Falcons, Rams ready for showdown

Central's Hank Hoover carries the ball on this second-quarter touchdown run against William Monroe on Oct. 23 in Woodstock. The Falcons play at Strasburg tonight. Rich Cooley/Daily file

Friday’s game between Strasburg and Central may not be a playoff game, but it may feel like one.

The two Shenandoah County rivals enter with the same record (5-3) and are only two spots from each other in the Virginia High School League football power ratings with two regular season games left. Friday’s game is at Strasburg at 7:30 p.m.

“No matter what your records are, that game basically feels like a playoff game, because both crowds are hyped up,” Strasburg junior quarterback Adam Miller said. “There’s a lot of people there, and since both our records are the same it could (decide) our (playoff) seeding.”

Strasburg senior running back/linebacker Justin Carr said there doesn’t really need to be much at stake when the two schools meet.

“It’s huge,” Carr said of the rivalry. “You don’t even have to mention how big it is, everyone knows what it means. The hate, love, respect and passion there is between purple and blue runs deep.”

Central has a four-game win streak. The Falcons are coming off one of their best performances offensively, with a 44-12 win over William Monroe.

The Falcons are led by running back Hank Hoover, who has rushed for 1,234 yards, but last week it was the passing game that came to life.

Central senior quarterback Jordon Hosaflook threw for 216 yards and four touchdowns. Hosaflook has thrown for 954 yards and eight touchdowns for the season. He said the effective running game helps the passing game a lot.

“When they’re keying in on Hank, then it obviously opens up the (passing game),” Hosaflook said. “Then we’re going to get the little quick routes, we’re going to get the out routes, the post corners. With them doing that it just opens up a whole new variety of plays that we can run.”

While the Falcons have been strong at running the ball, the Rams have been very stingy against the run all season.

Carr said that they know they have a tough challenge ahead of them.

“We’re expecting a lot of runs. We know what type of player Hank is – he’s a workhorse – and we know what he does,” Carr said. “We’re looking forward to that match-up – their backfield against our backers – that will be a good one.”

While Central is coming off a strong offensive game, the Rams scored only 8 points against Madison County last week. Strasburg has relied mostly on the run this season, but its only touchdown last week came on a drive made up mostly of passes. Miller, in his first year at quarterback, threw for 130 yards in the victory. He has thrown for 490 yards on the season.

“I get more comfortable every week, just the more experience helps me,” Miller said. “I’m getting the timing down better. The game slows down a little bit more, and it’s just easier for me to read defenses.”

Strasburg’s running attack is led by Carr, who has rushed for 748 yards this year. Strasburg coach Mark Roller said that the biggest thing for the offense is just to get more consistent.

“It’s like a man with two faces, you don’t know which face is going to show up. That’s kind of what we’ve dealt with this year,” Roller said. “One week we’re running the ball, and the next week we can’t run it. You kind of got to take what the defense gives you. Last week at Madison that’s what they were giving us, so we were able to throw it a little bit. I would like to be more balanced, but certainly we’ll do what we have to do and try to get a win.”

Central’s defense has been pretty consistent throughout the season, and coach Mike Yew said a big part of that has been the players being able to make the adjustments needed during a game.

The games between the two teams have been very close for the last seven or eight years. Last year’s game was no different and came down to the wire with Strasburg pulling out a 30-29 win. Yew said he expects more of the same this year.

“I expect a slugfest, there’s no reason to believe anything different,” he said. “Throw the records out the window — it’s Central-Strasburg. … There won’t be anything left in the playbook by the time Friday night’s over. They’ll get into their playbook to show things that we probably haven’t seen all year. And maybe we’ll do the same thing.”

It will be senior night for the Rams, and Carr said that just adds to the excitement and motivation for the game.

“It just adds another layer to it,” Carr said. “There would be nothing better than to walk off the field with these guys on our last home game and beat (Central), and just walk off with a win.”

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com