Football returns for the teams at Lord Botetourt and James River High Schools this Friday. At least, that was the plan at press time.
“As of now it is,” said River coach Tim Jennings on Monday with a nervous laugh. Both the Knights and LB have been idle the past two Fridays due to COVID concerns of one type or another. They last played on September 17 and are chomping at the bit to get back on the gridiron.
Botetourt will return to action with a game in Vinton at William Byrd High’s Patterson Stadium Friday. The Terriers are off to a tough start at 0-4. They’ve been outscored 150-61 in games with Liberty, Hidden Valley, Bassett and Cave Spring, and they also had two weeks with no games on September 10 and 17.
“They’re the same as they’ve been, everything goes through the quarterback,” said LB coach Jamie Harless of the Terriers. “They’ve become even more quarterback dominated this year. They’ve gone back to what coach (Jeff) Highfill used to do, running the quarterback.”
The Cavaliers are 1-3 and have not played since a 35-14 loss to Appomattox three weeks ago Friday. Lord Botetourt has battled contact tracing due to COVID, but as of Monday only one player is expected to miss Friday’s game.
“It’s an unfortunate thing,” said Harless. “Other than that, practice has gone well.”
This will be Byrd’s Homecoming and Harless indicated he’ll make his players aware of that prior to the game. Teams usually schedule a team they expect to beat for Homecoming, but Byrd has not beaten LB in the past three meetings, including a 55-13 Cavalier beat down in the abbreviated spring season.
Official Virginia High School League rankings will be released next Monday. With a 1-3 record Botetourt is not in the top four, but there’s still plenty of season remaining.
“A lot of people don’t want us as a first-round opponent,” said Harless.
James River has also not played since September 17, when the Knights took a 34-32 win over Covington. They had games with Stuarts Draft and Glenvar cancelled or postponed in the past two weeks and they’ll be at Alleghany this Friday.
The Mountaineers have opened the season at 1-3. They beat Roanoke Catholic in their season opener, 43-6, but have since lost to Covington, 20-19, Cave Spring, 48-8, and Radford last Friday, 42-6. River coach Tim Jennings is quite familiar with Alleghany’s personnel.
“We played them in seven-on-seven all summer so we know what they have,” he said. “They’re bigger than us, just like everyone else.”
Jennings expects to have a couple players out as well due to contact tracing, but River should have enough to play this week in what will be an important district game. The Knights come in at 2-1 and this will be their first of five Three Rivers District games.
“Alleghany can be a tough place to play,” said Jennings. “We can’t just show up and expect to win.”
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