Tommy Keeler Jr.: Lots up in the air for playoffs
By Tommy Keeler Jr.
With two weeks left in the regular season, there’s a lot at stake the next two weeks in high school football.
Right now, there are three local teams that are pretty much in the playoffs. With the way the system is these days, it’s hard to know for sure when a team has clinched, but I think it’s safe to say that Sherando, Skyline and Strasburg are all in. It’s simply a matter of what seed they would be.
Warren County is in a playoff position, and if the Wildcats can win their last two games, they will make the postseason. Central is on the outside looking in, but if they win out, they could make things interesting. Stonewall Jackson is in the same position it was in last year, still searching for a win. Last year, the Generals beat Page County in the last game of the season for their only win, and if they can’t beat Luray tonight, they will definitely have a chance to beat Page County again this year.
First, I’ll take a look at the three teams that are safely in.
Sherando is currently the fifth seed in the 4A North. The Warriors, of course, were the Group 4A state runners-up last year, but lost a lot to graduation. While they may not be quite the team they were last year, they are still a team to be reckoned with in the postseason. The Warriors will host Skyline tonight in a game that’s basically for the Northwestern District title. Sherando plays at Millbrook next week to close out the regular season. If the Warriors can win out, they would definitely lock up a home game, and may do that even if they were to lose both of the games. Seeding position is important, and so each team is trying to position itself for a successful postseason run.
Skyline has been on a roll. The Hawks have won four straight games, and five of their last six. The Hawks are coming off a victory over Handley last week, and would love nothing more than to win their second district title in three years. Skyline should get a home game no matter what, but a win over Sherando would vault them up even higher in the 3A East pecking order. The Hawks have played well on defense all season, and now the offense is really clicking as well.
Strasburg has also won four games in a row. The Rams have picked it up on defense, and the offense is rolling up the points week after week. Strasburg started off 1-3, but some of the young players are improving and clearly the team is coming together. Strasburg hosts Warren County tonight and plays at Central next week. If the Rams can win out, it would definitely move them into a home game in Region 2A East. There are some strong teams in the region, and the higher up Strasburg can position itself the better opportunity the Rams will have in November.
Warren County started off the season 0-5, but has been on a roll with three straight wins, including beating Central last week. The Wildcats have started to play better on both sides of the ball, and are now in 15th place in 3A East. They moved up five spots in the rankings after their win over Central. The Wildcats play at Strasburg and then will host Madison County. If they can pick up two wins, they will be in the playoffs. One victory could get them in, but things are very close in 3A East and their best bet is just to keep winning. It’s been an impressive turnaround for the Wildcats and they certainly have momentum on their side.
Central is currently tied for the 22nd spot in 3A East. Despite that, the Falcons are only 1.3 points out of 16th, so they could still have an outside chance, but will certainly need some help. Central dropped five spots with a loss last week to the Wildcats. The Falcons host Madison County and then Strasburg. Central has been a little up and down, in part due to having a young and inexperienced squad. However, if the Falcons can play their best at the right time, they could make the playoffs and make some noise once they get there. Central has one of the top offenses in the area, but has struggled finishing off drives at times this season. Turning that around in the final two games could be a big key to success.
It seems like every year we have quite a few teams make the playoffs, and do some damage when they get there. I think that trend will continue this season. Some of the teams in the area had slow starts, but I think there could be at least one surprise team this season, which puts together a big postseason run.
Anything can happen this time of the year, and that’s what makes it special and my favorite time of the high school season.
Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or firstname.lastname@example.org