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Prep Football: Martinsville, Magna Vista clash in Week 7 rivalry game
Bassett travels to Halifax County
Friday, October 11, 2013
By CHRIS PRIDE - Bulletin Sports Editor
There’s nothing quite like an intense rivalry atmosphere in a high school football game.
Tonight’s Piedmont District game at Dan Greene Memorial Stadium features that with two teams on the up-and-up that have several players who are related to each other.
Magna Vista visits Martinsville coming off a bye last week, as winners of its last three since a 25-14 home loss to Dan River on Sept. 6, in Week 2. Since then, the Warriors have averaged 39 points per game in their three-game winning streak — their last a 46-26 win over Tunstall.
Martinsville also enters with a string of wins, after holding off Halifax County late for a 27-20 win last week to move to 2-0 in the district. The Bulldogs could very well be on a three-game winning streak as well if it weren’t for a tough fourth quarter comeback by the Wildcats.
Magna Vista (4-1) is also an undefeated 2-0 in district play.
But while both teams enter with confidence, both coaches know that in a rivalry game anything is possible, and more importantly to have emotions in check.
“I can hardly keep (my kids) still, they’re amped up and excited,” Martinsville head coach Orion Martin said. “Everything this week I’ve been preaching in their ear about staying focused and harping on no trash talking or pushing after the play. I told them to go out, play hard, and let their pads and helmets do the talking. These close rivalry games can get into all that and I don’t want it to.”
Warriors head coach Joe Favero also knows the nature of the game. With family relations involved there’s lots of excitement that surrounds the matchup, he said. Favero understands the challenge in front of his team as it tries to maintain a good status in the 3A West Conference 31 standings. However, he isn’t looking any further down the road than the game his team faces tonight.
“I think our focus has improved. It was a lot of little things that added up in that loss to Dan River and I think the kids have understood and bought into the attention to detail,” Favero said. “They know little mistakes can cost them a game. We focus one game at a time still and even if there isn’t a Piedmont District championship, we’re still focused on Piedmont District games right now.”
Martin has his team energized for the meeting saying he told his kids of previous experiences in high school and at Virginia Tech about being an underdog. The Hokies’ upset of Florida State his junior year was an example he gave his team about never forgetting the big moments they accomplish.
With that said, he also acknowledged that maintaining a strong focus for a full 48 minutes is vital in having the Bulldogs pull off a big win tonight at home.
“When you watch (Magna Vista) you can’t help but stay focused because they are by far the best coached and most athletic team that we’ve played so far. They have speed all over the field on both sides of the ball,” Martin said. “When our kids saw on Monday just how athletic they are I think they realized they need to play a near perfect game to win (tonight).
“We come out a little too jacked up and have started to understand that just because we play well in the first half it won’t automatically be that way in the second half. We have done our best as coaches to make them aware that it’s a four-quarter fight.”
Favero has preached all week that his defense will be tested and can’t give up the big plays. Although the Magna Vista defense is sound in all three tiers, Favero noticed on film just how spread the Bulldogs can make teams.
“We preached all week about trying not to give up big plays. They’ve been able to break open a few and they can really stretch you with their speed,” Favero said. “They’ll get some yardage, but we need to negate the big plays.”
Bassett hoping to right ship at Halifax County
Bassett head football coach Jay Gilbert is aware that turnovers have been a constant struggle for his young team.
However, with a group that is now more than a half a season in and has battled the injury bug, Gilbert said it’s time for his team to respond. The last four games have been against top caliber teams, which has led to a four-game losing streak since a season-opening win over North Stokes, N.C.
Turnovers, Gilbert said, have been the key ingredient to the troubles.
“I think it’s not fully putting the ball away all the time or securing it properly,” Gilbert said of the turnover woes. “We run an option offense and when you’re young and trying to learn it with different people it plays into a couple of those turnovers. We’re young, but these guys are now more than half a season in and so in that sense we’re not so young anymore. It’s time for our guys to step up and start making plays.”
Season-starting quarterback Devontae Jordan is about 70 percent and should share snaps with Loje Witcher. Gilbert said Witcher has potential, but needs to control some of the excitement he has at the position. He was impressed with what he saw from his junior, but also said that he needs to limit the turnovers in the option game.
Bassett has a minus-6 turnover ratio this season.
“Hopefully we can come out of this little down turn we’ve been in lately. But a lot of that is due to the opponents we’ve been playing too, as much as anything,” Gilbert said. “We just have to stop turning the ball over. When you got Franklin County, Christiansburg, Hidden Valley and G.W. in a row, that’s four top of the top teams on our schedule. I’m not making excuses but we need to step up and make some plays.
PCHS ready for Homecoming meeting with G.W.-Danville
Regardless of what Patrick County’s record is, G.W.-Danville head coach Nick Anderson is not about to take the Cougars lightly.
“We’ve told our kids from week one that we don’t want to overlook anybody,” Anderson said. “We’re not going to look down the road at all. We’re gearing all of our attention toward Patrick County and making sure we know all we can about them.
Off to their best start (5-0) since 1996, one of the Eagles’ goals is winning the Piedmont District regular season title and tonight is another step in that direction. With a big matchup with another possible PD unbeaten, Magna Vista, next week, Anderson wants his team to maintain the focus on the Cougars and nothing else.
As for Patrick County head coach Kenny Perry, he said his players have been antsy with the Homecoming festivities. Beyond that, however, it remains basics and fundamentals, such as tackling that continues to plague the Cougars.
“We’ve been working on our fundamentals like our tackling, because the best way to stop a team with (G.W.-Danville’s) speed is to be fundamentally sound,” Perry said. “I think the guys will definitely be energized with the crowd.”