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:
Eugene Hilton went 3-2 last week in his debut as the CoalfieldSports guest picker.
This week, longtime sports broadcaster and writer, Lloyd Combs, joins Ryan and Brady as this week’s guest picker.
Lloyd has served as a sportscaster for over 40 years. The James Madison University graduate has also served as a sports writer for 30 years. Over the years, Lloyd has broadcast on 10 different radio stations, while his stories have appeared in 12 different newspapers. Combs is the author of four books, Coalfield Dreams; These are Their Stories; The Front Row and Score By Score/Year By Year. In our region, Lloyd is well known for his work in the Virginia Mountaineer, Bristol Herald Courier and the Bluefield Daily Telegraph covering Buchanan County and the Black Diamond District. You can also catch Lloyd each Friday on 100.7 FM WMJD for Grundy, Twin Valley or Hurley football.
This week, the five games are: Narrows at Bland, Galax at Radford, Montcalm at Twin Valley, Graham at Tazewell and the CoalfieldSports.com Game of the Week, Union at Richlands.
Let’s get to it!
Narrows at Bland:
Brady: Both of these teams had a completely different week one. Although they both found themselves in the win column, they both came at different paces. Narrows sweated on out at Auburn where they hung on at the end with a missed Auburn field goal. Bland cruised in their matchup with the Craig County Rockets. Although Bland returns 19 starters, I believe the experience of Wyatt Freeman and the Green Wave will help Narrows move to 2-0.
Lloyd: Narrows held off Auburn last week. The momentum from their best season in years may have carried over into this season. Bland County also opened the season with a win, but Narrows should have the edge in this matchup between two former Mountain Empire District foes.
Ryan: The Battle for Wolf Creek. That sounds eerily similar to my golf club vs. the lake at Wolf Creek Golf Club. Luckily, this is a football game and not a golf expo, and both of these teams are coming off a win in week one. Give me the Green Wave of Narrows in a matchup that is close midway into the second half before talent and coaching lets Narrows win by a couple scores.
Galax at Radford:
Brady: Last year, this one was worth the price of admission with Galax squeaking out a 17-14 win. Galax has a new identity on offense and they look to avenge a week one loss to Glenvar. I don’t think that Mark Dixon will drop to 0-2. Although, the Bobcats seem to have things gelling early behind PJ Prioleau, I think the Maroon Tide pick up the win in the City of Radford.
Lloyd: Turnovers killed Galax in last week’s loss to Glenvar and helped Radford get past George Wythe last week. Look for Galax to rebound against a young Radford team this week.
Ryan: This is a game that wasn’t on my radar in the pre-season. I was unsure of what Radford had this season after being down last year, and Galax always seemed to start off slowly. The Tide impressed me by keeping up with Glenvar last week, and I think Radford will be a decent 2C team. That being said, give me Galax. Coaching makes all the difference in this one.
Montcalm (WV) at Twin Valley:
Brady: For the second straight week the Panthers will take on an opponent from across state lines. After a big win in the Bluegrass state in week one, the Panthers seem to be clicking, especially on the ground. Brandon Lester was sensational last week with eight tackles on defense and 139 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. Panthers quarterback, Tylor Keen, also rushed for 138 yards and two touchdowns in the victory. If Montcalm cannot stop the potent rushing attack of Twin Valley, it will be a long ride back to Rock. Jeremy Ward moves to 2-0 as the head coach in Pilgrim’s Knob.
Lloyd: The Panthers held an 8-4 edge over Montcalm in this intense interstate rivalry, including last year’s bitter 22-20 loss to the Generals. Montcalm has more experience back up front and Twin Valley returns more experience in the skill positions, so this year should be another close one. Look for Tylor Keen and company to have an edge at home.
Ryan: Last year’s game was a wild one on the Knob. I expect this one to be no different. Twin Valley has a good one-two punch in Lester and Keen. I think that ultimately does the Generals in. Give me Twin Valley by three.
Graham at Tazewell:
Brady: There is some bad blood in this one, as is the case in all county rivalries. Tazewell shocked a lot of people last week by making Virginia High sweat it out. I think this week will draw a larger crowd to Bulldog Stadium, as well as higher expectations. Chancellor Harris and Josiah Jordan can cause problems for Tazewell, but in the end, Cameron Allen can make more plays. The G-Men find the win column for the first time in 2018.
Lloyd: The G-Men has dominated this Tazewell County series the last three years, but Tazewell is on the upswing. They proved it last week in the second half against Virginia High. Tazewell’s youth and Graham’s size and experience should give the G-Men the edge again this year.
Ryan: A Tazewell County rivalry that’s full of hate. Neither team likes the other, and this one has some fuel to the fire after the student Twitter account for Tazewell took a shot at Graham. The G-Men are not a team you want to upset, and I’m afraid they are now mad. Dawgs are getting better, but Graham rolls in this one.
COALFIELDSPORTS.COM GAME OF THE WEEK: Union at Richlands:
Brady: This has been one of the best games in the Commonwealth since 2011. It is always a true treat. Ernie Hicks Stadium will see and overflow capacity as the two perennial powers meet on the gridiron. This one is a toss up, however, at the end of the day, Richlands has and edge with the home field advantage. Avery Jenkins will cause trouble for a Richlands defense that only allowed Gate City to 79 yards of total offense a weak ago. This will be a true test and measuring stick for both teams. Levi Forrest will be the hero in Richlands on Friday.
Lloyd: The rivalry is only seven years old since Union opened its doors in 2011, but it has been unmatched in the coalfields since its first game. Six of the eight have been decided by three points or less. Avery Jenkins could be the difference in this one. Union leads the series 5-3 and should make it 6-3 after Friday night.
Ryan: The game of the week has it’s own hashtag: #TheGame. There’s nothing that hasn’t been said about this rivalry. An eight-game series that has likely taken 18 years off my life with the wild dramatic finishes. Strength vs. weakness for both sides, so this one will either be a high scoring shootout, or one where neither team can find the end zone. Taking the heart over the head in this one: Blues by 3.
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.