By Marty Gordon
We now know what a spring high school football will look like: cold temperatures, teams moving games to locations with artificial turf and the sound of fans or should we say the lack of fans.
So far, schools have adjusted to having little or no attendance and to changing their schedules on the fly. Auburn has played two games at Christiansburg High School, and Radford is considering some games at Blacksburg High School. What they have in common is the fact that both Christiansburg and Blacksburg have recently installed artificial turf fields.
Athletic directors worry how much damage playing on the real grass at home might do to the fields.
A game two weeks ago at Christiansburg High School included almost an inch of ice on the bleachers. School officials moved quickly to have employees shovel the ice off before what few fans there were arrived.
If you have never experienced the roar of the crowd as a student-athlete runs over 40 yards for a touchdown, maybe you will not understand why no fans in the stands is a big difference this year. When you’re sitting in the press box and you’re able to hear the head coach call a play on the opposite side of the field, there is something different. In most cases, the small group of people in attendance can hear players talking to each other on the field and referees announcing the penalty without the use of a microphone. Things are definitely different this season.
On the field, we have learned Blacksburg is not your typical Blacksburg team after falling to 0-3. Christiansburg is showing improvement but has yet to pick up a win this season, and Radford is ready for a run into the playoffs.
Game previews for this week:
Narrows (2-0) at Eastern Montgomery (2-1)
Last week: Eastern Montgomery got its second win of the year, 33-7 over Bath. Seth Burleson scored on an 84-yard run and returned a fumble for another touchdown. Eli Brown finished with 111 yards rushing for the Mustangs.
Narrows has not allowed a score in two contests: 59-0 over Bath and 32-0 over Parry McCluer.
Prediction: Eastern Montgomery 32, Narrows 28.
Grayson County (1-0) at Auburn (1-1)
Last week: Auburn took it on the chin against Fort Chiswell.
Grayson sat out last week but picked up a 24-20 win over Holston the week before.
Prediction: Auburn 40, Grayson 21.
Blacksburg (0-3) at Pulaski (3-0)
Last week: Blacksburg sputtered in a 34-7 loss to Cave Spring.
Pulaski took a 28-7 win at Christiansburg as Ethan Gallimore came off the bench to rush for 138 yards and three touchdowns. Drew Dalton completed 15 of 16 passes for 183 yards and a touchdown.
Prediction: Pulaski 48, Blacksburg 6
Radford (1-0) at Alleghany (0-2)
Last week: Radford downed James River 46-8 as P.J. Prioleau rushed for 80 yards and three touchdowns in his first game back after a season-ending knee injury last year. Zane Rupe completed eight of nine passes for 133 yards. He also threw for two scores in the win. James River rushed for only 22 yards in the game and had only 29 yards passing. Radford’s Xavier Cobb returned a kickoff 83 yards for a touchdown.
Alleghany was held to a -8 yards of total offense in a 58-7 loss to Floyd.
Prediction: Radford 50, Alleghany 7.
Christiansburg (0-2) at Hidden Valley (0-2)
Last week: Christiansburg fell 28-7 to Pulaski as the offense had 138 yards on the ground, none through the air, and managed only seven first downs.
Hidden Valley had an open week but fell to Pulaski 48-7 two weeks ago.
Prediction: Christiansburg 32, Hidden Valley 14.