The James River football team is back on the gridiron this Friday after a week off. The Knights return from the bye to host Glenvar for Homecoming.
The Virginia Media Newspapers Rocking Chair will be on the line for this game. The ladderback rocker is symbolic of the rivalry between River and Glenvar. The two were former Pioneer District rivals, but when Glenvar left the district to join the Three Rivers, Larry Journell, who was principal at River, came up with the idea of the rocking chair. Virginia Media, publisher of The Fincastle Herald and Salem Times-Register, paid for the rocker, the shop class at James River painted it, and the winner gets to keep it for a year until the game is played the following season.
This is Jake Phillips’ third year as coach at James River and he’s yet to take a seat in the chair. The last time the Knights won the rivalry game was in 2013 when they won it for the second year in a row.
Phillips used the week off to try and get his team healthy for Friday’s Three Rivers District game. Everyone’s a little banged up at this point of the season.
“It was a good time to try and get healthy and get a little better,” he said.
This week is also Homecoming.
“It can be a big headache if you let it,” said Phillips. “Hopefully, it will serve to motivate our guys to play some good football.”
THIS WEEK’S GAME
The James River Knights will meet their first Three Rivers District opponent of the season this Friday after going 2-2 against non-district foes in the first four weeks. The Knights were off with a bye last week.
This is Homecoming in Springwood and normally a coach wouldn’t pick a team as good as Glenvar for that game. However, circumstances dictated this was the week.
“We have Giles the following week, and I’d rather play a team where we have two weeks to prepare,” said River coach Jake Phillips.
The Highlanders come in at 5-0 and they’ve outscored five opponents, 179-68 thus far. They have a win against a 3A team, beating Cave Spring 37-13, and last week they beat a Group 4A team when they hammered Carroll County, 49-14.
The Highlanders’ strength is their line, as Glenvar has a big and experienced front on both sides of the ball. Tailback Jack Leonard is their bell cow, and he finds lots of holes to run through.
“They have a huge line,” said Phillips. “We have one of the biggest lines we’ve had, but they’re still bigger than we are.”
Glenvar got quarterback Landry Gerbers back last week after he missed three games with a shoulder injury. He was sharp, and his favorite receiver is senior Josh Clifford, the son of Glenvar coach Kevin Clifford. Coach Clifford is 6-4 in his 10 years playing against James River.
“They’re a very physical team and they have a bunch of weapons,” said Phillips. “They’re a complete team.”
KEY TO THE GAME
“We have to be efficient offensively and make some big plays,” said Phillips. “And on defense we have to get them out of their rhythm.”