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Keeler: Playoff action worth catching

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Tommy Keeler


By Tommy Keeler Jr.

I love this time of the year. There's nothing quite like football playoffs, and things are off to a great start this year.

The first round of the playoffs had a little bit of everything, and today's games should provide more of the same.

Obviously, we have two big games today with Strasburg at Central in a big rematch, while Kettle Run plays at Skyline, also a rematch. However, this area won't be the only one with plenty of drama this weekend in high school football action.

First, let's take a look back at last week.

In our area, we had some good games last weekend. Even though Sherando and Warren County lost, they each put up a fight against quality teams. Skyline and Central didn't have too much trouble with Loudoun Valley and Amelia, while Strasburg rallied for a win against Nottoway.

The Rams were the five seed, while the Cougars were the 12th seed, which brings me to a recurring theme from last week. When it comes to the playoffs, seedings mean very little.

Typically, I don't pay a whole lot of attention to games involving a No. 1 seed against a No. 16 seed, but last week definitely got my attention. In the Group A, Eastern Section, top-seeded Essex struggled to beat No. 16 Luray. It was a 10-0 team against a 3-7 team -- should've been a beat-down, right? Instead Essex and its 51 points-per-game average struggled to score and led only 16-6 at the half on its way to a 28-12 win.

It goes to show that nothing is a given. It doesn't matter what you do in the regular season, it's a brand new season and anything can happen.

There were many more examples like the Essex-Luray one. Two-time defending state champion and top-seeded Briar Woods was tied at the half with No. 8 seed Powhatan in the AA, Region II, Division 4 quarterfinals. No. 7 seed Millbrook hung tough for a half with No. 2 seed Tuscarora in another Region II, Division 4 matchup.

In the Division 2, Eastern Section playoffs, No. 2 seed Goochland was tied at the half with 15 seed Windsor. No. 3 King William struggled to defeat No. 14 Madison County.

There were also plenty of upsets. In the Division 2, Western Section, No. 14 Stuarts Draft beat No. 3 Dan River and No. 11 Union beat No. 6 Graham, and now the 14 and 11 seeds will play each other in the second round. In the Division 1, Eastern Section, No. 12 William Campbell knocked off No. 5 West Point.

What all of this shows is that records mean nothing once you get into the playoffs. Some teams have tougher schedules, and play in tougher districts. Each week any team that steps on the field has a chance to win, and that's exactly the way it should be.

Starting next year with the new conference alignment all of the classes will be using the system that Group A does, and clearly the results this season show it will work. There will be blowouts and lopsided games, but there will also be plenty of competitive games and upsets.

This week there are going to be some very interesting games throughout the state. Obviously, two of them are in our area.

One of the more interesting games this week will be Loudoun County at Tuscarora in a Dulles District clash. The Huskies beat the Raiders earlier this season.

Another great matchup features Riverheads against Wilson Memorial in a rematch of a regular-season battle, won by the Green Hornets. Much like the Central-Strasburg game, this will be a big game between rivals.

In some ways, it's a shame that so many of these matchups are happening so early in the playoffs, but it certainly makes it fun for the fans in the various communities.

Perhaps the best thing about this time of the year is that there's usually always a playoff game going on somewhere close by each week of the postseason. So even if the team you root for isn't still in it, you can still go out and watch some great, exciting football.

And I'm not sure life can get much better than that.

Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com






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