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High School Football: Vikings, Knights Advance

High School football is alive and well across the Roanoke Valley on Thanksgiving weekend, as three area schools (Northside, Cave Spring and Salem) punched their ticket to their respective region championship games.

Northside Storms Back in 2nd Half

The Vikings (9-2) struggled early against the spread offense of the Brookville Bees Friday night, surrendering two touchdown passes in the first quarter to fall in a 13-0 hole. But Northside remained composed, and after some key halftime adjustments, scored 21 unanswered points in the second half to win, 21-13.

“We just had to make sure the kids stayed focused, stayed together, and just tried to concentrate on the next series,” Coach Burt Torrence said of the team’s mindset after falling behind. “To be able to come back, it says a lot about the character of our players, and how they respond when the chips are down.”

The difference between the first and second half was like night and day. In the first half, the Bees had 201 yards passing. In the second half, the Vikings defense held Brookville to minus-8 yards of total offense. As usual, Northside had their way on the ground, racking up 192 yards rushing. Dustin Phelps led the Vikings with 106 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Northside will face the Liberty Minutemen on Friday night at 7 p.m. for the Region III Division 3 championship and a trip to the state playoffs on the line. It’s only the second time in 49 years that the Vikings have been in the region title game.

“They have an experienced, veteran football team, and we don’t, in all honesty,” Torrence said. “For us, it’ll be about venturing into the unknown, but we’re going to try to treat it like any other game.”

Knights Dominate G-Men

Students storm the field after Cave Spring’s big win.
Students storm the field after Cave Spring’s big win.

Having faced the Graham G-Men once before, Cave Spring head coach Tim Fulton was nervous. He’d watched a lot of film on Graham (5-7), and saw a different team from the one his players had thrashed 55-12 in September.

On Friday night at Bogle Stadium, Fulton found out quickly that his team had no intention of taking the G-Men lightly. On the Knights’ first play from scrimmage, quarterback Josh Woodrum connected with Quentin Dill for an 82-yard touchdown and Cave Spring cruised to a 42-0 victory.

“We stayed focused all week, and I’m really proud of our effort, and proud that we didn’t overlook them,” Fulton said. “I thought we were really prepared.”

After consecutive 2-8 seasons, the Knights (9-2) now find themselves in the Region IV Division 3 championship, their first trip to the region title game since 2005.

“It feels great, and I’m really happy for our kids,” Fulton said. “They went through the lean times, remained true to the program, and now we’re seeing them reap the rewards of their hard work.”

Erik Jacobsen (#12) made his one pass reception count by scoring a touchdown.
Erik Jacobsen (#12) made his one pass reception count by scoring a touchdown.

Waiting for them will be perennial power and defending region champ Richlands (10-1). “They’re a young team but they’re definitely talented,” Fulton said, raving about their team speed. “We’ll definitely have our hands full.

Kickoff at Bogle Stadium is set for 7:30pm.

Titans Fall to Christiansburg

Sometimes revenge can be a bitter pill to swallow.

Such was the case for the Hidden Valley Titans on Saturday afternoon, as the Christiansburg Blue Demons got retribution from their River Ridge District rival and advanced to the Region IV Division 4 championship with a 28-3 victory.

In October, the Titans used a dominating defensive performance to hand the Blue Demons their first loss of the season, 28-21. But this time around, the Blue Demons held the Titans offense in check, limiting star running back David Williams to 86 yards rushing and constantly handing Hidden Valley poor field position.

“Everything we did to them the first time around, they did to us on Saturday,” Titans Coach Scott Weaver said. “They just out-executed us.”

Weaver bemoaned mistakes that ruined some of the Titans’ drives. “We honestly moved the ball pretty well, but we had a lot of instances where we’d get a 10 or 15 yard run, and have a holding call, and then we’re looking at 1st and 20 or 2nd and 23,” Weaver said. “You can’t do that against a good team and expect to win.”

The season now over, the Titans (7-4) are left to reflect on a campaign full of accomplishments.

“I’m just extremely proud of our kids,” Weaver said. “All credit goes to them and our coaching staff for their hard work. For us to go 4-1 in the River Ridge District was phenomenal, to me. Our goal now is to establish a consistent program.”

Christiansburg, meanwhile, is off to face the Salem Spartans for the region title. The Spartans registered an uncharacteristically sloppy performance against Magna Vista before escaping with a 14-7 win. One can only hope that the rematch between the Spartans (11-0) and the Blue Demons (9-3) is anywhere near as scintillating as their first meeting – a 45-43 triple overtime win for Salem.

By Matt Reeve
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