A pair of local vs. local matchups highlight the high school football schedule this week, and one in particular should draw plenty of interest in Shenandoah County.
Central (7-1, 4-0 Bull Run) will host rival Strasburg (6-2, 3-1) at 7:30 p.m. Friday in a game that will have district and playoff implications for both teams. Central (21.7 points) and Strasburg (18.7 points) were ranked third and eighth, respectively, in last week’s Virginia High School League Group 2A East Region playoff ratings, and the Rams are certain to climb this week after beating seventh-ranked Madison County, 34-32, at home Friday night.
Central, coming off a 34-13 win on the road at William Monroe for its fifth straight win, rumbled through the Rams, 27-6, last season.
In Friday’s win over Madison County, Strasburg rediscovered its running game by piling up 307 yards on the ground and make several key stops defensively.
“First, we’re gonna enjoy this one,” Rams head coach Mark Roller said after the win. “But we have to do some things a little bit better. We played better in the first half this week that we did last week, so I’m pleased with that. We’ve just gotta keep focusing and not making little mental mistakes, jumping offsides and things like that and we’ll see what happens next week.”
Five other games are also on tap for the local football slate this week:
Skyline (2-6, 1-2 Northwestern) at Sherando (4-4, 2-0 Northwestern), 7 p.m. Friday: Skyline snapped a five-game losing streak with a 33-27 comeback win over Handley at home last Friday night but the Hawks should expect to get a decidedly stiffer test against a Sherando team coming off a 49-21 loss at Fort Hill (Maryland). The Warriors were tied for 14th in last week’s Group 4A West Region playoff ratings and need to win their final two games if they hope to have any shot of reaching the postseason.
Clarke County (6-2, 3-1 Bull Run) at Warren County (2-6, 1-4 Bull Run), 7 p.m. Friday: Like its cross-town rival, Warren County ended its five-game losing streak with a 23-13 win on the road at George Mason last week. The Wildcats will now have to find a way to slow down Clarke County’s single-wing offense, which has is averaging 51.3 points over the Eagles’ last four games since an overtime loss to Central.
Riverheads (8-0, 5-0 Shenandoah) at Stonewall Jackson (0-8, 0-5 Shenandoah), 7 p.m. Friday: The struggles continued for Stonewall Jackson in a 38-0 loss at Buffalo Gap last week and it doesn’t get any easier Friday night. Last year’s Group 1A state runner-up, Riverheads is averaging 46.9 points while holding opponents to just 11.1 points, while the Generals are averaging just 6.3 points per game.
Brunswick Academy (2-6) at Massanutten Military Academy (0-9), 4 p.m. Friday: MMA will have one final chance to avoid another winless season when the Colonels host a Brunswick squad that has lost five straight in both teams’ season finale. MMA fell to Hancock (Maryland) 41-0 last week and has been shut out five times this season.
Blue Ridge (5-2) at Randolph-Macon Academy (5-2), 1 p.m. Saturday: R-MA picked up a 31-20 win over Christchurch School last week, the Yellow Jackets’ fifth win in their last six games. Blue Ridge has won four straight, including back-to-back shutout victories over St. Anne’s-Belfield (34-0) and Virginia Episcopal School (56-0).
The postseason races begin this week, as all six public high schools will compete in their respective conference championship meets on Wednesday.
Skyline and Warren County will kick off the day’s loaded racing schedule at the Conference 28 meet, which begins at 2:45 p.m. at Oatlands Plantation, the same sight as next week’s Region 3A East championships.
Warren County’s girls placed second in the conference meet last season and advanced all the way to the Group 3A state meet as a team in 2015. Wildcats head coach Joseph Owens said last week that he has worked on setting up the team’s workouts this season to encourage peak times for his runners to coincide with the state tournament.
“We kind of sat back last year and looked at the season and we were like OK, we kind of all hit that point at regionals and then … after that it was kind of tough. So we really worked hard to kind of tighten the reins a little bit, hold them back a little bit earlier so that we can work on beasting up the workouts towards the end to a point where we are pretty confident that we’re gonna last a little bit longer this year,” he said.
Sherando will compete in the Conference 21 West championships at 3:30 p.m. at Kernstown Battlefield. The Warriors’ boys won the conference title last season.
Central and Strasburg will both compete in the Conference 35 meet at Madison County at 4 p.m. Wednesday, with the Falcons’ boys squad looking to defend their conference championship last season in which Sawyer Lucy-Speidel was the individual title winner.
Stonewall Jackson will also compete at 4 p.m. in the Conference 44 championships on the Generals’ home New Market Battlefield course. The Generals’ girls claimed their first district/conference title in at least 10 seasons last year at the conference meet and returned a handful of key contributors from that group this fall, including individual champ Brandy Webb.
This week marks the end of the regular season for local high school volleyball teams, and Central, Sherando, Skyline, Stonewall Jackson, Strasburg and Warren County are each scheduled to play two matches over the next five days before conference tournaments begin next week.
Shenandoah University beat Guilford 33-28 at home on Saturday for its third straight win, and the Hornets (5-2, 3-1 ODAC) will look to continue rolling on the road at Catholic (3-4, 0-4 ODAC) this weekend.
James Madison University (6-1, 4-0 CAA), coming off a bye week, will celebrate homecoming this weekend with a matchup against Rhode Island (1-7, 0-5 CAA).
Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or email@example.com