Two area teams stand out as we move into the second part of this high school season. Both Blacksburg and Radford have grabbed the headlines. If I had to break out the report card, I would give the 6-0 Blacksburg an A-plus and 5-1 Radford a B.
Auburn would also receive a B as they have surprised a lot of people with a roster loaded with underclassmen. Eastern Montgomery is finding the going tough this season and receives a C-minus on Jordan Stewart’s report card. Christiansburg, who continues to struggle on the gridiron, sees a D grade.
Individually, there are several halfway standouts that are pushing for player of the year honors:
Radford’s P.J. Prioleau: the sophomore has dominated the line of scrimmage this season and has 102 carries for 705 yards. He seems poised to reach the 1,000-yard mark in the next two games. He has also played quarterback and receiver this season.
Auburn’s Payson Kelley: the sophomore has picked up where he left off last season. As the team’s quarterback, he has rushed 76 times for 535 yards.
Blacksburg’s Grant Johnston: the 6’4 senior has been under center the past three years and is a main season for the Bruins undefeated record. He is now 75 of 118 for 1,474 yards on the season.
Marty’s High five: 1) Blacksburg, 2) Northside, 3) Pulaski, 4) Glenvar, 5) Salem; Poll busters to watch: Radford and Auburn.
The Virginia High School Football Rankings Top 25, according to MaxPreps: 1) Stone Bridge, 2) Highland Springs, 3) Flint Hill, 4) Manchester, 5) Oscar Smith, 6) Northside, 7) Blacksburg, 8) Centreville, 9) Westfield, 10) Dinwiddie.
Pulaski County (5-1) at Christiansburg (1-5)
Last week: Pulaski downed Hidden Valley 49-21 as QB Kade Akers rushed, threw and returned an interception, all for touchdowns. He finished 10 of 14 for 108 yards through the air and rushed eight times for 32 yards.
Salem beat Christiansburg 41-7. The Blue Demons were held to 180 yards of total offense while giving up 486 yards. Caleb Henley had five catches for 74 yards.
Scouting report: Stephen James is in his fifth season with a 27-16 mark after finishing 6-4 last season. The Cougars return five starters on each side of the ball.
Pulaski is a run-based offense but will rely heavily on the pass with Cade Akers (6-2, 190) who threw 216 times last season for 2,191 yards and 20 touchdowns after transferring from Arizona. So far, this season, he is 48 of 77 with two interceptions for 746 yards.
Aker’s favorite target is E.J. Horton (6-2, 175) who has 23 catches for 446 yards.
Jakari Finley (5-11, 185, soph.) will see most of the carries along with junior Gage Mannon (6-0, 190, junior). The offensive line is big with Chandler Dunnigan (6-3, 250, soph.) and Jaxson Callahan (6-1, 265, sr.). The other side of the line is led by Camden Mariotti (5-11, 210) and Noah O’Dell (6-3, 210) who are tough on the run.
Broadcast: 100.7 FM, 107.1 FM.
Floyd (1-5) at Radford (5-1)
Last week: Floyd fell 14-13 to Carroll County in double overtime on a missed point after kick. Jared Nichols rushed for 107 yards and threw a touchdown.
Radford shut out Giles 38-0 on the Salem Stadium turf. P.J. Prioleau carried 11 times for 51 yards and scored four times in the rout. QB Zane Rupe was eight of 11 for 100 yards and rushed for a touchdown. Sophomore Connor Lytton connected on a 43-yard field goal.
Scouting report: the Buffaloes finished 9-3 last season after beating Christiansburg 18-0 in the 2017 opener for both teams. Knocked out of the state playoffs after losing 24-0 to Gretna.
Interesting note: Beale is one the top three active winningest coaches in the state. This will be his 28th year on the sidelines with no signs of retiring.
Broadcast: 101.7 FM.
Blacksburg (6-0) at Cave Spring
Last week: the Blacksburg rushing tandem of Brian Mitchell and Tiquest Terry combined for 191 yards on the ground. Mitchell scored twice, and Terry who had five catches for 67 yards, caught a pass for a touchdown. QB Grant Johnston was 13 of 20 for 169 yards. On the season, Johnston is now 75 of 118 for 1,474 yards. Terry has 21 catches for 495 yards.
Scouting report: Cave Spring is trying to rebound after a 2-9 season. Runningback Zach Bowling (5-10, 190, sr.) returns from a torn ACL that sidelined him for the entire 2017 season. He rushed for 1,343 yards as a sophomore. QB Jacob Knight (6-4, 215, senior) returns after passing for over a 1,000-yards, his third time in three years. Lucas Duncan (6-0, 170) and John Milby (5-10, 170) are his favorite targets.
The Knights do match up well with Blacksburg on both sides of the line with Jack Parker (6-4, 290) and Tyson Alderman (6-1, 247).
Broadcast: 97.1/93.1 FM, 810 AM.
Eastern Montgomery at Bath County (3-2)
Last week: two weeks ago, Eastern Montgomery downed Bland 30-22. Bath slipped by Pocahontas 24-21.
Scouting report: Bath finished 2-8 a year ago but does return eight starters on both sides of the ball. Their only victories last season were over Craig and Grace Christian. The team has only produced two wins every season for the past six years. Connor Call (5’11, 188, jr.) was the team’s second leading rusher and leading receiver in 2017. Trey Shaver (5’11, 180, sr.) will again be under center of the option offense. Last year, Shaver rushed for 574 yards.
The team does have some beef up font with Kemar Archer (5’10, 215), Kaleb Loan (5’11, 218), Billy Baldwin (6’1, 265), Austin Wolfe (5’11, 240) and Chandler Keyser (5’10, 260). Linebacker Sean Gardner (6’1, 203) leads the team on defense. Eastern Montgomery took last year’s contest 19-0.
Auburn (3-3) at Grayson County (5-1)
Last week: Grayson shutout Bland 28-0 with quarterback Jake Hollingsworth carrying the ball 20 times for 130 yards. He also threw for a touchdown in the contest. Levi Johnson also rushed for 88 yards on 19 carries with a touchdown. Defensively, they held Bland to 35 yards of total offense.
Auburn fell to Ft. Chiswell 20-14. The Eagles lead 14-12 going into the fourth quarter. Payson Kelley rushed for a score and threw for another. On the season, Kelley has 565 yards.
Scouting report: Brett McPherson is in his 13th season and has compiled a 65-66 mark including 7-5 last season, losing in the second round of the Class 2 Region D second round. Those were the most wins posted by the school since 2012. Grayson beat Ridgeview before losing to Graham.
Jake Hollingsworth (5’8, 165) enters his third year as QB. Last season, he threw for 1,022 yards last season with 14 touchdowns. Levi Johnson (5’7, 150) lead the team in rushing with 883 yards. Hollingsworth also rush for 749 yards. Linebacker Crue Cassell (6’0, 250) is back after ranking up 48 solo tackles. Look for tight end Devon Poe (6’1, 185) and wide receiver Chase Pope (6’1, 155) to play a role in the final score.