles on defense. Ben Neece is one of the most physical players in Southwest Virginia and finished the regular season with 85 tackles. Candley Dudley and M.J. Carter are also capable of busting big plays for Larks Blue Devils as the two have combined for 15 rushing touchdowns and over 1,000 rushing yards. Quarterback Collen Dudey has thrown for 435 yards this season with 4 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. Dudleys favorite target this season has been tight end Jacob Vance. Vance has hauled in 13 catches for 165 yards and 3 touchdowns.
J.I. Burton (8-2) is rolling right now. One of the hottest teams in Southwest Virginia coming in to the playoffs, the #2 seed Raiders front an explosive offensive attack along with a physical front on the defensive side of the ball. Coach Caudills Raiders feature three different players that have rushed for more than 600 yards, a quarterback that has throw for over 800 yards and four different receivers that have hauled in touchdown receptions. Esau Teasley leads the charge for the Raiders as he has piled up 866 rushing yards with 13 touchdowns while tacking on 180 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns. Mikey Culberton has churned up 831 rushing yards to go along with 14 touchdowns while Najee Steele has added 14 rushing touchdowns with his 605 rushing yards. Steele is also the teams leading receiver with 15 receptions for 205 yards. Freshman Tre Keys and Teasley lead the team in touchdown receptions with 2 a piece. Coach Caudill also praisers the way his receivers block in the running game and aren’t afraid to throw their bodies around on Friday nights. Jaymen Buchanan has tossed for 815 yards to go along with 6 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. Mikey Culbertson leads the way for the defense as he has accumulated over 500 career tackles from his linebacker position.
J.I. Burton has reeled off 8 consecutive wins coming in to the playoffs while Castlewood has lost two out of their last three contests. The winner of this contest will face off with the winner of the matchup between #3 seed Chilhowie and #6 seed Thomas Walker. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Beaty-Richmond Field at Carl Smith Stadium on the campus of UVA Wise.