Fluvanna County (0-0) at Charlottesville (0-1), 1 p.m. Saturday
The Basics: Fluvanna County finally gets to take the field after the long pause and see if the Flucos can continue the upward trajectory they’ve been on under Mike Morris. Fluvanna returns Kobe Edmonds at quarterback and the dual threat will likely get a chance to play to his strengths even more this year with so many weapons surrounding him. Fluvanna has a strong group of athletes at the skill spots and if the offensive line can gel together quickly, the offense should get humming for the Flucos. The Black Knights stumbled out of the gate earlier this week in a 49-0 loss, but playing Louisa County as an opener after a 15-month offseason would’ve been a tall task for any team on the Lions’ schedule. The Black Knights showed some serious flashes of potential, like creating some turnovers on defense and Eddison Duolo’s running on offense, and if Charlottesville can keep moving forward they’ve got a chance to improve drastically as the season wears on.
Key Matchup: Charlottesville’s secondary takes on the Fluvanna passing game. In the recent past, Fluvanna has made it a point to move the ball on the ground and with Edmonds in the mix, they’ll be able to do that. But the Black Knights’ defensive backs, like Polo Hill on the edge, can’t get caught trying to peek in the backfield on the run too often, because the Flucos have the speed in guys like Jaden Ferguson and Edmonds has the arm to go over the top too. Staying disciplined will be key for the Charlottesville secondary.
Who to watch: Fluvanna’s Xavier Copeland. Copeland is the ultimate X-factor and how the Flucos employ him is going to be interesting. He was more wideout/defensive back/returner in Buckingham in 2019, but he’s older, wiser and playing in a different system with coaches who have some different ideas. Could we see him in even more roles, in more spots in the formation? He definitely has the speed, size and power to change a game.
The line: Fluvanna by 10. The Flucos have the seasoned signal-caller in Edmonds and at least some early returns indicate that’s absolutely critical this season.
Albemarle (0-0) at Monticello (1-0), 2 p.m. Saturday
The Basics: There’s no build up to rivalry clashes this spring, everyone is just jumping right into the deep end and Monticello will take a second dip this week after beating Western Monday in dramatic fashion with an overtime touchdown followed by a forced fumble. The game features a pair of coaches who’ve worked together in the past with Matt Hicks serving as Albemarle coach Brandon Isaiah’s assistant before heading to Nelson and both worked on Rodney Redd’s staff before that. So there should be some familiarity in their first meeting for both coaching staffs. The Mustangs are clearly building around UVa signee Malachi Fields at quarterback and as a defender. He played critical roles on both sides of the ball against Western. Albemarle enters year two with Jake King at quarterback and the Patriots are hopeful that last year’s trial by fire is going to pay off this year and King made some serious improvements as the year went on last season. The Patriots’ youth movement last year gets a stout test this year to see if all that experience is going to pay off in a leap forward. Look for some new faces to make some serious noise for the Patriots.
Key Matchup: Monticello’s front seven takes on Albemarle’s Eb McCarthy. McCarthy showed promise as a sophomore at taiback and can hit the crease and take off. The Mustangs’ front seven struggled early to stuff Western’s Austin Shifflett and if he hadn’t gotten banged up those struggles may have continued. Linebackers like Logan Clark, Phillip Estes and Shawn Jones are going to have to be up to the challenge for the Mustangs if they’re going to stuff the Patriots’ potentially explosive ground attack.
Who to watch: Albemarle’s Nolan Pitsenberger. The Patriots know for sure they’ve got an impact player in the secondary in Pitsenberger, a hard-hitting defender who seems to always be in the right place at the right time. He’ll lineup alongside Kyshon Howard in the secondary, and that gives the Patriots two players that they can move around and wreak some havoc or disguise coverages against Fields, who’s clearly leveled up in the offseason based on the way he led the Mustangs back against Western.
The line: Monticello by 1. Fields gave the Mustangs the edge Monday and he gives them the nod here again, but this one is likely to come down to the wire.
Louisa (1-0) versus Orange (0-0), 6 p.m. Saturday at Charlottesville
The Basics: The annual Battle for the Gordonsville Tastee-Freeze makes its first-ever appearance at a neutral site as field conditions forced the move to Charlottesville. That’s where the Hornets and Lions will renew one of the area’s most fierce rivalries, a game that has seen some of the most punishing, physical play around. Both teams boast some speed with the Lions turning the ground game over to Kalep Shelton while Orange has burner Doug Newsome out on the edge. Louisa got warmed up for this one with a Tuesday night blowout win against Charlottesville with the defense looking like it was in midseason form despite a ton of new faces in key spots. There’s speed all over that unit and they absolutely fly to the ball. Playing on turf at CHS almost seemed to bolster that advantage — the Lions defensively just looked crazy fast and swarmed seemingly every play. Now they’ll face a Hornets squad in search of identity and looking to get things headed in the right direction out of the gate.
Key Matchup: Orange’s revamped offense faces the Louisa front seven. The Hornets are moving into the post Jaylen Alexander era and new quarterback Paul Porier is going to be a critical part of that transition. Facing the Lions’ front seven that created all kinds of havoc for Charlottesville earlier this week is a less-than-ideal first start and once A.J. Proffitt, Eli Brooks, Qwenton Spellman and company start pinning their ears back and attacking, it could get frustrating for quarterbacks with a lot more experience. Look for Orange to get Porier some quick first looks and find a rhythm while also keeping the Louisa pass rush off balance. Allowing them to simple attack doesn’t seem like a viable option.
Who to watch: Louisa County’s Landon Wilson. Everyone knew based on last year’s freshman campaign that Wilson is going to be something special for the Lions at quarterback but his poise and command of the offense against Charlottesville indicates that Wilson is way ahead of schedule. He also showed he can bring the physical running that Louisa demands of the quarterback spot when he took off on a zone read where he kept it and battered his way into the endzone. Combine that with the way he went through his progression on a touchdown pass to Chase Miller and even with just three completions against the Black Knights, it’s apparent that Wilson is going to be a force this year.
The line: Louisa by 21. The Lions are just completely locked in based on their blowout win over Charlottesville earlier this week.
William Campbell (0-0) at Nelson County (0-0), 6:30 p.m. Monday
The Basics: Nelson County gets the Darrin McKenzie era started in earnest this week after the game was postponed to Monday from Friday. The Governors’ new head coach takes over a program clearly on the upswing and while starting with a challenging Dogwood District foe — most Dogwood District foes are — will guarantee that the Governors have to fight to get McKenzie in the win column in his first game as head coach. William Campbell rolled 60-26 over Nelson in the regular season last year and made the playoffs, so Nelson has its work cut out for it.
Key Matchup: William Campbell’s linebackers take on Nelson quarterback George Brown. It’s not a one-man show by any means for the Governors on offense, but even with Aveon Tabb in the mix, the Governors are likely to go as Brown drives them. He creates unique pressure on linebackers who have to figure out whether he’s trying to beat them with his legs or his left arm on any given plays and Brown has become adept at making opposing teams respect both.
Who to watch: Nelson’s offensive line. The Governors have four key building blocks on the offensive line back in the fold this year in Koby Mays, Bryson Ramsey, Kavin Carter and Kevin Dillard and that should be a huge lift for the Governors. If they can keep Brown’s jersey clean it’ll really help get the Nelson offense moving.
The line: Nelson by 1. The Governors have George Brown back at quarterback and returning starters at that spot have made a big difference so far with the constraints of playing in a pandemic.