“Who let the dogs out!” is this year’s theme for our annual high school football preview, and I would like to thank photographer, Kymn Davidson-Hamley for all her hard work in wrangling the dogs and their owners to assemble the cute cover and back page you will see today.
Several new rules will affect teams on Friday night, but the biggest could be the change in play clocks. The new rules include a difference in 40- and 25-second clocks.
The rationale behind the clock change is to have a more consistent time period between downs, the rules committee approved situations where 40 seconds will be placed on the play clock. The new rule defines when 40 seconds will be placed on the play clock and when 25 seconds will be placed on the play clock.
For more rule adjustments, check out the front page of the football preview section.
There are so many other things high school football fans need to know, and here are just a few of the important ones:
Where to listen to games on Friday night: Blacksburg High School games can be heard on 93.1 and 97.1 FM with Mark Fought making the calls and Brad Epperley as his color commentator.
Christiansburg football can be found on 100.7 with myself and Darren Graham. Pulaski County football is slated for 107.1 FM with the call by Dan Callihan and Shay Dunnigan. Radford football will be broadcast on 101.7, 103.5 and 1460 AM with Jeff Kleppin and Richie Davis.
Christiansburg, Pulaski and Radford can also be RHS – www.wradradio.com and Tune-In App
CHS – www.hot100nrv.com and Tune-In App, PCHS – www.107countrypsk.com and Tune-In App. ESPN radio Blacksburg (101.3 and 105.9) will also broadcast a Game of the Week with the schedule being released in a week.
Games to watch this season:
Gretna at Radford on September 13. By the third game of the season, the Bobcats should be 2-0 and Gretna could be the stepping-stone for a great season; Radford at Glenvar on October 25 will decide Three Rivers District domination.
Salem at Blacksburg on September 27 will set the stage for the Bruins run into another postseason. The following week Blacksburg will travel to Pulaski.
Patrick County at Christiansburg on September 13 will mean the Blue Demons are three games into a new chapter of the school. This will be the first time the two schools have faced each other. Last season, the final berth in the state playoffs came down to these two schools.
Eastern Montgomery’s September 20 trip to county-rival Auburn is an annual date to circle on the calendar as they battle for the “golden helmet.”
Players to watch:
Our preseason player of the year has to be the 2018 player of the year, P.J. Prioleau of Radford. I expect Prioleau to lead his team on another postseason run, and to put up some great numbers on the gridiron. Without a big upset, he should be the player of the year when the dust clears.
The 2018 defensive player of the year Matson Stanley of Christiansburg seems poised to make his senior year something to remember. I expect him to be the area’s top defensive player of 2019.
The player to watch is Connor Lytton, the Radford kicker who hit a 47-yard field goal in last week’s benefit game against Pulaski. He simply is an offensive weapon that a lot of teams only dream of. I am listing him as the preseason offensive player of the year.
My predictions for this season: Auburn 4-5, Eastern Montgomery 5-5, Radford 9-1, Blacksburg 7-3 and Christiansburg 5-5.
Pick ‘em panel: This year, Walmart manager Brian Tickle has left us, and we have been joined by Jon Coburn, who will represent the business community. Coburn is the owner and general manager of Bull and Bones Brewhaus in Christiansburg and Blacksburg.
The rest of the panel remains the same from last year and includes defending champ, Greg Holbrook of the Radford Recreation Department; Brad Epperley, the director of the Christiansburg Recreation Center; Probation officer Leigh Ann Henderson; Randy Hall, specials event director from the Blacksburg Recreation Center; and myself. Hall has won the panel picks’ championship belt twice in the past three years.
The Virginia High School League is doing everything it can to prevent injuries this season. They sent out the following: “Football players are limited to a maximum of ninety (90) minutes of full contact practice per week. For the purposes of this rule, ‘full contact’ is deﬁned as game situation; tackling to the ground; playing football. Additionally, activities commonly referred to as “THUD,” are considered full contact by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS). Coaches are reminded that THUD activities must be included in the ninety (90) minutes of allowable full contact.
The Virginia High School League is also looking for a new executive director. The advertisement is running on vhls.org. The VHSL Executive Committee has established the following qualifications for the next executive director of the Virginia High School League:
An earned bachelor’s degree is required.
An earned master’s degree is preferred.
Experience as a school or central office administrator is preferred.
Experience as an athletic director is preferred.
Experience in Virginia is preferred.
Leadership & Management – The successful candidate is decisive, creative and visionary, and has the ability to facilitate consensus among different groups.
Stakeholder Communications – The successful candidate will communicate effectively with the membership, successfully advocate VHSL issues and needs, and effectively represent VHSL at the local, state, and national levels.
Budget & Finance – The successful candidate is experienced in budget development, management, and reporting.
Executive Committee Relations – The successful candidate has the ability to work with, support, and lead the VHSL Executive Committee through a variety of activities, including goal setting and planning, budget creation and monitoring, and policy and regulation development.
Staff Relations – The successful candidate is an effective organizational leader who maintains open channels of communication to and from staff and creates an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect.
Let’s play ball.