The James River football team got off to a slow start and things never got better last Friday night in Floyd County. River dropped a 45-0 game to the host Buffaloes and was officially eliminated from a chance at making the VHSL playoffs.
River dropped to 10th place in the regional rankings, with the top eight making the playoffs. Dan River holds the number eight spot at 5-4 while River is 3-6, and even a win over Carroll County on Friday night wouldn’t be enough to lift the Knights into the top eight. Carroll County is 1-8 on the season and carries very few “rider” points.
River played without four regulars at Floyd, and that didn’t help. Leading tackler Daniel Holter missed the game for an FFA trip and River was also missing leading receiver and placekicker River Clonch and starting lineman Logan Williamson for medical reasons and tight end Darious Cheatwood also sat out.
Had those four boys played, it still would have been a very difficult game for the Knights. Floyd came into the game at 6-2 and ranked fourth in the region.
“They got after us pretty good,” said River coach Jake Phillips. “We got any momentum sucked out of us before the end of the first quarter.”
Floyd lit up the scoreboard for 24 first quarter points on three TD runs and a field goal. It was still 24-0 at the half but River never recovered and was shut out for the first time since Botetourt beat the Knights in the opening game of the 2016 season.
“We struggled on third down,” said Phillips. “We couldn’t convert, and we couldn’t stop them. Our lack of physicality showed up and we didn’t have a lot of intensity, either.”
Floyd torched River for 386 rushing yards compared to just 10 rushing yards for River. With the running game all but non-existent, Coulter Hodges went to the air and completed 16 of 18 passes for 99 yards, including five to Erik Tolley for 57 yards and four each to Michael Hays and Michael Taylor.
On defense Luke Peay had three solo tackles and 10 assists for 13 total tackles. Hodges and Hunter Wilson had nine tackles each and Levi Walker had eight.
River didn’t commit a single turnover for the first time this season, but that was one of the few bright spots on a long night in Springwood.
THIS WEEK’S GAME
The Knights will wrap up their season with a long trip to Hillsville Friday and their first game in recent memory against the Cavaliers of Carroll County.
Carroll is a new member of the Three Rivers District after spending the last half dozen or so years getting hammered in the River Ridge. Carroll was 1-9 last year and they seem to be on the way to a similar season this year, coming in at 1-8.
The Carroll football program is an enigma. It’s a Group 4A school, about the same size as Salem, Blacksburg and William Byrd, but the Cavaliers just can’t seem to get it together in football. They’re pretty good some other sports, i.e. basketball and softball, but year after year the area where Frank Beamer grew up can’t seem to put together a winning football program.
“They run a lot of different offenses with a lot of different sets,” said River coach Jake Phillips. “They’re hard to prepare for because you don’t know what offense will show up.”
River could use a win to end a disappointing season and the Cavaliers look like just what the doctor ordered.
“It’s always good to end on a high note,” said Phillips. “It’s been a tough year.”
KEY TO THE GAME
“We have to block better and tackle better,” said Phillips.