The first two weeks of the high school football season have provided just one local home game each Friday.
Finally, in Week 3, we have three. Three of the four local teams will be playing on their home turf in front of their home crowds, and for Bassett and Magna Vista, the home openers will certainly be sweet after travelling quite long distances in Weeks 1 and 2.
Magna Vista will take it’s unbeaten record up against another unbeaten, William Fleming out of Roanoke. Bassett and Martinsville will both come home looking for their first wins of the season. The Bengals will take on visiting William Byrd, and the Bulldogs will take on Dogwood District foe Dan River.
Patrick County will go on the road tonight to Christiansburg.
All four games are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.
Here’s at look at what to expect in each matchup:
WILLIAM FLEMING (2-0) AT MAGNA VISTA (2-0)
Magna Vista has gone up against formidable foes in Liberty Christian and Dan River so far this season, and the defense has had its way with both teams, forcing half a dozen turnovers in two games, and holding each squad to 14 and 6 points.
Even though they’ve had big wins, the non-conference schedule doesn’t get any easier for the Warriors in Game 3. They’ll take on a William Fleming squad that has a 42-point victory over Harrisonburg High School, and a two-point victory over Rockbridge County high school so far this season.
The Colonials have already surpassed their win total from a season ago when they went 1-8 under first year head coach Jamar Lovelace. Now in his second season, Lovelace seems to have helped the team turn the corner from rebuilding to fully built.
Fleming has scored 80 points in two games, tasking the Warriors “Blue Funk” defense with another high-powered offense to stop. The offense is led by quarterback Deaquan Nichols, who had three touchdowns, two rushing and one passing, last week against Rockbridge, while also rushing for 104 yards and throwing for 78. Nichols also caught an interception on defense.
The Warriors have proven the defense is no slouch this season, but Fleming could be the toughest opponent yet.
WILLIAM BYRD (1-1) AT BASSETT (0-2)
The Terriers were one of the strongest teams in VHSL Class 4 in recent seasons, but haven’t seen quite that level of success so far this year in a drop down to Class 3. Playing under first year head coach Brad Lutz, William Byrd defeated Cave Spring by 21 points on opening night, but came back with a 22-7 loss to Hidden Valley last week.
Tonight is Byrd’s first game on the road. Their only score a week ago came on fumble recovery on the first play of the game. They finished the night with five turnovers, including three interceptions.
Bassett’s struggles defensively last week against Pulaski came in stopping the run, but Byrd doesn’t seem to have the offensive firepower the Cougars had. Asa team the Terriers rushed for 132 yards on 31 carries last week.
DAN RIVER (1-1) AT MARTINSVILLE (0-2)
Dan River and Martinsville has become a basketball rivalry in recent years, but the matchup on the football field has leaned in the Wildcats’ favor. The two teams have played one another the last six years, with Dan River winning four of those games, including a 46-7 victory a season ago.
Martinsville defeated Dan River in 2017, 56-28. The teams have traded victories the last four years.
Dan River again comes into Friday’s matchup with the upper-hand in terms of record, but the Wildcats are coming off of a 20-6 loss to Magna Vista, a game in which they rushed for 138 yards and passed for 95, but had three turnovers.
Martinsville’s offense, with freshman quarterback Rayshawn Dickerson, saw life at the end of the team’s loss to Galax a week ago, but is still looking for a breakout.
It’s the defense that has been the biggest struggle for Martinsville, allowing 91 points in two games. With Dan River, it’s hard to know what offense will show up. They scored in single-digits against Magna Vista, but put up 35 points in Week 1 against Tunstall.
PATRICK COUNTY (1-1) AT CHRISTIANSBURG (2-0)
Patrick County is one or two plays away from being unbeaten this season, losing to Floyd County by one point a week ago. The improved Cougars have gotten it done on the offensive and defensive ends this season, but youth played a factor in their loss last Friday.
Patrick County’s defense has led the way in the early part of the season. They forced two turnovers by Floyd last week, and held the Buffaloes to fewer than 100 yards in both the rushing and passing games.
The Cougars will need to play nearly perfect against a Christiansburg team that has scored 63 points in two games this season. The Blue Demons are coming off of a 28-13 victory over Giles, a game in which senior running back Maston Stanley ran for 209 yards and two touchdowns.
Cara Cooper is the sports editor of the Martinsville Bulletin. You can reach her at (276)638-8801 ext. 241.