Private School Battles

Private school battles

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Woodberry Forest (2-1) at Fork Union (1-2) 2 p.m. Saturday

The Basics: The Tigers suffered their first defeat against a very talented McDonogh team while the Blue Devils got an unexpected week off after Episcopal was forced to cancel its trip down to Fork Union because of health problems. In 2007 and 2008, this was as good a game as you could find with both teams winning on their home fields in overtime. Last year both football giants met with pristine records, but the Tigers won in a one-sided affair. However, the stars of the last three games have since moved on. Is this game headed back to overtime status?

Key Matchup: Woodberry’s defensive line versus Fork Union quarterback Christian Hackenburg. These teams are very much alike, both love to pound the rock and lean on big, strong defenses. But Hackenburg has shown a lot of poise under center and with dangerous receivers D.J. Randle-el and Nick Naimool, the Tigers will need to make sure the sophomore quarterback is under constant pressure.

Who to Watch: Rue Hockensmith for Woodberry and Andre Parker for FUMA. Both players are bruising backs. Both are equally if not more dangerous at linebacker. These two-way talents dictate the action on both sides of  the ball, and whoever has the bigger day will go a long way into determining the outcome.

SP Line: Fork Union by 1. The bye week definitely helps the Blue Devils here, and while this is ought to be an incredibly tight game between two mean defenses, the Blue Devils appear to have the more balanced offense right now.

Covenant (0-4) at Blue Ridge (2-2) 4 p.m. Friday

The Basics: Two years ago this one was an epic, close battle decided in the waining moments of the fourth quarter. Last year, Blue Ridge rolled 33-6. If Covenant is going to prevent another runaway, this time on the road, the Eagles will have to slow down a Barons rushing attack that’s getting its legs under it after piling up over 400 yards against Flint Hill last week. 

Key matchup: Blue Ridge’s athletic secondary takes on Covenant quarterback Lee Coppock. The senior has been prolific this year with 671 yards, but teams like Atlantic Shores had a lot of success forcing pressure up the middle against the Eagles’ offensive line. Covenant better be prepared, because Blue Ridge will likely bring the heat.

Player to watch: Blue Ridge’s Mayn Francisco. Francisco burned Flint Hill for 188 yards on just 13 touches. Can he make it back-to-back big time performances.

Line: Blue Ridge by 10. The Barons are starting to hit their stride, and Covenant is running into them at the wrong time.

St. Christopher’s (4-0) at STAB (4-0) 7 p.m. Friday

The Basics: It’s easiest to start with common opponents with these two. Both squads beat St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes, St. Chris by 10 and STAB by six. Last season, St. Chris won big against STAB but with both teams unbeaten, there’s a lot on the line this time around. St. Christopher’s rolled last week 35-0 over Norfolk Academy with junior quarterback Rob Vozenilek throwing for 195 yards. STAB will have to find a way to contain the first year starter at quarterback.

Key matchup: STAB quarterback Charlie Murray faces a St. Chris defensive unit that hasn’t been scored on in two weeks. Can Murray continue his development and unlock St. Chris’ defense?

Player to watch: St. Anne’s’ Branford Rogers. If the STAB running back is in the lineup, St. Anne’s will have a much better shot to knock off the No.2-ranked St. Christopher’s squad.

Line: Push. St. Christopher’s may be number two in Division I, but that playing at STAB on a Friday night is no easy task. This one could come down to the wire.

Monticello (2-2) at Fluvanna County (2-2) 7:30 p.m. Friday

The Basics: After running all over Orange County, mental mistakes doomed Monticello last week. On the other hand, Fluvanna was all-over Western Albemarle, much to the delight of Warrior alumnus and now Fluco coach, Jason Barnett. The Mustangs’ ground game is impressive whether its Jesse Ayres or Isaac Robinson carrying the ball. The Flucos' defense has been impressive in each game, and they showed their up to the task of stopping teams that excel on the ground as they locked down Buckingham County in a loss two weeks ago.

Key Matchup: No doubt about it, the Monticello front five versus the Fluvanna front seven. If the Flucos can slow the Mustangs rushing attack, they’ll be in good shape. But that’s no easy task and it’s going to be a battle amongst the big kids that will likely decided it. Both squads have size in the trenches.

Who to Watch: Fluvanna’s Yaya Anderson. The Flucos offense transforms when he’s on the field. They’ll need a big play threat to match Monticello’s Deno Robinson.

SP Line: Monticello by 4. The backfield combo of Ayres and Robinson take over.

Orange County (2-2) at Goochland (3-1) 7:30 p.m. Friday

The Basics: The Hornets took care of business on the road in a hard fought battle against Monticello. Isaiah Ferguson continues to provide electric plays, this past week taking the opening kickoff back to the house – just another big play threat Orange's opponents have to watch. The Bulldogs laid it on thick on Charlottesville while avenging last year's loss.  Goochland is getting back to basics, which very simply means hammering the ball. But this will be their biggest test since dropping the season opener against Benedictine.

Key Matchup: The Orange linebacking corps versus Goochland’s stable of backs. The Hornets struggled to bring down Monticello’s runners. The Bulldogs are committed to running the ball and will key in any weakness Orange shows on the ground game.

Who to Watch: Orange’s Amir Waller. The senior wideout was quiet, and for good reason as Monticello gameplanned to take him out of the mix. If Goochland does the same, that’s good news for Johnny Adamson and Tyler Seal. If not, look out.

SP Line: Hornets by 2. Defensively, the Bulldogs have been vulnerable to the pass.

Buckingham County (5-0) at Manassas Park (3-0) 7:30 p.m. Friday

The Basics: The Knights rattled visiting Chatham last week with an all-around beating. The Cougars are back after half of a month off. That’s right, Manassas Park is coming off of a two week break from football after improving to 3-0 with a 27-0 stomping of Colonial Beach. So while Buckingham is on the downhill of its schedule, Manassas will be trying to jump into mid-season play after a lengthy layoff.

Key Matchup: The Knights' offensive line versus Cougars defensive tackle Bobby Jackson. Jackson earned an All-Region B nod at the position last year, and Buckingham gets the job done on offense when running back Maurice Taylor can hit the edges and quarterback Tarian Ayers gets a chance to look down field to his talented receiving corps.

Who to Watch: Buckingham receiver Antonn Briley. Over the last two weeks, Briley’s established himself as a redzone rushing threat and that extra wrinkle in the Knights' offense caught Fluvanna County and Chatham by surprise. If Buckingham is getting points by using Briley on end-arounds, that takes a lot of pressure off of Taylor.

SP Line: Buckingham by 4. This team is rolling right now. They’ve been tested and passed each time so far.

Page (0-3) at Madison (3-1) 7:30 p.m. Friday

The Basics: Something’s clicking for the Mountaineers right now. Since falling to William Monroe in a rough offensive showing, Madison has scored 56 and 55 points in its last two games. Suffice to say, you don’t lose many games when you’re more than halfway to 100. The Mountaineers have a reasonable chance to replicate another monster night of scoring with Page coming to Eddie Dean Field. The Panthers are winless and fell to Strasburg 36-22 last week. Page has surrendered 26 points or more in all three of its losses.

Key Matchup: The Panthers' secondary versus Travis Warren and Rashad Bolden. We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again now, when Madison’s receivers are making big plays, everything opens up for running backs Maurice Gentry and Ralph Yates. Madison quarterback Warren has hit the two 14 times to the tune of 356 yards.

Who to Watch: Madison linebacker Bradley Meadows. With the offense establishing a strong identity, look for the senior All-Region B talent to help the defense do its part. Page’s offense was much improved last week after getting shutout by Covington. With all the dangerous weapons on offense getting a lot of attention, don’t be surprised if the defense tries to steal the spotlight. Meadows knows how to lay the wood and get the Madison crowd riled up.

SP Line: Mountaineers by 10. A struggling defense goes up against an offense that’s made one big play after another.

Charlottesville (0-4, 0-1 JD) at William Monroe (2-2, 0-1 JD) 7:30 p.m. Friday

The Basics: The Dragons are playing sound football right now, and if not for the devastating final three minutes of the first half unleashed by Louisa County, the Dragons may have take the powerful Lions down to the wire. The Black Knights, on the other hand, are still searching for answers after suffering through a series of four tough losses and three straight shutouts.

Key matchup: The Charlottesville front seven takes on Monroe’s efficient, relentless running game. The Dragons are going to run — don’t doubt that for a second. Quarterback Mitchell Morris has improved drastically, but the bread and butter is the run game. The Black Knights will have to be well-prepared to hold Doug Sizemore in check.

Player to watch: Monroe defensive back Tony Morris-Cousins. The Black Knights have struggled with turnovers and Morris-Cousins took a pick to the house earlier this season. Could he come up with another big play?

Line: Monroe by 10. The Dragons should be able to get back above .500 in this one.

Albemarle (2-2, 0-1 Commonwealth) at Colonial Forge (4-0, 1-0) 7:30 p.m. Friday

The Basics: The Patriots tough slate gets tougher with a road trip to take on the defending district champions. The Eagles are as balanced as it gets, with a run game that piled up 343 yards on the ground last week and an explosive passing offense.

Key matchup: Albemarle’s defensive backs take on wideout Tim Scott, a talented pass catcher who had a pair of touchdowns and 54 yards against Massaponax. Scott committed to North Carolina this summer, bypassing offers from ECU, Maryland, Virginia, Tennessee and West Virginia. They’ll also contend with a West Virginia commit, tight end Eric Frohnapfel.

Player to watch: Colonial Forge quarterback and Marshall commitment Blake Frohnapfel, Eric’s twin brother. The dual threat quarterback unleashed 112 yards and three touchdowns on the ground last week against Massaponax while throwing for another two and going 7-for-10 passing. 

Line: Colonial Forge by 14. Forge has too much firepower for the Patriots.

Western (1-3) at Louisa County (4-0) 7:30 p.m. Friday

The Basics: Last year this game was a critical early proving ground in the Jefferson District. This year, Louisa appears to be separating itself from the field while Western is, well, headed in the other direction. This matchup ended last year with some uneasiness between the two coaching staffs after a Western win. Louisa might get to exact a little revenge in the Jungle, on homecoming of all nights.

Key matchup: The turnover battle. Western Albemarle struggled with turning the ball over against Fluvanna. They’ll have to cut down them against a Louisa team that usually knows how to take care of the ball.

Player to watch: Louisa County’s Raheem "Peanut" Morris. The freshman wideout had a breakout game against Monroe. If he continues to stretch out opposing defenses, Louisa’s powerful run game will only become more effective.

Line: Louisa by 14. Lions started slow against Monroe, but last year’s loss to Western should have the Louisa faithful and the roster fired up Friday night.


Coach K

I would have to second guess your asessment of Goochland vs. Orange. If a team makes mistakes against Goochland, Goochland makes them pay and I think Orange will make a lot of mistakes. As far as for pass defense, I was really impressed with the LB's of Goochland. They make great adjustments against the pass and take away that short passing game. If Orange is going to pass, they will need to go deep.

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