Kevin Austin (right) of James River blocks against Glenvar in Friday’s Homecoming game.
Photos by Ed McCoy

The James River football team got off to a great start last Friday but ended up getting rocked, and thus Glenvar gets to keep the Virginia Media Rocking Chair for another year.

River dropped a 42-7 decision to the Highlanders at the Homecoming game in Springwood. River had an early 7-0 lead but the Highlanders wore them down with a big and aggressive line.

“They have some big boys who move good, and they’re nasty,” said River coach Jake Phillips. “They’re the best line we’ll face in the regular season, and they compare somewhat to Botetourt’s line.”

River hung tough for a half. The Knights struck first on a 52-yard pass from Coulter Hodges to Erik Tolley and River Clonch booted the extra point for an early 7-0 lead.

“We scored and got the ball back when they fumbled,” said Phillips. “Then we went three-and-out after the fumble, and that hurt. We struggled on third and short all game.”

Glenvar answered with the first of Jack Leonard’s five touchdown runs to tie the game. Leonard ran for two more scores in the second quarter but River was threatening late in the half. However, an apparent touchdown was nullified when Michael Taylor was ruled to be out of bounds. Glenvar then ended the threat with an interception and it was 21-7 at the half.

“If we go into the half 21-14, it’s a different ballgame,” said Phillips. “They called him (Taylor) out of bounds but he was NOT out of bounds. He made the catch and he came down with a foot inbounds. I saw it, and the tape confirmed it. That was a big play.”

Glenvar took over in the second half as Leonard scored two more touchdowns and a pass to Josh Clifford in the fourth quarter put it away.

“The score kind of got away from us in the second half and we lost a little intensity,” said Phillips. “We’ll learn from this. We did some good things.”

Glenvar outrushed River, 216-73, but the Knights held the edge in pass yardage, 113-83. Coulter Hodges passed for 113 yards but had four interceptions.

“Turnovers really hurt us,” said Phillips.

Hodges also led the team in rushing with 40 yards on 11 carries. Jesse Riley and Clonch had 12 yards each. Tolley led with 63 receiving yards on two receptions and Clonch had four catches for 33 yards.

Defensively, Daniel Holter had 17 tackles to lead the Knights. Luke Peay had 13 tackles and caused a fumble while Taylor had 11 total tackles. Hodges had eight and Clonch and Kevin Austin had seven each.

The loss dropped River to 2-3 on the season while Glenvar improved to 6-0.

“They have a complete football team,” said Phillips. “Their defense really gets after it.”

 

 

THIS WEEK’S GAME/GILES AT JAMES RIVER

 

This week the Knights take on a tough Three Rivers District opponent for the second week in a row when James River hosts Giles in Springwood. Friday’s game is Hall of Fame Night.

Giles comes in at 4-2 after a 28-14 win over Radford last Friday. The Knights have never beaten the Spartans, but they haven’t played them very often. That will now change with James River moving to the Three Rivers District.

You know what you get when you play Giles, a heavy dose of the single wing offense. The Spartans started running that when Steve Ragsdale took over as coach in the ’80s, and they’ve been so successful the field in Pearisburg is now named after Ragsdale.

“It’s the same old stuff, and they run it well,” said River coach Jake Phillips. “They don’t like to pass and they usually don’t, and they’re very aggressive. It’s not unusual for them to go for it on fourth down from any point on the field.”

The Spartans are led by Ryan Beidleman, who does it all. He ran for over 250 yards and scored three touchdowns against Radford.

“He runs the ball, he’s a two-time all-state safety and he returns punts and kicks,” said Phillips. “He’s even their punter.”

 

 

KEY TO THE GAME

 

“We have to stop number two,” said Phillips, referring to Giles’ Ryan Beidleman. “We need to control him on both sides of the ball.”

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