By Marty Gordon
A member of Blacksburg High School’s outstanding football team has announced plans to play football in college at Averett University. On Wednesday, Cole Epperley announced his verbal commitment to the Danville school.
The 6-1, 189-pound linebacker led the Bruins in tackles this past season and was named all-county/all-city along with all-River Ridge District first team.
Epperley said he picked Averett because it felt like the best fit for him. “Every single one of the coaches believed in me and wanted me. That’s what made my decision so easy because I wanted to go somewhere where I was wanted,” he said.
His decision was announced on the Blacksburg football twitter page. “First off, I would like to thank God for allowing me to play the sport I love. Without him, none of this would be possible.”
Averett has a Christiansburg connection in its offensive line coach, Patrick Bolen who is a CHS graduate and former coach. He was Epperley’s primary recruiter.
Cleive Adams is his fourth year as Averett’s head coach and guided the team this past year to its best record (8-2) in the program’s history, including going 6-1 in the USA South Conference.
Epperley plans to major in education with a goal of becoming a high school physical education teacher and possibly becoming a football coach.
“My goals for the football field is just to go out there and compete and prove to the coaches I belong on the field. I’m going to give 100 percent at whatever i do and then everything should happen the way i want it to,” he said.
The linebacker has been a part of a state championship team and two other playoff runs at Blacksburg. He calls it an awesome experience.
“To be a part of such a great program is just amazing. I’meally going to miss high school football,” Epperly said.
Another Blacksburg player, Grant Johnston, participated in this past week’s Blue-Grey All-American high school all-star game in Dallas, Texas. The East team that included Johnston won 26-7, and the Blacksburg senior through a 24-yard touchdown early in the contest.
A Blacksburg High-alum has also received some early-baseball season honors. Ethan Goforth is a junior at Carson Newman and has been named to the preseason All-South Atlantic Conference team.
“Catcher is the most important role on any ball club,” Carson-Newman coach Tom Griffin said. “You ain’t going to win a championship without a solid catcher. I did a recent talk about offensive versus defensive catcher. At the Major League level, the combination didn’t hit but .215 for the Red Sox.
“You have to have that guy that can lead that pitching staff because that’s the key to the whole game is your pitching and defense. It all starts behind the dish. Ethan does a great job of knowing what to do and buying into what we have to do.”
The last time the program saw a catcher be named to a preseason squad came prior to the 2017 campaign when seasoned veteran Gooch Greer was placed on the second team.
As a sophomore, the Blacksburg native became the first catcher to be an all-conference pick and a Gold Glove winner in the same season for C-N being tabbed on the second club in 2018.
Goforth finished fourth in the SAC in stolen bases (17) and sixth in doubles (19) while racking up 21 multi-hit games and six multi-RBI games. The backstop led the SAC by throwing out 16 runners attempting to steal a bag, a 33 percent runner caught stealing percentage.
The junior played in every game catching nearly every inning for coach Tom Griffin’s unit. He opened 2018 with a seven-game hitting streak going 10-for-23 (.435) with a bomb and six RBIs.