James River had a bye week in football last Friday, giving coach Tim Jennings an opportunity to see this week’s opponent, Parry McCluer, in person. However, about all he learned was that Riverheads is still very good.
The River coaches were on hand to watch the six-time defending Class 1 state champion Gladiators take a 55-14 win over the Fightin’ Blues. If Tim was there to see what the Blues had he didn’t get to see much.
“They (Parry McCluer) opened with Rockbridge, who runs the wishbone, and then played Riverheads, who runs the double wing,” said Jennings. “That makes it hard to see how they’ll line up against us. In that case you just watch players more than how they line up.
“One thing I saw was that Parry McCluer was able to move the ball on them. Lord Botetourt plays them (Riverheads) this week and I think LB can beat them.”
The Parry McCluer game is always special for Jennings as he played for the Blues during his high school days. This will be the fourth time Tim has played his old high school as head coach at River and he has a 2-1 record against the Blues.
Last year, River won the game in Springwood, 23-8, and ironically while Jennings was coaching against his old school Parry McCluer’s coach, Jack Baker, was coaching against his old school as well. River alum Baker was the Blues’ coach for just one season before moving to Nelson County this year.
Is it special for Jennings to play Parry McCluer? He still has a lot of family and friends in the Buena Vista area.
“This is the first time we’re going up there since I’ve been coach,” he said. “The last three times we’ve played them have been here, so it’s not the same. It will be fun, but we’ll try to make it about ‘us’ and not about ‘me.’”
This will be a rare Thursday evening game for the Knights. Due to a shortage of officials in the area some games are being moved to Thursday or Saturday each week, and this week the River-Parry McCluer game was moved up a day. That could be an advantage for the Knights since they were off last week and the Blues had a tough game.
“It couldn’t hurt,” said Jennings.