The early race for the Piedmont District’s top running back is off and running already.
With just one week in the books, both Magna Vista senior Louis Taylor and Patrick County junior Dae’Shawn Penn are making early cases for the title.
In Game 1, Taylor bested Penn when it came to scoring, reaching the endzone five times in the Warriors’ win over Liberty Christian. Penn, though, had the advantage on yards, finishing the night with an insane 256 on the ground, single-handedly running for more yards than Magna Vista, Bassett, and Martinsville’s teams combined.
Both runners were efficient in their carries. Penn averaged 16 yards per touch, while Taylor average a touchdown for ever 2.4 carries. Both were also far and away the centerpieces of their team’s offenses, and will likely play that role again this week.
Magna Vista will travel to take on Dan River tonight, a team that allowed Tunstall to put up 185 yards rushing a week ago. Patrick County will play their home opener against Floyd County, a team that allowed Christiansburg running back Maston Stanley to run for 181 yards and three scores a week ago.
There’s a good chance the battle for running back supremacy in the PD heats up even further after Week 2.
Here’s a look at all four local games tonight:
Floyd County (0-1) at Patrick County (1-0)
Floyd County has defeated the Cougars each of the last nine years, all by significant margins. Patrick County’s last win against the Buffaloes came in a 12-7 home victory in 2009.
The Cougars faced similar history last week against Carroll County, a team they’d hadn’t defeated since 2015, and came out on top. Now, they’ll look to get off to a 2-0 start at home against a Floyd County team coming off of a 35-16 loss to Christiansburg.
Four of Christiansburg’s five touchdowns last week came on the ground, a good omen for the run heavy Cougars. Patrick County didn’t attempt a single pass against the Cavaliers last week, running 32 plays and gaining 346 yards.
Tonight’s game will have more significance for Patrick County as they play their first game against a region opponent after dropping down to VHSL Class 2 this season. A win against Floyd will not only be a good gauge of where the team stands in Region 2C, but also will help with playoff points.
The Cougars haven’t started the season 2-0 since 2008, and have only won two games in a season five times in that span. Tonight, they have a good chance of changing that statistic.
Magna Vista (1-0) at Dan River (1-0)
Both Magna Vista and Dan River are coming off of statement wins to start the season last week. The Warriors had an emphatic 49-14 win over Liberty Christian, while the Wildcats are coming off of a 35-7 win over Tunstall, the team that knocked Magna Vista out of the playoffs a season ago.
The Warriors and Wildcats found success last week in similar ways too, with the defenses coming up big. Dan River intercepted Tunstall quarterback Dylan Burnett three times last week, and forced four Trojan fumbles.
The Wildcats were similarly sloppy on offense, with quarterback Tracy Glass throwing an interception, and the team fumbling three times, losing two. This bodes well for Magna Vista, a team that had a pick-6 and forced two additional turnovers against LCA. For Magna Vista to find success against Dan River the Blue Funk will have to repeat their performance from a week ago.
The two teams have traded wins against one another the last four seasons, with Magna Vista most recently coming away victorious in 2018, winning 28-6.
Bassett (0-1) at Pulaski County (1-0)
Bassett’s non-district schedule has been unforgiving the last few seasons, and 2019 is no different. After opening the season a week ago against Rustburg, a team that reached the Region 3C playoffs a season ago, the Bengals follow that with a trip to Pulaski County, a team that reached the second round of the Region 4A playoffs last year.
Winning in Pulaski will be a tall task for the Bengals. The Cougars are coming off of a 14-0 win over Northside last week, holding the Vikings to just 30 yards rushing and 37 passing. Bassett’s offense struggled last week against Rustburg, putting up just 87 total yards of offense.
The Bengals strong suit, though, is their defense, which could prove helpful against a Pulaski team that went the entire first half last week without finding the endzone. Both the Cougars touchdowns came on two and three yard runs. They attempted just four passes for eight yards in the air.
The schedule doesn’t get much easier for Bassett the next two weeks, so a win will be important to not put themselves in too much of an early hole.
Martinsville (0-1) at Galax (1-0)
Martinsville’s offense mustered just 49 total yards a week ago against Morehead. Galax had 435.
The Maroon Tide are coming off of a 32-29 shootout win over Glenvar last week. While they were able to move the chains with ease, the defense still allowed 130 yards rushing and 156 passing, with Glenvar scoring four touchdowns. Tonight would be a good night for the Bulldogs to showcase their athletes and put some points on the board.
Galax is the only team in a class smaller than Martinsville that the Bulldogs will play this season. The Maroon Tide reached the VHSL Class 1 state semifinals a season ago.
Cara Cooper is the sports editor of the Martinsville Bulletin. You can reach her at (276)638-8801 ext. 241.