Scrimmage Play 2019 Football Preview

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vol 11. issue 1 :: August 26, 2019

The Job Begins The 2019 Football Preview page 7

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College Update Tyler-Cooper thriving at UNCG


Clear the path Our annual football preview for 2019


Back on the pitch Breaking down the field in hockey


SP on Transfers Why we don’t cover the act of transferring

The Job Begins vol 11 . issue 1 :: August 26, 2019

21 05


The search for side-out A look at the volleyball slate

vol 11. issue 1 :: August 26, 2019

The 2019 Football Preview pAge 7

S ta ff Bart Isley, Creative Director Bob Isley, Infrastructure Director Ryan Yemen, Creative Editor O n t h e Cov er Left to right: Iceysis Lewis, Walt Stribling, Jaylen Alexander, Jarett Hunter, Austin Shifflett. Cover Portrait by John Berry. M issio n Stat e me n t Local sports are the lifeblood of every community in America, and we’re here to reach beyond the basics and give compelling accounts about Central Virginia athletes to our readers. Con tact Us [ e ] [ p ] 434-202-0553

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Fluvanna County’s Kobe Edmonds breaks off a run during a scrimmage with former Jefferson District opponent William Monroe. Some of the older JD foes are rekindling the romance with familiar opponents, both in scrimmages and during the regular season. And with Powhatan out of the JD, there’s been room some old rivalries to return. The Dragons will face Western Albemarle for the first time since 2010. Goochland, which won the JD in 2009 scrimmaged Louisa County this year. ✖ (Photo by Brian Mellott)

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We’ve nearly done a full dozen of these covers Celebrating 11 years of Prep Sports coverage in Central Virginia. 47 20 QUESTIONS FOR FALL SPORTS


05 chAngE on ThE vollEybAll courT

26 gET ThAT scholArship


VOL 4 . ISSUE 1 :: SEPT. 2012

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vol 5 . issue 2 :: august 26, 2013

Alter Egos

The Unsung Offense always gets the love. Defense gets the job done. PAGE 27

The best football players in the area have a super hero ‘problem’ page 7

2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 issue 1-4 from mac.indd 1

8/20/12 3:17 AM

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VOL 9. ISSUE 1 :: AUGUST 22, 2017

Where there’s smoke The 2017 Football Preview PAGE 07

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Putting in the work

The 2018 Football Preview pAge 7

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First Quarter

The search for side-out Albemarle volleyball looks to lead the field again in ‘19 By Bart Isley


Albemarle’s Adalee Lynch is coming of a 231-kill campaign as a junior. (Ashley Thornton)

{ AHS Kill Record } The four highest marks for kills in a season at Albemarle were set in just a three-year period.

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stepahnie strauss (2010) K ar a Elder

362 350 Hannah L awson (2009)

K ara Elder (2008)

Megan Napolitano (2010)

404 382

hen you’re building a front line in volleyball it’s obviously critical to find that reliable outside that can put the ball down every time. That can provide that critical threat on the edge that prevents opponents from loading up in the middle.

Albemarle has that threat in Adalee Lynch and she’s a big reason why the Patriots are eyeing another Jefferson District title and perhaps a return to the state tournament after falling in the Region 5D semifinals a year ago.. Lynch, the Patriots’ team leader in kills a year ago, returns to the lineup for Albemarle, a powerful senior capable of finishing most any set. As part of a balanced attack last year with now graduated Esther Amos and fellow returner Maya Winterhoff, Lynch notched 231 kills on the year. If her accuracy goes up a notch after hitting .262 a year ago, Lynch could be in for a monster campaign. Winterhoff is another big reason for optimism after her breakout freshman season as a middle blocker where she led the Patriots in hitting percentage and blocks. Both Lynch and Winterhoff will get a major boost from Keira Roach’s return. As a sophomore, she led the Patriots in assists and having a consistent setter should give the offense rhythm right out of the gate. Senior Olivia Turner is also capable of triggering the offense. The Patriots return senior defensive specialist Maggie Webber and add junior Franceszca Penaredondo as another option on the backline. Western Albemarle will look to challenge the Patriots for the district title with a host of returners led by outside hitter Sarah Rhea and Christopher Newport-commit and middle Caity Driver up front. Amber Parker, Natalie Peck and Amelia Nichols are back to give the Warriors options on the backline as defensive specialists. Sophomore Brooke Chavez will give the Warriors another option at the net. Expect sophomore Annabella Pandelli to take over at setter with the graduation of Sierra McCance. Fluvanna County will lean heavily on Lindsey

Ward, a captain a year ago who rang up 705 assists at setter. The Flucos will need hitting options for Ward to pass to with the graduation of Christina Walker and Katie Morris, but Fluvanna has consistently found ways to reload at outside and middle over the last few years. Monticello undergoes a revamp with the graduation of long-time contributors Jewell Pugh, Allie Cognata and Allison Davis. They’ll turn to Adaire Burnsed and Olivia Davis in increased roles as outside hitters while a trio of sophomores, Carrie Devine, Anne Krehmeyer and Abby Christian will play key roles as setter, libero and middle respectively. Outside the JD, state semifinalists Madison County, the reigning Region 2B champs, bring back some key pieces including first team All-Region pick Abi Tanner, but they’ll also have to contend with the graduation of Makenna Santinga and Allie Burbridge. Emily Dodson also returns to the front line while Frances Sukley, Mila Myers and Lindsay McDaniels look to replace Santinga at setter. Goochland brings back a strong senior class and multiple starters in the fold. First team all-region pick Trinity Wonderling returns at setter as well as second team pick Mary King, a senior middle blocker. With that experience, the Bulldogs should compete for a Region 2A title. William Monroe will look to bounce back from last year’s 8-13 mark with Mara Woolford back and Morgan Lam back as outside hitters and Lexi Clark at libero. They’ll need a new setter without Ainsle Whitmarsh but freshman Ella Weaver could be an impact player as a middle hitter. ✖

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College Update

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Celebrated Albemarle alumnus thriving in goal at UNCG By Bart Isley It’s hard to say just how incredible Aiyanah TylerCooper was as a high school goalie. That’s in part because Tyler-Cooper rarely got a chance to make stops because the defense in front of her was so good and able to stay so aggressive because Tyler-Cooper was going to be there. But in the moments where they needed her most, Tyler-Cooper came up big for Albemarle every single time. Like the stuff she made on a penalty kick against Briar Woods to preserve a shutout in the Region 5A North quarterfinals, a momentum changing play that led to a 4-0 win. Or the six saves in the state title game to help seal the first state title in program history. She was there for UNC-Greensboro too in her first year on campus, taking over as the program’s starting goalie as a freshman. Like at Albemarle, she shined the most in the playoffs as she ignited the No. 3-seeded Spartans in the Southern Conference tournament as a freshman by allowing just a single goal in three games as UNCG made a tremendous run to the conference title and earned an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. It took UNC-Greensboro just one game to

make Tyler-Cooper the regular starter after she came in in relief against Florida State in the season opener. She went on to lead the Southern Conference in save percentage with a mark of .848 and was second in saves and shutouts (eight on the year in conference). Things improved in her sophomore campaign where she earned second team All-Southern Conference honors. She’s now posted 14 shutouts, good for ninth all-time at UNCG already. That’s another through-line back to her high school days where she had 40 shutouts in 45 career starts. She’s off to a solid start in 2019 as a junior, with 15 saves in just two games. Tyler-Cooper was, quite simply, a wall in high school, allowing just five goals her entire senior season as the Patriots rambled to that state championship with a 22-0 record and avenged a state semifinal loss in TylerCooper’s junior season. One thing she’s proven already ­— in big moments when UNCG needs her, she’ll be there. Which comes as no surprise to anyone who saw her in high school. Some players wilt when the lights are brightest. Tyler-Cooper thrives. ✖

BELOW » 2017 state champion and Albemarle graduate Aiyanah Tyler-Cooper is up to her same old goal-stealing antics at UNC-Greensboro this fall. (UNCG Sports Information)

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clear the

2019 Football preview

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very path has a beginning. Clearing it requires work. For the 19 football programs in Central Virginia, the task at hand is the same. All roads point in the same direction, competing hard and finiding a way to play for a state championship in their division. Setting up the right path, a managable road, well that’s different for each team. In 2018, Louisa County handled the Jefferson District again and ran through a second straight perfect regular season. Goochland also ran the

table in the regular season and then went on to win four playoff games before falling in the Class 2A championship. St. Anne’s-Belfield and Covenant ventured out in a new world of 8-man football and met eachother in the inaugural VISFL championship game with the Eagles going unbeaten in their 10-game slate. But so much of what made the 2018 season were the hills, the dips, the right turns and the left that saw programs make things different. No program turned more heads locally last fall than Fluvanna County. Few programs suffered through injuries like Charlottesville, but its 2018 finished with a bang in a rivalry game. After a pair of uncharacteristic down years, Western Albemarle’s youth movement put it back over .500 again. Both Buckingham County and Albemarle started out in deep holes before racing back to make the playoffs. Woodberry Forest returned to its Prep League championship form. And to start the season, Orange County showed what it really means to rally as a community around a fallen former teammate. There were no shortage of storylines last fall and with all that returns in 2019, this year should be rich with forks in the road. With the end of August near, Central Virginia is about to find out which programs have put in the work. Here are five athletes who know how to do the chores, the dirty jobs that make them stand out from the rest of the field. ✖

Feature Portraits by John Berry Writing by Ryan Yemen and Bart Isley Photos by Brian Mellott, Ashley Thornton :: 08



Jefferson District, 2018 record: 4-7 8/30 9/6 9/13 9/20 9/27 10/4 10/18 10/25 11/1 11/8

vs Mountain View @ Eastern View vs. Patrick Henry-Roanoke @ Harrisonburg @ Orange vs. Monticello vs. Fluvanna County @ Western Albemarle @ Charlottesville vs. Louisa County

Who’s Gone: Myles Ward (WR), Daquandre Taylor (qb), Marquan Jones (Db) Who’s Back: Mahki Washington (rb, Pictured Below), Jake rombach (DL), Nolan Pitsenberger (db) Who’s new: Jaymari Lindsay (lb), Jake King (QB), Ebenezer Mccarthy (RB)

Buckingham County


James river district, 2018 record: 6-5 8/30 9/13 9/20 9/27 10/4 10/11 10/18 10/25 11/1 11/8

vs. Appomattox vs. Goochland vs. Central Lunenburg @ Blue Stone @ Northumberland @ Cumberland vs. Randolph-Henry @ Amelia County vs. Prince Edward @ Nottoway

Who’s Gone: Thomas Test (ol/DL), qT Stanton (lb), Dashawn Bartee (wr/DB) Who’s Back: Cole Edmonston (ol/DL, pictured below), Garrett Hafley (ol/dl), tae Toney (qb/db), Xavier Copeland (wr/ Db), Walter Edwards (rb/LB), Martell Glover (lb/RB), Nathan Brickhill (Wr/DB) Who’s new: Dalante Woodson (de/fb)

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Patriots turn to youth to extend streak For Albemarle football, it’s officially a youth movement. Senior Jake Rombach returns as a threat on the edge and classmate Mahki Washington returns as one of the area’s best power running backs. There are also seasoned juniors Nolan Pitsenberger and Kyshon Howard, both leaders and playmakers in the secondary. But beyond that quartet of foundational players, the Patriots are mostly going to break in a ton of new faces and most will face a baptism by fire with Mountain View and Eastern View opening the Patriots’ schedule. Daquandre Taylor and Myles Ward both graduated and headed to UVa-Wise to play in college, taking a huge chunk of the offensive production with them, so the Patriots are going to be searching for playmakers. They’ll start that search at wide receiver with Aquon Sims, Robert Jones and Torry Green. Washington can give the offense a reliable threat in the run game when he’s healthy, and he’ll need to be big-time with Jake King stepping in as a first year starter at quarterback. It’s possible that the Patriots will employ even more power-based running than usual to meet the current skill set instead of the quarterback read-based spread attack they’ve used with J’Quan Anderson and Taylor. King, a sophomore, will have to grow up quickly, as will his classmate Ebenezer McCarthy who will likely

share the ground-game load with Washington. McCarthy’s older brother Kevin McCarthy was an All-Jefferson District performer for the Patriots back in 2013 and 2014 and his younger brother has shown a lot of early promise. Those skill position players will have to settle in behind a line that returns just Javarious Massie up front and will be trying to gel up front against a challenging schedule out of the gate. On defense, Malik Washington and sophomore Jacob Terry join Howard and Pitsenberger in the secondary, giving Albemarle a talented but young group. Pitsenberger is a gamer who plays bigger than his size and who’s toughness is unquestioned -- he was the district runnerup in wrestling last winter. Howard can blanket opposing wideouts at corner. Jaymari Lindsay will step into the front seven as a willing leader at linebacker while Rombach will try and put pressure on opposing quarterbacks despite likely seeing increased attention from opposing blockers. A year ago, Albemarle shook off an 0-4 start to win four straight games before a late season slide including a first-round playoff loss to Massaponax. If the Patriots can grow and show that kind of resilience in the face of adversity, it could extend its playoff streak to a fifthstraight season. ✖

Knights look to level up in James River Youth, injuries and a brutal schedule upfront put Buckingham County in a hole to start 2018. But not one big enough to ruin the season. The Knights fought hard to win their last four regular season games in a row to put themselves back in the playoffs for the first time since 2016. With low turnover and Seth Wilkerson’s presence at head coach bringing a calming, familiar feel to the program, the Knights are set to make another move in 2019. But then there’s that schedule. With Appomattox and Goochland to start the season, it’s hard to imagine a more difficult slate. Facing both early in the season will provide quite the litmus test. Buckingham has an experienced group of playmakers back in the fold on both sides of the ball. Health has been an issue his first two years on varsity, but Tae Toney is an absolute difference maker when he’s on the field. He’ll play at quarterback and look to be effective with both his arm and legs. Running back Walter Edwards is back and brings experience and a hard-nosed running style that makes an offensive line proud. With Cole Edmontson, Devonte Glover and Garrett Hafley, the Knights have a unit on the line that made big strides last year and is only

bigger and badder this year. With Xavier Copeland and Nathan Brickhill at receiver, this offense should be able to pose a threat in the air. On defense, the secondary is loaded between Toney, Copeland and Brickhill. Edmonston leads the defensive line but be on the lookout for Dalante Woodson to be a factor as well. Martell Glover anchors the middle at linebacker and has both Edwards and Mekkha Carmon on his flanks. In all this is a unit that gave up just 8.75 points in its last four regular season games, and with Wilkerson being a defensive minded coach from all his years as a coordinator, the identity of this team is its ability to be physical upfront and dangerously athletic in the secondary. Yes the Knights need to stay healthy, particularly with Toney and Edwards in the backfield on offense, and yes there are no favors on the schedule to start the year. But if this defense takes another step forward and the Knights are able to establish their brand of rushing attack, this is going to be a hard team to beat. While 6-5 and playoff spot was a great step last year, Wilkerson and his squad have their mind set on winning games in November this season. ✖

Charlottesville Football


scrımmageplay NO. 1 LOUISA COUNTY (7) 49 NO. 2 Western ALBEMARLE 39 No. 3 Goochland 30 NO. 4 Fluvanna County 26 NO. 5 WOODBERRY FOREST 24 NO. 6 Buckingham County 10 NO. 7 Orange 5 FIRST PLACE VOTES IN PARANTHESES ALSO RECEIVING VOTES: Fork Union, Albemarle, Blue Ridge, Covenant, Charlottesville

WALt g n i l b i Str Smash

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FLUVANNA COUNTY, SR. When you start a demolition project, to get things moving quickly, you can turn to the sledgehammer. Strong, powerful, big. It’s not always precise because, frankly, it usually doesn’t have to be. It’s irresistible force meets movable object. Fluvanna County’s Walt Stribling can smash defensive fronts. Stribling, who committed to East Carolina during the offseason, is a 6-foot-6, 305pound offensive tackle who was a big part of Fluvanna’s turnaround last year, helping Fluvanna turn into a formidable Wing-T power running team. The relic offense approach and a simplified defensive plan combined to put the Flucos in the playoffs for the first time in nearly 20 years while rushing for more than 2,400 yards in the regular season. “Our identity is going to help us a lot, we’re going to run it, we’re going smashmouth and teams are going to try and stop it,” Stribling said. Part of the reason that’ll be tough for opponents to do is because Stribling has taken the size he was blessed with and turned himself into an athletic force rather than just a big body. With his frame, that took a tremendous amount of effort. “It has taken a lot of work, just relentless training after practice,” Stribling said. “Those days where everyone else is chilling at home and you’re up early in the morning working on footwork and explosiveness.” That hard work helped put the Flucos in position to play when it matters and post their first winning season since 2001. But it also just raised the bar for 2019. “It put us in a bigger motivational mood to top that and prove to everyone that that wasn’t a fluke,” Stribling said. It’s time to take things to another level and that’s a process the Flucos are hoping gets a boost from their resident sledgehammer. ✖

Black Knights look to shake off ‘18 Charlottesville football endured one of the most star-crossed, snakebitten seasons in recent memory in 2018, suffering an incredible string of injuries and bad luck while stumbling to a 1-9 record despite another 1,000-yard season from four-year starter at tailback Sabias Folley. This year coach Eric Sherry, now the longesttenured coach in the Jefferson District in his ninth season at the helm, and his staff will have to revamp the offense in the wake of Folley heading to Fork Union for postgraduate football, and it’ll start with Isaiah Washington, one of those early season injuries that hamstrung the Black Knights a year ago. Washington’s injury was compounded by his role on defense, so it was like Charlottesville lost two key starters in one unkind swoop. Washington is a capable power back who can also get loose in open space — the kind of player that when healthy can be a four-down threat. If the Black Knights are able to open up the playbook a little and get some timing patterns going in the passing game with Tamarius Washington at quarterback, it’ll create chances for the ground game. The skill players like Isaiah and Tamarius Washington and newcomer Jabbari Jones will benefit from the return of Tijay

Richardson and Jaleom Adams-Mallory up front. The Black Knights have to adjust to Jaheim Tyler’s departure but center Devin Shifflett appears poised to give CHS another building block on the line at center. Defensively, Adams-Mallory is going to be critical to generating pressure on opposing quarterbacks and stuffing the ground game. He’ll get some help in that department from Marcus Targonski, a solid middle linebacker who could be a tackling machine as a senior. Ben Yates should also be a help in the front seven at linebacker and on the back end, Isaiah Washington will anchor the secondary. Latarius Jackson is perhaps the most reliable cover man at cornerback for the Black Knights and should offer an excellent option against the Jefferson District’s top pass-catching threats. Last season it came down to health for the Black Knights. They simply couldn’t keep their best players on the field night in and night out. Navigating the out-of-district schedule is no easy task either with E.C. Glass, James Monroe and Eastern View all on the schedule before September is over. If the Black Knights stay healthy though, we could see a quick return to the squads that won seven games in backto-back seasons in 2016 and 2017, and if everything comes together, perhaps a playoff berth. ✖

Flucos try to re-create last year’s start If there was a breakout star of the 2018 season, it was Fluvanna County under first year coach Mike Morris. The Flucos not only sent waves through the Jefferson District with a win over Powhatan on a Saturday in mid October that sent a message. But a brutal schedule late put Fluvanna up against a great Brookville team in the playoffs. The Flucos hung tough and put a scare in the Bees, but the team’s first winning season since 2001 ended in the first round of Region 3C. While the season ended in a four-game losing streak, the Flucos were in all of those games late with the exception of unbeaten Louisa. And while most will want to remember the 6-1 start to the year, we’ll make the argument that Fluvanna showed more in a good way in those four losses at the end than anything. Putting things back together isn’t going to be easy without Prophett Harris, Dametrez Christmas and Joey Vandyke to name a few. But, and this is the most important part — what Fluvanna established in 2018 was presence on the offensive and defensive line that had been missing. Skill position players have not been in short supply at Fluvanna over the years. Quality lineman have been the missing bit and in Walt Stribling, the Flucos have a massive mauler.

With Caleb Stoltz, Alden Custer and Trevor Wade also back, this unit is the identity of this year’s team and the part that came through to allow those playmakers from last year to be productive. Also an important piece in Palmyra is that Kobe Edmonds back at quarterback. With him, the Flucos have one of last year’s breakout stars. Keep an eye on freshman Jaden Ferguson in the backfield, but with Gabe Stoy and Tyler Stoy the Flucos have a pair of seniors to run the ball too. Defensively, Fluvanna will lean on those same aforementioned linemen. Scott Fulton and Luke Sheridan will provide depth there upfront. Malachi hill and Justin Sullivan lead the linebacking corps and have Nathan Mentor and Jason Hamshar as new additions. With Edmonds an option in the secondary, the Flucos can develop their young defensive backs. If Fluvanna got slept on last year, it won’t be the case this year. That cat is out of the bag. And the Flucos should be able get off to a good start with the toughest part of the schedule coming in mid-October again. It will be interesting to see how this group takes last year’s success, adversity and experience and builds upon it. ✖


Black Knights Jefferson district, 2018 record: 1-9 8/30 9/6 9/13 9/20 9/28 10/4 10/11 10/18 10/25 11/1

@ E.C. Glass vs. James Monroe @ Harrisonburg @ Eastern View vs. Louisa County @ Fluvanna County vs. Orange County @ Western Albemarle @ Monticello vs. Albemarle

Who’s Gone: Sabias Folley (rb), Jaheim Tyler (ol/dl) Who’s Back: Isaiah Washington (Rb/lb, pictured below), Marcus targonski (LB), Jaleom Adams-Mallory (dl/ol) Who’s New: Devin Shifflett (OL), Jabbari Jones (rb), Semaj Dennis (DL)

Fluvanna County

Flyin’ Flucos Jefferson district, 2018 record: 6-5 8/30 9/6 9/13 9/20 10/4 10/11 10/18 10/25 11/1 11/8

@ Broadway @ Spotsylvania vs. Nelson County vs. Waynesboro vs. Charlottesville vs. Western Albemarle @ Albemarle @ Louisa County @ Orange County vs. Monticello

Who’s Gone: Prophett Harris (RB/ DB), Dametrez Christmas (RB), Joey VanDyke (TE/DL) Who’s Back: Kobe Edmonds (QB/DB pictured below), Walt Stribling (ol/Dl), Caleb Stoltz (ol/dl), Alden Custer (ol/ dl), Trevor Wade (ol/dl) Who’s new: Jaden Ferguson (rb/WR/ db) :: 12


BullDogs JAmes River District, 2018 record: 14-1 8/30 9/13 9/20 9/27 10/4 10/11 10/25 11/1 11/8

@ @ vs. @ vs. @ vs. @ vs.

Lafayette Buckingham County Cumberland Randolph-Henry Amelia County Prince Edward Nottoway Central Lunenburg Bluestone

Who’s Gone: Sam Brooks (Lb), Jamal Carter (Ol), Tyler May (ol), Jacob Massey (Ol), Justin hawk (ol) Who’s Back: Quincey Snead (Rb/Db, pictured below), Devin McCray (qb/ db), Kindrick Braxton (lb), Connor Duncan (ol), Cj. Towles (Qb/Db) Who’s new: Anthony Holland (Lb)

Louisa County


Jefferson district, 2018 record: 11-1 8/30 9/6 9/13 9/27 10/4 10/11 10/19 10/25 11/1 11/8

@ Courtland vs. Chancellor vs. Massaponax @ Charlottesville vs. Orange County @ Monticello @ Kettle Run vs. Fluvanna County vs. Western Albemarle @ Albemarle

Who’s Gone: Brandon Smith (lb), Reggie Cosby (LB), Robbie Guinn (OL/DL) Who’s Back: Aaron Aponte (LB pictured below), Austin Sims (LB), Logan Yancey (OL/ DL), Jarrett Hunter (RB/DB), Noah Robinson (wr/db), Alex Washington (rb) Who’s new: Landon Wilson (QB), Qwenton Spellman (dL)

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Bulldogs building up front for 3A Goochland’s 2018 was nothing short of magical up until the last week of the year where injuries before and during the Class 2A championship proved costly. It’s easy to forget that the Bulldogs put together one of the best seasons we’ve seen in Central Virginia with an upset of an unbeaten East Rockingham on the road still standing as one of the great football games we’ve ever seen. Now the Bulldogs enter a different era in coach Alex Fruth’s second season. His transition last year was seamless. Now a great challenge rests ahead as Goochland moves to Class 3A. The last time that happened in 2009, the Bulldogs won the Jefferson District and a playoff game. So the bar is still high. The biggest obstacle for Goochland is in the trenches on both sides. The loss of Jacob Massey, Tyler May and Justin Hawk on the offensive line is tough. But this program has grown big gritty offensive linemen on trees somehow for the better part of two decades. When Devin McCray is healthy, this offense is dynamic. If he’s not healthy, more of the load falls to CJ Towles, who is also dynamic. Towles is installed at quarterback regardless and he got plenty of reps last year. He has a power runner in the backfield in

Connor Popielarz and a speedster in Quincy Snead. Throw in a healthy McCray and this is a deep backfield. Kam Holman returns as a deep threat when Goochland decides to throw. All in all, this offense can be what it was last year if returning lineman Connor Duncan can lead a young group around him. Defensively, Sam Brooks leaves a huge void as both a quiet leader and tackling machine. But a charismatic leader takes over now in Kindrick Braxton and his nose for the ball and athletcism gives this defense a great all-around playmaker. Khalil Holman will anchor the defensive line and with newcomer Anthony Holland at linebacker, the Bulldogs have a nice young core to rebuild this front seven. At any other program, rebuilding the trenches would mean a serious dip in wins. With Goochland’s reputation, the task might still be tall but it is doable. And if it happens on either side or both, there is so much talent at the skill positions that the Bulldogs can remake 2009. We’ve yet to see a losing season at Goochland since 2003. This team hasn’t lost a regular season game since 2015. Another unbeaten run in the regular season would be remarkable, and awfully tough, but its not out of the question. What lies after that is a different animal. ✖

Lions search for fourth-straight JD crown Make no mistake, the departure of Brandon Smith will be felt at Louisa County. The Jefferson District hasn’t seen a linebacker of his caliber in its entire history. But that is a poor reason to doubt the Lions. Not with the fleet of rock solid performers they’ve got back in the fold. Louisa returns six first team All-Jefferson District players and four more that earned second team or honorable mention nods. That group starts with Jarett Hunter, one of the craftiest, smartest and most versatile backs to line up for the Lions. Hunter is capable of playing quarterback where he’s been a force but he should be even more potent as a full-time running back alongside freshman quarterback Landon Wilson. The Lions can also hand the ball off to Alex Washington or Kalup Shelton, two backs capable of grinding it out or hitting a big play. They’ll run behind a line anchored by David Munoz and Griff Hollins with Logan Yancey, Hunter Atkinson and Matt Akers taking on critical roles. While the Lions will as usual rely on their identity as a ground and pound offense, Xavien “Buck” Hunter is a potentially dangerous threat at wideout and if Noah Robinson, an ODU commit, returns from an

injury, he can also stretch defenses and give Wilson a reliable option in the passing attack. Then there’s the matter of the Bash Brothers, dual tight ends/ linebackers Aaron Aponte and Austin Sims who are incredibly versatile pieces. They can block like linemen, catch like wideouts and tackle and cover like the All-District performers they are on defense. When healthy — Sims was banged up part of last year — they make for a formidable duo. Aponte and Sims will likely be the heart of the defense at linebacker along with Shelton. Adrain Williams and Derek Barbour lead a crowded group at end where freshmen Quentin Spellman and Elijah Brooks have also impressed in early scrimmage work. The secondary, if Robinson is in the mix, is state championship-caliber, with Washington, Jarett Hunter and Xavien Hunter all playing big roles. The Lions have two-straight undefeated regular seasons under their belt and a talented core group back looking to erase the memory of last year’s heartbreaking second round loss to Eastern View. It’s rare that a team with 25 wins over the last two seasons could be described as hungry, but that’s exactly what the Lions are in 2019. ✖

jarett hunter Slash

Louisa COUNTY, SR. Sure there have been bigger backs recently, though he isn’t small by any means at 5-foot-10, 187 pounds. But there haven’t been many backs in Central Virginia that can slash and dash like the incredibly versatile Jarett Hunter who rushed for more than 1,500 yards a year ago. When you’re trying to find a clear path, it usually takes a decisive, hard cut. A quick slash to clear the path and open up new space to run through. “It’s kind of a freelance style — it’s hit the hole and then make the right cut,” Hunter said. “You never really know what a defender is going to do. You get out there and read off of him.”

Hunter has played a variety of roles for the Lions. He’s an ideal single-wing quarterback, but Louisa has done everything it can to get him off the ball and in a spot where he can be dangerous as a ball-carrier, pass-catcher, blocker — whatever they need. With other weapons like Kalup Shelton and Alex Washington capable of carrying the ball too, Hunter’s dynamic, slashing style can make defenses forced to account for those other options pay dearly. Sometimes, they’ll pay dearly for leaving the slightest crease — perhaps a crease they couldn’t even see — open for Hunter to slash into. A tool is at its absolute best, when the one who wields it can see the end goal. Hunter doesn’t slash and burn to no end. Sometimes the path is a must have first down. Sometimes it’s a touchdown. He’s got the vision to see where that slash begins and where it ends and that’s what it takes to blaze a new trail. ✖ :: 14

Ma d i s o n Co u n t y

Mountaineers Bull run district, 2018 record: 3-7

9/6 9/13 9/20 9/27 10/4 10/11 10/18 10/25 11/1 11/8

vs. James River vs George Mason @ William Monroe @ Luray vs. Clarke County @ Stonewall Jackson vs. Strasburg @ Page County vs. Rappahannock @ East Rockingham

Who’s Gone: DALTON DODSON (LB), elijah Lewis (qb/DB), MATT LEWIS (RB/DB) Who’s Back: Jacob SacrA (OL/DL, pictured below), Gabe LEATHERS (ol/DL) Who’s new: IN DEVELOPMENT



Jefferson district, 2018 record: 2-8 8/30 9/6 9/13 9/20 9/27 10/4 10/11 10/18 10/25 11/8

vs. Spotsylvania @ Culpeper vs. Turner Ashby @ Spotswood vs. Western Albemarle @ Albemarle vs. Louisa County @ Orange County vs. Charlottesville @ Fluvanna County

Who’s Gone: Devonta Hargrove (DL), Trenton Johnson (WR) Who’s Back: Malachi Fields (qb/DB, Pictured Below), Trent Lloyd (OL/DL), Aiden Byrnes (Ol/LB), Tayshaun Minor (ol/dl) Who’s new: Buddy Wilson (RB/lb), Mitch Gunnerson (rb/DB), Selorm Kartey (RB/DB)

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Mountaineers begin to rebuild For a proud Madison County football program, the losing seasons have been stacking up at a rate the Mountaineers aren’t accustomed to enduring. Outside of a 6-6 campaign in 2016 that included a second round playoff loss, Madison’s last winning season came in 2010. New head coach Jon Rasnick aims to remedy that issue and put the Mountaineers back in position to challenge for Bull Run district titles and more. The Orange County grad and former collegiate assistant at Glenville State (famous as a birthplace for former West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez’ version of the uptempo spread), who was most recently on the Hornets’ staff under head coach Jesse Lohr, is building from the ground up. He put together an impressive staff and then went to work applying what he’s learned from his time in the college ranks. That starts with borrowing UVa’s Bronco Mendenhall’s earn-your-number approach to preseason workouts. Student athletes have to meet certain criteria to earn that number, to earn the right to play. That’s part of focusing on the little details. Jacob Sacra is one of the few players to earn their number

early in camp as the sophomore lineman with a Liberty offer already to his name stepping up into a leadership role. A lot of players will go both ways for the Mountaineers and Sacra is no exception, he’ll be a part of the gameplan as a blocker and run-stuffer. He’ll get help up front from another lineman who has been helping fill the leadership void, senior Gabe Leathers. Leathers and Sacra both fit what Rasnick, a former lineman, is looking for from the guys in the trenches — he wants the team built from that position group on up. The Mountaineers are starting to get some of the culture elements Rasnick and his staff are looking for, cheering big plays in practice, staying behind the ball to keep the pace where Madison wants. If the Mountaineers can grasp those concepts, Rasnick could be the catalyst for a resurrection. But Rasnick himself knows his sheer force of will won’t be enough, it’ll take players like Sacra and Leathers who buy-in, who want to be the voice of the program themselves. When it’s those players everyone is talking about and hearing from and not Rasnick because they’ve set an example, that’s when the tide will turn. ✖

Mustangs inch closer to turnaround It’s a small number of data points for sure, but based on the last four years, Monticello is clearly due for a bounce back season. The Mustangs have fluctuated pretty wildly over that span, from 8-4 to 3-7 to 9-3 and finally 2-8 last year under head coach Jeff Lloyd. This year, with Malachi Fields back at quarterback with a year of varsity experience under his belt, there’s good reason to think that the Mustangs can get things headed in the right direction. Fields threw for 1,143 yards and 12 touchdowns a year ago while rushing for 540 and 10 touchdowns. That’s a lot of offense for a sophomore and if he takes his game up a notch, that’s going to fuel the entire Mustangs’ offense. With Trenton Johnson gone, the Mustangs will turn to a trio of junior receivers in Tony Frazier, Will Trent and Phillip Estes as playmakers while lacrosse standout Buddy Wilson, Mitch Gunnerson and Selorm Kartey, a freshman, will try and give Fields some support at running back. The Mustangs are thin on seniors with just six on the roster, but they’ve got three in the trenches where Aiden Byrnes steps in at center and Sam Oldham should fill a role while Trent Lloyd again looks to overcome a string of brutal shoulder injuries that have

limited him to just 10 games the last two years. If he’s healthy, he’ll be a difference maker up front along with junior Tayshaun Minor who earned an All-District spot a year ago and will be trusted to protect Fields’ blind side. Cutting down on turnovers could allow the Mustangs to capitalize on having one of the area’s top kickers back in the fold in Jack Culbreath. That would go a long way toward helping the offense get on track. The defense also has work to do after surrendering nearly 32 points a game a year ago. Replacing Devonta Hargrove’s disruptive presence isn’t going to be easy. Byrnes should fill a key spot at linebacker. Minor has the potential to be a force at defensive end along with Oldham and Giacomo Wilson as options up front. Estes and Wilson could step in at outside linebacker. There’s a lot of athleticism in the secondary where Frazier is at strong safety and Fields could slot in at free safety. Trent, the Class 3 state champion in the 400 meters, could also play a big role there while Gunnerson and Kartey are also potential solutions. There’s work to be done but recent history and an experienced quarterback are two reasons to think the Mustangs could be in for a much-improved performance. ✖

jaylen r e d n a x ale chop

Orange COUNTY, SR. It’s not with just one. Jaylen Alexander doesn’t beat you with a single blow. Alexander chops away at the opposition, splitting the defense with blow after brutal blow before everything comes apart and he’s bulling his way into the endzone. As the old axiom goes, it’s not the lost blow that does the damage, it’s the ones that come before it. Like a great boxer, Alexander unleashes body blow after body blow, wearing down the other boxer before dropping him with a haymaker. Alexander tests your fiber, he tests your will to try and keep stopping him, carrying the ball nearly 20 times per game. Alexander is a complete football player though, he’s not just a runner. “I try to do a little bit of everything, route-running, blocking whatever it takes,” Alexander said. That’s part of the issue with trying to defend Alexander and the Hornets more broadly — there are a number of playmakers roaming the field, from Jireek Washington to Chance Williams and Alexander himself. Load up on Alexander and some of the other playmakers can make you play. That didn’t happen often enough a year ago and Orange stumbled to a 2-8 record. This year is in part about rectifying that campaign that was marred by close losses and injuries and that starts with the Hornets sticking together. “We’ve been trying to stay connected as a team and make sure everything click,” Alexander said. If the Hornets can stick together and find other pieces of the offense that can produce, that’s only going to keep sharpening the axe, preventing opposing defenses from loading up the box to try and prevent Alexander from doing his particular brand of damage. Alexander is going to break most defenses, it’s just a matter of time and relentlessness. He’s been churning out production and yards for years, now he gets one more shot to try and lead the Hornets to a turnaround season, one blow at a time. ✖

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Nelson County

Governors Dogwood District, 2018 record: 2-7

8/30 9/6 9/13 9/20 9/27 10/4 10/11 10/18 10/25 11/8

@ Randolph-Henry vs. Page County @ Fluvanna County @ Rappahannock @ Altavista vs. Gretna @ Dan River vs. Chatham @ William Campbell vs. Appomattox

Who’s Gone: Damien Jacques (Te/DL), Who’s Back: brice wilson (qb/dB, pictured below), George Brown (qb), James Johnson (Ol/LB), Cole Koschara (Db), Brandon Jamerson (DL) Who’s new: Alex Duvolli (DL)

Orange County


Jefferson district, 2018 record: 2-8 8/30 9/6 9/13 9/20 9/27 10/4 10/11 10/18 11/1 11/8

@ @ vs. vs. vs. @ @ vs. vs. @

King George North Stafford Eastern View Courtland Albemarle Louisa County Charlottesville Monticello Fluvanna County Western Albemarle

Who’s Gone: Chris Washington (WR/ db/k), Kyrie Carter (lb) Who’s Back: Jireek Washington (wr/ DB, pictured below), Jaylen Alexander (RB/LB), Colby McGhee (ol), Chance Williams (te/lb), Hylton Hale (DB) Who’s new: Donald Brooks (db)

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Govenors jump back into Dogwood Nelson County football is about to emerge from self-imposed exile in 2019 and the Governors appear to be as deep and prepared as they have been in the Matt Hicks era. For the last two seasons, Nelson has been playing an independent schedule, trying to find a rhythm as a program while not facing the Dogwood District gauntlet. Last season the Governors managed a 3-7 record against the independent slate and suffered two particularly close losses to Page and Madison County. There’s reason to believe that Nelson could improve on that record despite the move back into the Dogwood because they’ve got several key offensive playmakers back in the fold. That group starts with junior quarterback George Brown and senior wideout Brice Wilson. Brown expanded his game a year ago from being a strictly run-oriented signal caller to a legitimate threat to throw. The lefthander is tall, rangy and has grown by leaps and bounds over the last two years while also expanding his role as a leader. It helps of course that he’s had Wilson, who used to be a quarterback, converting into a multi-faceted playmaker in the slot. Wilson gives the Governors an experienced hand in the passing game and

should be a regular target for Brown. Aveon Tabb has the potential to be another threat at wide receiver as does Houston Carter, a standout basketball player who showed flashes of potential as a deep threat in 7v7 work this summer. Felix Rodriguez should give the Governors a power running back to give the offense a rhythm and counterweight to Brown’s dynamic playmaking ability. James Johnson anchors the offensive line after returning to the field following an injury in a farming accident a year ago and he’ll be a big part of what the Governors do defensively too as a middle linebacker along with Rodriguez. They’ll likely need to flow to the ball and fight through blocks in the ground game while Nelson tries to replace the pressure on the quarterback generated last year by Damien Jacques. Look for Brandon Jamerson and Brycen Ramsey to play a role in that at defensive end. Tabb should be a solid option at linebacker as well while Cole Koschara, Robert Morris and Wilson will take on critical spots in the secondary. Nelson has a tough road ahead with its return to the Dogwood, but there are winnable games early and building momentum will be crucial before business picks up in the district. ✖

Hornets look to get on track Maybe some coaches would pick a talented, experienced quarterback as the ideal first building block for a high school team, but a rugged, fast and productive senior running back who can double as an impact defensive player on the edge is a pretty fantastic place to start. Jaylen Alexander gives the Hornets exactly that kind of foundational piece. With Alexander in his senior year, Orange seems primed to reverse last year’s frustrating results and return to the region playoffs after a one-year absence. That’ll start with Alexander, the 210-pound all-purpose back who is also capable of disrupting offenses as an outside linebacker. He rushed for 1,389 yards as a junior at a clip of 7.4 yards per carry. If he can find similar productivity and the offense gets into rhythm in the passing game, the offense should be able to perform better than their uncharacteristic 17.0 points per game last season. Finding that rhythm starts with finding someone to get the ball into dynamic wideout Jireek Washington and 6-foot-5 tight end Chance Williams’ hands. If Walker Johnson can take a step forward as a signalcaller it’ll go a long way toward getting Orange going.

He showed flashes of promise last season, but turnovers plagued the Hornets. They’ll get a lift from 225-pound Noah Carey potentially as a power back as well as a seasoned offensive line. That group is led second team All-JD pick Colby McGhee, Justyn Staples, Jacob Mathews and Ricardo Flores-Umana. On defense, the secondary and linebackers should be a strength with Carey holding down one middle linebacker spot while Williams and Alexander wreak havoc from the edge. The secondary includes Washington, Donald Brooks and Hylton Hale. Hale and Washington are particularly experienced presences with Hale making 57.5 tackles last year. Flores is a big part of the defensive line and that group will have to occupy space and linemen to free up the array of linebackers roaming just behind them. The Hornets were at 2-2 to start the season a year ago before two straight close losses to Fluvanna and Albemarle and a spate of injuries took the campaign off the rails. If the Hornets can survive a brutal early schedule that includes North Stafford, Eastern View and Courtland in September, they’ve got a window to compete at the top of the JD. ✖

Warriors channeling ‘18 momentum Western Albemarle football got into the kind of midseason groove last year a lot of programs are searching for, as they reeled off six-straight wins before falling in the second round of the region playoffs to Liberty Bedford. With the Warriors flipping the script on a 2-8 campaign in 2017 to go 9-3 with an almost entirely underclassmen group of offensive playmakers was impressive. Now the Warriors’ coaching staff’s task on offense is almost a polar opposite — find a group of linemen that can clear the way for that nowseasoned group of skill players led by Austin Shifflett who rushed for more than 1,700 yards a year ago. Shifflett is a patient, knifing runner with a cross country runner’s endurance who can make the opposition pay in the fourth quarter. He’s joined in the backfield by Carter Shifflett, who improved drastically the season and is deadly on the bootleg in part because opposing defenses have to respect the backs. The Warriors are also poised to help Shiflett share the load with the emergence of freshman John Buetow, who could join both Shiffletts in a loaded backfield that would feature three capable, hard-nosed ball carriers. Load up against the run and Breaker Mendenhall can make you pay. A tall threat on the boundary, Men-

denhall grew by leaps and bounds last year and over the offseason and should give Carter Shiflett a reliable option. Tea Atuaia, Garrett Livermon, Will Mitchell and Garland Freeauf will also be in the mix at wideout. Ben Life is the lone returning starter on the offensive line, but Xander Smith, Ty Awkard and McKel Brumfield will step into the fold to lead the way in the trenches. Defensively, Jack Lesemann will be missed at linebacker as will nine other senior starters from 2018, but senior Josh Haws is back at linebacker and joins Buetow who has the potential to be a force for years to come in the middle. Livermon is a rangy, tough outside linebacker and Carson Tujague and Will Mitchell should also be a factor on the edge. Brumfield, Awkward, Smith Callaghan and Cameron Green will likely form the defensive line, while Carter Shifflett, Mendenhall and Atuai will step in to the secondary. Ellie Smart appears could handle kicking duties. Some of head coach Ed Redmond’s best teams during his career have been marked by youth, hunger and energy. This year’s edition of the Warriors fits the mold. By the end of the year, the Warriors should find themselves back in the playoff mix and competing for a district title. ✖

Dragons look to establish identity For the second straight season, William Monroe just couldn’t quite catch that break that good teams need. The Dragons were consistently competitive just like they were in 2017, but losing the close game was unfortunate and repetitive theme for a talented group of playmakers. The challenge in 2019 is replacing some key talent on offense. The Dragons toyed with spread looks given their speed on the edge of the field but in his second year as offensive coordinator, Monroe alumnus Mitchell Morris is reverting back to more of a smash mouth, downhill running game to better fit the roster. For starters, Jared Knight takes over for Kinsey at quarterback. It’ll be up to Dupree Rucker and Brandon MacDonald to tote the load at running back, but look for Phillip Shifflett at fullback to pack a punch too. Upfront, Monroe will lean on returning linemen Sam Hess, Jack Gareis and Tommy Walcutt to initiate the charge. Tight end Evan Wagner gives the Dragons a solid blocker up front and a safety net in the passing game for Knights. The Dragons will have to look to newcomers at the wide receiver position after deep threat

Jaekwon Wayne’s departure. On the other side of the ball, things are a little more calm and familiar. This unit should nicely fit the power running offense on the other side of the ball. The Dragons have a pair of All-Northwest Region defenders back in the mix with linebacker Xzabia Kolpack and safety Kaiden Pritchett. On the defensive line, both Tyler Totten and Dave Mack are back to give the Dragons a strong core to build depth around. William Rupe offers Monroe another strong tackler at linebacker and Jeremy Savoie some depth for a young secondary. On the special teams front, Monroe has Will Auer returning as the team’s kicker after an AllRegion showing in 2018. It’s a bit of a changing of the guard for the Dragons this year, both in terms of primary playmakers and style, but maybe that’s exactly what this current crop of players need. The schedule is tough, particularly out of district with Clarke County and Western Albemarle. But if the Dragons can execute what they have planned they might be able to get back to the winning formula they last had back in 2016. ✖

Western Albemarle


jefferson district, 2018 record: 9-3 9/6 9/13 9/20 9/27 10/4 10/11 10/18 10/25 11/1 11/8

@ Turner Ashby vs. Spotswood @ Waynesboro @ Monticello vs. William Monroe @ Fluvanna County vs. Charlottesville vs. Albemarle @ Louisa County vs. Orange County

Who’s Gone: Jack Lesemann (Lb), Sayer Brown (OL), Bronson Brown (DL), Jack Wyher (Wr/db) Who’s Back: Carter Shifflett (qb/ Db, pictured below), Austin Shifflett (RB), Ben Life (Ol), Josh haws (LB), Breaker Mendenhall (Wr) Who’s New: John Buetow (rb/LB), McKel Brumfield (ol/dl)

Monroe W William M Greene Dragons bull run district, 2018 record: 3-7 8/30 9/6 9/13 9/20 10/4 10/11 10/18 10/25 11/1 11/8

vs. Turner Ashby @ Spotswood vs. Clarke County vs. Madison County @ Western Albemarle vs. Brentsville @ Skyline @ Warren County vs. George Mason @ Central Woodstock

Who’s Gone: Alex Kinsey (qb/DB), Zach Miller (rb/lb), Sal Coyle (wr/db) Who’s Back: Kaiden Pritchett (db, pictured below), Dupree rucker (RB), sam Hess (ol/dl), Dave Mack (dl), Tyler Totten (Dl), Jack Gareis (ol), Tommy Wolcutt (ol), xzabia Kolpack (lb), Will Auer (k) Who’s New: Jared Knights (qb) :: 18

Austin t t e l f f shi Split

19 :: @scrimmageplay

Western Albemarle, jr. The JUNIOR is so patient. He’s methodical. And then he explodes. Like a crowbar, Western Albemarle running back Austin Shifflett showed an incredible knack for prying open defenses a year ago while rushing for more than 1,700 yards, rarely dashing too quickly into the hole or picking the early, less productive crease. Instead he waited and found the play’s best outcome, trusting a senior-laden offensive line to make the right combination of blocks to allow him to split the defense five or six yards or 50 yards or 60 yards. Sometimes a jackhammer isn’t the right tool for the job, sometimes you’ve got to be patient, you’ve got to find the right spot near a rusty nail and apply just the right amount of pressure to find a board or a defense’s weak point. “Eventually I got it into my head to just be patient with the ball and just shoot the hole when it’s there,” Shifflett said. “Everyone knows what we’re going to do, we’ve bought into that process of just run the ball, run the ball, run the ball and throw down a pass and that worked really well for us.” This year, Shifflett will carry the load behind a rebuilt line and he’ll reunite with fellow junior Carter Shifflett, Western’s quarterback. Austin and Carter are completely in sync timing-wise after spending so much time together in the backfield. Shifflett will also join forces with freshman John Buetow, an explosive, strong runner who defenses will have to account for. Loading up against Shifflett won’t be an option if Buetow is also in the formation, and that could make the powerful, one-cut and go style Shifflett improves that much more dangerous. Perhaps there will be fewer defenders to outrun after that one, decisive cut. If Shifflett finds even more open space this year, that’ll be disastrous for Western’s opponents. And that’s exactly what the Warriors seem to be counting on. ✖

Blue Ridge

Barons look for return to glory


Much of Blue Ridge’s struggle in 2018 was simply finding appropriate opponents to play after a slew of VISAA Division 2 programs bolted and started up the 8-man VISFL. The Barons, who were undergoing some rebuilding already, suddenly found themselves lining up against the bigger Division 1 programs like Benedictine and Bishop O’Connell. The dust has settled on that front for the Barons and their 2019 slate looks a lot more like the kind of schedule a Division 2 program should have. That’s good news for head coach Jimmy Wills in his second year and he gets some help with former coach Tim Thomas back on staff as a defensive coordinator. The Barons will look quite different on the field offensively as both quarterback Xavier Kane and running back Sammy Fort are gone and their production will be missed. Newcomer Kenyon Carter is poised to take over at quarterback. He has a pair of quality receivers to work with in Iceysis Lewis and Maliq Brown, both of whom had standout years at the position. Tanner Rocha is a newcomer at running back and will be key to helping the Barons establish the proper balance on offense along with fellow back Cameron Kewley. Jack Dickey and Tramell Thompson both had strong seasons in 2018 on the

9/6 9/14 9/21 9/27 10/4 10/11 10/19 10/26 11/2

offensive line and are back in their roles. The addition of Isaiah McNeal should help offer some depth on the line as well. On the other side of the ball, things look pretty good for a team that doesn’t get a lot of time in practice to prepare for its first opponent. The Barons have an excellent pass rusher in Andy Nwaoko who sports an athletic frame at 6-foot-5. Kewley and Thompson anchor the linebacking corps and should get some help from Lance Gaskins. As is usually the case in St. George, the Barons are particularly talented in the defensive backfield with Lewis, Brown and Carter offering senior experience and great athleticism to help bring along Rocha who will roam back there with them. The Barons have some explosive pieces to work with here, particularly in the passing game. Should they get the proper protection for Carter to work downfield to Lewis and Brown, this will be an awfully fun team to watch. But the key will be staying healthy and maintaining depth on the offensive and defensive lines. Blue Ridge can easily improve upon its win total from 2018 and if things blend well on offense, this team could easily be a serious competitor back in the Division 2 playoffs. ✖

Eagles begin state title defense A few injuries here and there aside, it’s hard to imagine Covenant’s foray into the 8-man VISFL going any better. The Eagles finished 10-0 and did so in convincing fashion. With a blend of physicality and skill, Covenant simply overmatched their opponents in one department or the other, or more often, in both. There’s no question that the class of 2019 leaves a huge void — with running back and defensive lineman Rick Weaver leading the charge on both sides of the ball. But there are a lot of other changes. With Luke Sorenson gone, there’s a new need at quarterback. Wes Arrington, Riley Willetts and Connor Poindexter were versatile role players on both side of the ball. And yet, what the Eagles return still outweighs the loss. Coach Seth Wilson believes Jonas Sanker is the best football player in the state and he has just cause to believe so. He’s been playing at the varsity level since eighth grade and has been electric ever since. He now takes over at quarterback and while his legs are bound to be the feature, Wilson is particularly excited about his ability and smarts as a passer. Joining him in the

backfield are Alex Vangelopoulos and Cole Finley. They should see a huge upswing in carries with the former also able to play on the line. In Jack Meaney, the Eagles have a solid tight end and then Nick Sanker has been a reliable game breaking receiver his entire career at Covenant. The addition of Michael Asher only adds depth to the receiving corps. With the offensive line under going the biggest readjustment, the Eagles will look to Nathan Weaver to help lead the charge. On the other side of the ball, Nick Sanker is as good of an edge rusher as you’ll find in the VISFL and he’ll be counting on Weaver to help cog up the middle. Jonas Sanker in the secondary is a ballhawking problem and he’s joined by newcomers Cole Finley, Lorenzo Allorto and Asher. At the end of the day what Covenant has is options on both sides of the ball schematically. The versatility that the Sanker brothers provide on both of those sides combined with their leadership abilities and football IQs makes the Eagles a complex problem to try and solve. This team’s success will largely be linked to its health because everything else it needs to do well is in place. ✖

Old Dominion, 2018 record: 3-6 @ vs. vs. @ @ @ vs. vs. vs.

Hargrave Fishburne Christchurch North Cross Northfolk Christian Atlantic Shores Roanoke Catholic Randolph-Macon Benedictine

Who’s Gone: Xavier Kane (qb/DB), Sammy Fort (rb/lb) Who’s Back: Jack Dickey (Ol/dL), Iceysis lewis (wr/Db), Maliq Brown (wr/DB), Andy Nwaoko (Dl), Tramell Thompson (Ol/lb), Cameron Kewley (rb/LB) Who’s new: Kenyon Carter (qb/DB), Lance Gaskins (wr/lb), Isaiah McNeal (ol/dl), tanner rocha (rb/db)



Virginia Independent, 2018 record: 10-0 9/13 9/20 9/27 10/4 10/12 10/18 10/26

@ Kenston Forest @ Hampton Roads vs. Brunswick Academy vs. South Hampton vs. Virginia Episcopal @ St. Anne’s-Belfield @ Greenbrier Christian

Who’s Gone: Ricker Weaver (RB/DL), Luke Sorenson (Qb), Riley Willetts (ol/DL), Wes Arrington (wr/DB) Who’s Back: Nic sanker (WR/dL, pictured below), Jonas Sanker (Qb/Db), Jack Meaney (Te/DL/LB), Alex Vangelopoulos (Ol/RB/DL) Who’s new: Nathan Weaver (Dl/OL), Michael Asher (Wr/DB) :: 20

iceysis lewis bury

21 :: @scrimmageplay

Blue Ridge, Sr. Every team always wants the player who can just put a team away. The big-play threat with the kind of speed, mobility and power to bury an opponent, to make sure they stay buried and don’t come roaring back. Blue Ridge’s Iceysis Lewis is that kind of electric playmaker. The Barons can use the senior wideout in a variety of different ways — slip screens, crossing routes, downfield — and Lewis regularly delivers. He became a regular target for former Barons quarterback Xavier Kane and with Kane and Sammy Fort’s graduation, the Barons are likely to need Lewis to expand his big play ability and unleash it more often. “I always try and make the big play to get the team going,” Lewis said. “It gets your team motivated and it gets you going and then you know you’re getting the win.” Lewis isn’t just a big-play threat and pass catcher. He’s shown flashes of being a ferocious downfield blocker, helping turn 10 yard runs into 30 yard runs. That makes Lewis a formidable weapon with an expanded role likely coming this year. But he’ll have some help coming too. “We’ve got some new people coming to take their spot and show what they’ve got and I think we’re going to surprise people,” Lewis said. That element of surprise matters — sometimes surprise is how you come up with the big play. Sometimes surprise is how you bury opponents. ✖

Fork Union

Blue Devils tap Shuman in new era

Blue Devils

It was just 10 years ago that Mark Shuman was a senior lineman at Fork Union before heading off to play at Virginia Tech. Since his graduation, Shuman has returned home, worked as an assistant and now he’s running the show for the Blue Devils. You don’t have to spend a lot of time at FUMA practice to see what Shuman wants from his team — to matter in the trenches, to be physical, to have great footwork and technique. What Fork Union brings back fits right into that. Nick Lampro is an intense personality with the kind of attitude you want as an offensive lineman and Myles Brickhouse is disruptive, athletic and leader by example at on the defensive line. With Elijah Hawks, Xavier White and some newcomers With Lampro upfront leading the way on the line, the Blue Devils look to versatile in their run blocking and pass protection. Abraham Ulrich and Calvin Graves back on the line as well, FUMA has experience to build on. In the backfield the Blue Devils have the explosive V’Jon Hampton, a tested fullback in Freddie Sposato and Cory Frazier, a versatile fullback and tight end. Alex Williams is new at quarterback as is Montigo Moss at receiver. With Hawks also returning at receiver, the Blue Devils are particularly excited about

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their explosiveness on the edge of the field. Defensively, Brickhouse sets the tone upfront and will be joined on the line by Lampro. The linebacking corps is mostly back too between Xavier White, Frazier and Sposato. In the secondary, the additions of Nassir Edmon and Steve Zegbe will go along way to help Hawks anchor that unit. The Blue Devils have a lot to figure out on offense, but plan on being multi-dimensional with their experience on the line allowing for that and then obviously their speed at the skill positions necessitating some spread looks to accompany a power running game. With an experienced defensive unit on the other side, there’s plenty for Shuman to build around. Fork Union doesn’t have an easy game on its schedule and so while rebuilding the Blue Devils back into the program that Shuman grew up in will be an uphill climb, there’s no question this team will be better for having gone up against quality programs. Not many football programs deal with the kind of turnover that the FUMA does, making it an annual wild card as a dark horse. If this team develops a consistent offense, there’s no reason the Blue Devils can’t make some noise in the Prep League this season. ✖

Saints regroup to make noise St. Anne’s-Belfield football had a solid year in its full-time transition to 8-man football. After dipping their toe in the 8-man water back in 2017 — and learning some clearly valuable lessons — the Saints went 7-4 on the year and fell in the VISFL championship game to Covenant. With several key players up the middle back in the mix, the Saints are poised to put together another strong campaign and, perhaps, take a shot at dethroning the Eagles. The Saints’ strong middle starts with linebackers Joe Ambrosi and Gabe Decker. The tandem has become entrenched at the heart of the STAB defense and give the STAB staff an obvious place to start in rebuilding a defense that graduated key players in matchup nightmare in the trenches Will Edelson and linebacker Thomas Harry. Ambrosi and Decker are both sure tacklers and solid pass defenders, capable of handling what the opposition throws at them. They also have the distinct advantage of having Chase Holden and Luke Antesberger in front of them occupying space and creating opportunities for the linebackers to read and react. Offensively, Holden and Antesberger will clear the

way for Amani Woods and Decker, a potent lightning and thunder combination that gave opponents a lot of problems a year ago. While Harry’s efforts at quarterback will be missed, standout athlete Nic Reese from STAB’s basketball team, Nolan Bruton and Pierre Reeves are all solid options at quarterback and will both likely do some double duty in the secondary. They’ll have some developing options as pass catchers in Elijah Johnson, a serious threat at tight end, a spot long-time STAB coach John Blake loves to use in a variety of ways and wideout Jackson Harry. The season opens with Faith Christian and then a string of squads the Saints beat a season ago before they host Covenant in mid-October in a game that’ll likely have big VISFL implications. In four losses last season, the Saints only fell to state champions -- Faith Christian who won the 8-man title in North Carolina and Covenant three times. The Saints can live with the Faith Christian loss, but falling to the crosstown Eagles isn’t something STAB football is particularly accustomed to enduring. Look for the Saints to play 2019 with a chip on their collective shoulder. With solid pieces back in the mix, they should be ready. ✖

PREP LEAGUE, 2018 record: 2-8 @ Bishop O’Connell vs. Benedictine @ St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes @ Norfolk Academy vs. St. Christopher’s vs. Trinity Episcopal vs. Collegiate @ St. John Paul the Great @ Woodberry Forest

Who’s Gone: Larry elder (wr/db), Will Stupalsky (Wr/DB/K), Luke Wilson (qb) Who’s Back: Elijah Hawkes (wr/dB, Pictured Below), Myles Brickhouse (Dl/RB), Nick Lampro (ol/DL), V’Jon Hampton (RB/DB) Who’s new: Montigo Moss (wr), Alex Williams (qb), Steve zegbe (wr/db)

St. Anne ’s -Belfield


Virginia Independent, 2018 record: 7-4 8/30 9/6 9/13 9/20 9/27 10/5 10/18 10/25

vs. Faith Christian @ Brunswick vs. Greenbrier Christian @ South Hampton vs. Hampton Roads Academy @ Virginia Episcopal vs. Covenant @ Kenston Forest

Who’s Gone: Will Edelson (ol/dl), Thomas Harry (qb/lb) Who’s Back: Amani Woods (rb, pictured below), Joe Ambrosi (lb), Gabe Decker (rb/lb), Elijah Johnson (te), Chase Holden (ol/dl), Luke Antesberger (ol/dl) Who’s new: Pierre Reeves (qb/db), Nic Reese (Qb/db) :: 22

Woodberry Forest


Prep League, 2018 record: 5-3 8/31 9/7 9/14 9/27 10/4 10/19 10/26 11/1 11/9

@ Georgetown Prep vs. Bishop Sullivan vs. St. Christopher’s @ Landon @ Collegiate @ Benedictine vs. Trinity Episcopal vs. Fork Union @ Episcopal

Who’s Gone: Dequece Carter (wr/db), Kyle Bilodeau (Te/DE), John Harris (Dl), Bill Clark (DL) Who’s Back: , Ben Locklear (QB, pictured below), Caleb Hodges (Wr/DB), Mathieu Masse-Pelletier (DB), Jianni Brooks (LB), Peter Hutchinson (wr) Who’s new: Donovan Baker (Wr)

Tigers prepare to defend Prep title Woodberry Forest showed quite a lot in another year that saw a lot of retooling on both sides of the ball. This past fall was coach Scott Braswell’s first year running his offense to ease the transition in 2017, he kept as much as possible from the regime before him in place. With sophomore quarterback Ben Locklear taking over first time starting duties at QB, the Tigers showed they have someone special pulling the trigger. The Tigers started slow in 2018 but won four of their last five to finish the regular season stong. That came with a Prep League Championship as they went 4-0 in league play to put together what has been the standard at Woodberry for the better part of just over a decade — meaning nine clean sweeps in 11 years. The Tigers did so with a lot of unsung line play upfront on both sides of the ball and then of course, a lot of deep balls thrown to Dequece Carter, who broke a 12 year-old record to become the All-time leader in Central Virginia career receiving yards. With Carter gone as well as big tight end Kyle Bilodeau, Braswell and Locklear will look to take the next step offensively as a mostly young line returns

led by Peter Hutchinson and Oz Servellon. The addition of Donovan Baker should help keep the passing game prominent. Caleb Hodges could also be a factor too. The Tigers will need to establish the run and with Rhys Logan they have strong start there. But in the end, Locklear’s arm and legs when necessary remain central to big plays and/or moving the chains. On the other side of the ball, the defensive line has a lot of work to do after a group of yeomen move on. But after that, some great pieces of a solid defense return. Mathieu Masse-Pelletier is the kind of nard-nosed rover that changes a defense in the secondary. Jiani Brooks is back leading the linebacking corps that needs to find a replacement for Logan Bowers who was a menace off the edge. Hodges gives the Tigers a cover corner that’s essential in a mostly pass happy Prep League. All together, this is Braswell’s first real class of athletes accustomed to his style, his scheme. Given his staff underneath which also knows how to adapt, the Tigers are ready to move forward with yet another Prep League Championship caliber roster. That and a win over Episcopal is the goal. Year in. Year out. ✖

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Back on the pitch

Eagles lead talented field, hockey welcomes new program By Bart Isley


Covenant’s Abi Shim leads a deep Eagles squad with scoring talent. (Bart Isley)

{ Biscuit, basket } Covenant’s top returning scorers in points (goals + assists) for 2019.

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7 Claire Mccartney K ar a Elder

15 Ashley Ball ard

21 Teagan Murrie

Abi Shim


ovenant’s field hockey team is accustomed to competing for a state title. Since making the final four in 2015, the Eagles won the state in 2016, fell in the championship game in 2017 and fell in the state semifinals a year ago to eventual champion Cape Henry.

Along that path, the Eagles have adopted a moniker — small but mighty. The Eagles may not have a lot of reserves, they may be forced to adapt practice to fit a smaller than normal roster, but they’re going to be ready to play day in and day out. This year’s edition of the Eagles is led by three of last year’s top four scorers, sophomore Abi Shim, junior Teagan Murrie and senior Ashley Ballard. That trio will likely be counted on to provide even more scoring punch after the squad has graduated a strong wave of talent the last two years including Lizzy Shim, Megan McGlothlin, Melissa McGlothlin and Ivy Allen, four Division I field hockey players. Abi Shim led the Eagles with 26 points a year ago with seven goals and 12 assists. Murrie was also a force with eight goals and five assists while Ballard notched seven goals on the year. If that trio returns to form and Ballard’s fellow captains Claire McCartney and Jenna DiGirolamo can provide leadership, the Eagles will have a solid core to build around. Throw in keeper Erin Flynn as the backstop and Covenant could find itself in a familiar position in November, back in the state tournament mix. St. Anne’s-Belfield’s field hockey squad is coming off a season where the Saints earned the No. 5-seed in the Division I state tournament, but the Saints will have to rebuild with the graduation of keeper Santia McLaughlin and their key players up the middle, Cat Carden, Cat Paphites and Katie Define. The Saints will lean on seniors Claire Schotta, Allie Edmonds and Kate Pausic and junior Leah Bartholomew. STAB will also add in sophomore Tily Matheson and freshman

Ellen Bartholomew, giving them an added charge to help replace those key departures. On the public school side, Fluvanna County’s addition of field hockey will be one of the most interesting storylines to keep an eye on as the Flucos become the final Jefferson District squad to add the sport. But competing with the district’s upper echelon is likely a few years away. Meanwhile, Albemarle has to replace Kelsey Myers and Anna Murray while getting a lift from Morgan Coleman stepping back in at goalie along with defenders Caitlyn Sanford and Liz Yow anchoring the back line. Kristen Hughlett and Sydney Sneaer are back and midfield while Hughlett’s sisters Caroline Hughlett and Courtney Hughlett join the varsity at forward and midfield respectively. Kaley Maynard and Hannah Rodgers are poised to play key roles on defense while Jordyn Solak is set to emerge as a scoring threat at forward. Western Albemarle’s squad brings some key seniors back on defense, where Lena Egl, Mary Moffett, Caroline Teague and Jane Servine all are experienced hands. Hermi Going, Sophie Lanahan and Erica Repich will look to provide possession and scoring punch in the midfield and up top. Addy Patterson and Emily Sposato give the Warriors two options in the cage. Charlottesville’s team will lean on a solid group in Stephanie Tharp’s first year as head coach including Maya Block, Ashlyn Cherrix, Julia Brooks and Cleo Engle. They’ll also get help from sophomores Lily Kate Sweeney and Sydney Gianakos. ✖

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SP on transfers Our policy on covering transfers between high schools


here are at least 1,000 reasons why a high school student athlete has to transfer between schools. For me, it was a family move, from North Carolina to Virginia in the middle of my sophomore year that took me from a school of around 800 or 900 students at that point to a school of more than 2,000 in Virginia Beach. It was a reality check for my high school football career, going from starting on both sides of the line at my old high school to trying to crack the lineup as a terribly slow tight end at a Beach District school behind three different players (some older, some younger, some my grade) who’d go on to play football at James Madison, Hampden Sydney and East Carolina. Needless to say, I quickly found journalism class and almost 20 years later, here we are. Anything could prompt a transfer for an athlete. A need for specialized education in the classroom, family circumstances, seeking out college recruitment opportunities or a coaching change are just a few reasons to prompt a move from school to school. Changing schools happens at the college level all the time too, where the quarterback transfer market in Division I football has become just as important as recruiting at the high school level for most programs from Clemson to Washington. But often at the prep level, the decision is less business and more personal. For example, because of a family career change, a student athlete has to change private schools to one with a lower tuition. Or a student is feuding with a specific coach at a single school. Or a student needs a smaller classroom size to focus on academics. Or a student wants to play with their friends. Sure, there are definitely situations where a student athlete is looking to shortcut around adversity, to take the easy way out. But there are other situations where the boulder in front of an athlete in their present situation is just too difficult to overcome. To me though it’s simple. Everyone should be able to transfer wherever they think is the best fit for them, and I don’t blame anyone for seeking out a better situation or environment for them to reach their academic or athletic goals. And when you’re in high school, you should be able to do so with some degree of privacy. That’s why going forward (and frankly going backward) we’re not going to cover the act of transferring between high schools. We’re not going to write a story about a student athlete moving from here to there because there’s often hurt feelings. There’s often mixed emotions and it’s often a challenging, difficult decision for a family. We’ve probably screwed this up over the last decade, and if and when we have, we apologize. Writing about it or tweeting about it or posting about just the act of changing schools isn’t going to do anyone much good. Maybe we’ll note in a game story, or if we’re writing a feature on an athlete and it’s critical to the story, we’ll note it in there. But we’re not covering transfers like college beat writers do. That information is out there, and you can surely find it. But you won’t find it here. I don’t think you’ll find it from our partners at Friday Night Endzone either since CBS19’s Sports Director Damon Dillman recently said “we don’t cover transfers, this isn’t

26 :: @scrimmageplay

“We’re not going to cover the act of transferring between high schools.”

the SEC.” He’s right, it isn’t the Southeastern Conference. High school coaches and players aren’t well-compensated public officials where most everything is fair game. They’re teachers or volunteers usually with the best of intentions trying to build a team or a program. Or they’re students looking to carve out a role, to find a scholarship or to just be happy. They should all be able to do that without journalistic scrutiny, without announcing it to the world on Twitter and in some cases, dealing with blowback from strangers. We’ve got to let students be students. We’ve got to let coaches coach. At Scrimmage Play, we don’t want to make that more difficult or more tiresome. We want to make that more fun. ✖

Bart Isley,

creative direc to r

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