Powhatan (3-2) at Fluvanna County (5-1), 7 p.m.
The basics: Fluvanna County is rolling, while Powhatan gave Louisa County a legitimate scare a week ago, so this one should be pretty good. Fluvanna has won three straight Jefferson District games and while they’ve already made a lot of history this year, they’re looking to beat Powhatan for the first time since 1990 here. Lucky for the Flucos, they’ve only got to play this year’s edition of the Indians, and while they looked solid for a half against Louisa, the Lions managed a comeback and Powhatan lost at home to Western before that. Common opponent-wise, they both beat Charlottesville, with Powhatan beating CHS 23-6 while Fluvanna won 35-28 last week. Both teams want to establish the run, so whoever can impose their will gets a huge edge– look for Fluvanna to stay with the balance of Prophett Harris, Dametrez Christmas and Nate Smith with a dash of Kobe Edmonds thrown in.
Key matchup: Fluvanna’s defensive front seven takes on Powhatan’s Jacob Taylor. Taylor, Powhatan’s star running back, could potentially be a major issue for the Flucos. They’ll have to draw on their efforts against Jaylen Alexander and Sabias Folley in the last two wins and apply what they did well and learned against them. Look for key players in the front seven like Joey VanDyke to step up and lead Fluvanna.
Who to watch: Fluvanna’s Malachi Hill. Hill made a big play on a fake field goal against Charlottesville last week and he’s been solid defensively too. If Hill can step up again and play big-time football, it’ll be a big spark for he Flucos.
The line: Fluvanna by 1. This is the biggest test the new Flucos have faced, but they’ve been excellent at home, playing a physical, aggressive brand of football.
Albemarle (2-4) at Charlottesville (0-7), 7 p.m.
The basics: Albemarle got things going as expected after a tough four-game stint to start the season and held off Orange County last week despite a valiant effort by the Hornets and some serious mistakes and turnovers by the Patriots. But it’s a pretty good sign when a team can win a game without playing essentially flawless football, and Albemarle now carries some momentum into a matchup with a program that hasn’t been able to get on track yet this season. The Black Knights dropped another game last week to Fluvanna County, falling 35-27 despite a productive night on the ground with Sabias Folley going for 95 yards and two touchdowns and Tamarius Washington rushing for 84 yards including a 51-yard sprint. Albemarle will counter with DaQuandre Taylor and Mahki Washington, who have been strong on the ground. If the Patriots can also keep the passing game going in key spots, it could be a long night for the Black Knights who’ve struggled defensively at times.
Key matchup: Charlottesville’s ground attack takes on Albemarle’s front seven. With John Barber filling every conceivable gap and Jake Romback taking a step forward at defensive end, Albemarle’s front seven has found its footing, including limiting a prolific Orange ground attack a week ago in the win. Now they face a Black Knights rushing attack that has piled up some serious yards despite going 0-7. Soon the Patriots should have last year’s leading tackler Eric Taylor, who’s been out with an injury, back in the lineup. That would give an already solid Albemarle run defense an added jolt.
Who to watch: Charlottesville’s Isaiah Washington. Washington returned to the lineup recently and rushed for a touchdown last week. Losing him to injury before the season got going was like losing two starters at wingback and in the secondary and clearly contributed to the Black Knights’ struggles. Can he give them a needed spark?
The line: Albemarle by 14. The Patriots have too many weapons and are much better defensively than a 2-4 record indicates.
Western Albemarle (4-2) at Orange County (2-4), 7 p.m.
The basics: Western Albemarle bounced back from a loss to Louisa with a dismantling of Monticello last week while Orange dropped a close contest with Albemarle on the road. This one means a lot for both of them. The Hornets are already in a fight for their playoff lives while Western would get a huge boost from a win over a Class 5 opponent in the power points. Big opportunity for both teams to pick up a win here, and a battle of two of the area’s most productive backs so far this season as Austin Shifflett — five touchdowns and 164 yards on 21 touches a week ago and has 838 yards on the year — squares off against Jaylen Alexander, who has amassed 856 yards on the year already. The team that can get its ground attack going in a big way will likely control this matchup.
Key matchup: Western’s secondary takes on Orange’s passing attack. If the two teams’ rushing attacks cancel each other out, Western has proven it can take to the air more than the Hornets. That means Orange’s wideouts — and they’ve got options — will have to step up. Orange used four different players at quarterback last week including Alexander and wideout Chris Washington. But the passing game got some spark from quarterback Walker Johnson late with a touchdown pass to Chance Williams and Washington hauling in a long pass. Can Orange minimize mistakes and move the ball if they have to take to the air?
Who to watch: Western Albemarle’s Breaker Mendenhall. The Warriors’ wideout had a touchdown catch against Louisa and then hauled in two catches for 74 yards against Monticello. If Mendenhall can provide enough of a deep threat to keep the opposing secondary honest, it’ll open up even more space for that run game that’s already clicking along.
The line: Western Albemarle by 7. The Warriors’ ground game is clicking and it’s the difference here.
Brunswick (1-5) at STAB (3-2), 7 p.m.
The basics: STAB is officially on a roll, winning its third-straight while beating Greenbrier Christian 42-33. The Saints return to their home field for the first time since late August a vastly different team with a three-headed rushing attack that exploded last week. Thomas Harry had 185 yards, Amani Woods had 122 yards and Gabe Decker had 80 yards. That’s a lot of production and with just 11 carries each, a balanced level of wear and tear. If STAB can keep that rolling, they’re going to be awfully tough for the rest of their opponents. They’re currently in third place in the VISFL state standings.
Key matchup: STAB’s ground attack takes on Brunswick’s front seven. STAB rushed for 395 yards at a clip of 10.7 yards per carry last week against Greenbrier Christian Academy. Those are big-time numbers and it means Brunswick has its work cut out for it trying to hem in STAB’s array of rushers.
Who to watch: STAB’s Joe Ambrosi. The Saints’ versatile standout stepped up defensively at linebacker last week with 7.5 tackles, five of them solo stops. He was in on 10 total tackles, giving Greenbrier fits. If Ambrosi shows up like that every week, STAB’s defensive struggles in the first two weeks of the season will continue to become a distant memory.
The line: STAB by 14. The Saints keep things rolling here.
Louisa County (6-0) at Monticello (1-5), 7 p.m.
The basics: One year ago this was the game of the year in the Jefferson District but the mass graduation both these programs had last year has hurt the Mustangs more the Lions. Last week Louisa had to fight tooth and nail from a 14-0 deficit to comeback and win on the road with Powhatan. WIth 24 unanswered points, the Lions got the job done. Monticello is coming off 42-7 loss to Western Albemarle. While the Mustangs have dropped five straight, the real problem is they’ve fallen by 35 or more in their last two games. With Louisa having won every one of its games by double digits, Monticello has its hands full here.
Key matchup: The Monticello defensive front takes on Louisa’s offensive line. The Mustangs will need to have perfect play up front to try and slow down Jarrett Hunter and Calup Shelton on the ground. Getting a great push from Treshawn Minor and the defensive line followed by great reads from Danny Talbert and the linebacking corps. The problem Monticello has is that Robbie Guinn and this Lions offensive line has paved the way for 300+ yards each and every week so far.
Who to watch: Louisa County’s Brandon Smith. The Lions linebacker is exactly the kind of weapon you want at your disposal when you’re facing a quarterback like Monticello’s Malachi Fields. There’s no running away from Smith and how Monticello decides to handle that will be of great interest. So far Louisa has faced arguably the three most physical offenses (not including its own) so far. We know what Smith looks like against a team like Albemarle. What does he look like against teams that are young and rebuilding?
The line: Louisa by 21. The Lions handle business on the road again.
William Monroe (1-5) at Brentsville (3-4), 7 p.m.
The basics: The Dragons stepped out of Northwest District play for a week and fell on the road 29-0 to a solid Heritage (Leesburg) squad. The Tigers picked up their second straight win with a 14-6 victory on the road with Warren County. Brenstville has been all over the map, as they were outscored 119-6 in three straight blowout losses to Kettle Run, Eastern View and Central Woodstock. Obviously those are all solid teams, so you can’t get too wrapped up in that, but in the last two weeks the Tigers have outscored George Mason and Warren 26-6. So that’s a pretty dramatic shift. Which of these teams will Monroe face?
Key matchup: The Monroe offensive line takes on Brentsville defensive lineman Connor Sides. The senior captain knows how to wreck a backfield. He did so in a 14-7 win against Faquier. The Dragons need to give quarterback Alex Kinsey time to make the reads downfield or give him the holes to make something happen with his feet. Garrett Shifflett, Bobby Bierlair, Sam Hess and Tremaine Hawkins are the guys that can make that a possibility. It’ll be their task to keep Sides from getting to Kinsey and dirtying up the senior QB’s jersey.
Who to watch: Monroe running back Zach Miller. This has the makings of a defensive game based on previous results as all of Brentsville’s wins have been low scoring. Having a chain mover like Miller is huge for them. While Kinsey’s big play ability drives Monroe, in a game like this, long drives make the difference. A night of steady production from Miller who is a power runner would be a huge get for the Dragons.
The line: The Dragons by 1. This was a 7-6 game last year. It should be close again this year and the Dragons could well be experienced enough to pull this one out, but expect another battle.
Bluestone (2-5) at Goochland (6-0), 7 p.m.
The basics: Since winning back-to-back against Randolph Henry and Price Edward, the Barons have dropped through straight in the James River District, falling last week 14-0 to Nottoway. The Bulldogs throttled Cumberland on the road last week 52-0 in game that saw the backfield get a very light night of work. This was a 58-18 win last year for Goochland, and while it eagerly awaits its season finale with Amelia, this team still has to show up and play while it runs through the lighter part of its schedule.
Key matchup: The Bluestone linebacker Neil Clayton against Goochland’s Wing T. The Barons have a pretty solid defender in Clayton as he packs some heft at 235 pounds. The Bulldogs have been so balanced on offense in terms of distributing touches. Last week it was Perry Snead-Johnson who got to shine with 101 yards and two rushing touchdowns on just six carries. But the Barons have to be mindful of Devin McCray, Connor Popielarz and Quincey Snead. To slow any of these runners down it’ll be up to Clayton to get a solid read out of McCray’s hands and find a way to fly to the ball. Easier said than done.
Who to watch: Goochland’s secondary. Bluestone took to the air last week against Nottoway. The Barons picked up 157 of their 213 yards of offense in the passing attack. The Bulldogs have been great in coverage so far to the point where they’ve generated points out of it. With McCray, Snead-Johnson and a young tandem in CJ Towles and De’Andre Robinson who are getting an awful lot of experience, this unit might be tested by the Barons and don’t be surprised if that goes swimmingly for a Goochland defense that’s given up just 35 points in six games. That’s a 5.83 per game for those keeping track.
The line: The Bulldogs by 14. Bluestone is a step above Cumberland competition wise, but not anything that Goochland can’t handle.
Central Woodstock (5-0) at Madison County (2-4), 7:30 p.m.
The basics: The Falcons gave up their first points of the year in a 35-20 win over Clarke. They had outscored their previous four opponents 147-0. The Mountaineers are coming off of a second straight win with a 21-20 on the road at Nelson County. With much of the season in the rear view, it is now safe to say that Madison County’s schedule this year is absolutely insanely hard for a Class 2A team. East Rockingham is 6-0. Fluvanna County is 5-1. Luray is 5-1. After this unbeaten opponent at home road trips to an underrated 3-3 Clarke team and a 5-1 and Strasburg team rest ahead for Madison. Three of the five aforementioned teams are Class 3A teams, so the Mountaineers aren’t just playing good teams, they’re playing good teams a classification above their own. And of all the teams they’ve faced so far, Central appears to be the best all around squad. That’s a tough break for a Madison team that had some close calls in losses and found a groove against Nelson County and Rappahannock.
Key matchup: Central Woodstock’s defensive front seven takes on Madison County quarterback Elijah Lewis. On the ground or in the air, the Mountaineers offense runs through Lewis most of the time. While some solid runs from Matt Lewis would be a huge help, the Mountaineers need a monster game from the their senior quarterback in all phases. The Falcons have a pair of animals at linebacker in senior Zach Abrams and junior Jerimiah Diaz. With Declan Franklin and Neddy Portillo who both are 6-footers that weight just over 250 pounds, this defensive line is a problem too. Lewis is going to be under duress and need to make his running reads quickly and get the ball of his hands quickly in the passing game.
Who to watch: Central’s Kyle Clanton. He’s 5-foot-9 ball of speed. He won Class 2A state titles in all three sprinting events last spring. He plays wide receiver and he’s the return man on special teams. The window doesn’t have to be but a crack open for Clanton to get 6-point fast, and real fast.
The line: The Falcons by 20. Their resume speaks for itself. Central is a buzzsaw right now.
Fork Union (0-6) at Trinity Episcopal (2-4), Saturday 1 p.m.
The basics: The Blue Devils are coming off a wild game at St. Christopher’s that was relatively close until the Saints blew up in the fourth quarter for a 62-27 win. The Titans are coming off a 21-14 loss at home to Norfolk Academy. Both these teams have the same record against like opponents. For the first time this year, the Blue Devils scored more than three touchdowns so while the offense is progressively getting better, the same issues against the run on defense continue to plague them. This is a winnable game here, but the Titans won’t be pushovers.
Key matchup: The Fork Union pass rush against Trinity quarterback Taylor Eggers. The 6-foot-5 signal caller can sling it. The Blue Devils will need a presence in the backfield from Myles Brickhouse and Caleb Moss. With an experienced secondary, FUMA might be able to keep Eggers favorite target, Jalen Smith, from getting open early. The good news here for the Blue Devils is that this isn’t a run-first team. The bad news is that if they can’t stop the run early and have to devote too many assets to it, Eggers is going to be a real problem and exploit that quickly.
Who to watch: The Blue Devils’ Larry Elder. Fork Union quarterback Kenyon Carter and Elder had a solid day against St. Christopher’s last week. Elijah Hawks has been the big threat for this passing attack but last week Elder stole the show with a 7-catch 135-yard performance that included a touchdown. With Elder, Hawks and Will Stupalskiy, the Blue Devils have great depth at receiver. If Elder puts in another great game, Carter has all the weapons he needs to put big numbers up again. He had 377 yards passing last week. He might be able to come up with similar results this week if Elder, Hawks and Stupalsky are all in sync.
The line: Fork Union by 1. The Blue Devils are a bit of a wounded animal right, not injury wise so much as they’re due to get gnarly and mad about getting that first win. That might work to their advantage this week.
Covenant (5-0) at Virginia Episcopal (4-0), Saturday 2 p.m.
The basics: Covenant didn’t get a chance to play a week again when Kenston Forest forfeited, and the Eagles’ first season in 8-man football has turned into a bit of a disjointed lineup, leaving them on the shelf for two week stretches twice already and potentially a third time before they start postseason play. The Bishops, under former Fork Union postgraduate standout and New England Patriot long snapper Danny Aiken, haven’t been nipped this year, but a game with STAB was canceled due to Hurricane Florence and they barely slipped past a Greenbrier Christian team (30-28) that Covenant rolled past 58-0 in early September.
Key matchup: Covenant’s front seven takes on Virginia Episcopal’s Will Twadell. Twadell is averaging nearly 100 yards per game at 8.9 yards per carry. That’s some explosive work on the ground. The Eagles, on the flip side, have been stingy against the run. Can they shake off whatever rust and find that form again on the road?
Who to watch: Covenant’s Luke Sorenson. The Eagles’ quarterback is a threat on the ground and when attacking through the air. He’s give Covenant a charge on offense, look for him to keep it rolling.
The line: Covenant by 17. The Eagles have too many weapons for the Bishops.
Cumberland (0-6) at Buckingham (2-4), Monday 7 p.m.
The basics: The Dukes took in on the chin last week hosting Goochland in a 52-0 loss. The Knights are coming off a well-timed bye week. Buckingham put together a solid first half against Goochland two weeks ago before getting ground down and falling 21-8. This is the first of four winnable games that Buckingham needs in its back pocket. The Knights have not lost to the Dukes since 2007, and are 14-3 alltime against them. And while on paper, taking an L here that seems highly unlikely to happen this year, you still have to go out and play the games.
Key matchup: The Dukes defensive line takes on Buckingham’s Knight-set formation. If Cumberland couldn’t slow down Goochland than they can expect a heavy dose of the Knight-set that packs things in tight and runs off misdirection. Buckingham’s line may be young in spots, but its develop since the start of the season has been noteworthy. Cumberland has to find a way to keep this unit led by Cole Edmonston from getting to the second level of the defense because if any of Buckingham’s runners get open space they are truly dangerous, and truth be told, Walter Edwards is dangerous just keeping his legs moving in a pile.
Who to watch: Buckingham’s Deshawn Bartee. The senior is so explosive in the kicking game. If he doesn’t break a punt or kickoff for a touchdown each week he usually at least sets his team up with one really, really short field to work with. That paired with his ability to break a run or two off as rusher on the edge makes him a problem for Cumberland. As the Goochland coaching staff screamed from the sideline every time on special teams — you do not kick to number four. Don’t be surprised if Bartee snaps off a couple of big plays in this one.
The line: The Knights by 17. Buckingham is coming in relatively healthy and has the horses in this one to put up a big score against a nearby rival.