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Most playoff puzzle pieces on the board, just not in place

Kevin Mays • Oct 23, 2019 at 12:30 PM

With three weeks remaining in high school football season in Southwest Virginia, the postseason picture is starting to take a little bit of shape.

Nothing is set in stone, however, and plenty of scenarios still could come to fruition with upsets.

Several teams already have secured a spot in the playoffs, but where they will wind up seeded is still up in the air and may not be decided until the regular season concludes on Nov. 8.

It’s complicated and takes a calculator to figure out most scenarios. But here’s a look at some likely cases.

PACK CONTROLS DESTINY

Three teams have a shot at the No. 1 spot in the eight-team Region 2D playoff field.

Ridgeview controls its own destiny, Union needs some help and Richlands needs a lot of help to secure the top spot and home-field advantage throughout the regionals.

The Wolfpack faces back-to-back challenges in Abingdon and undefeated Pikeville, Kentucky, before ending the regular season with Honaker. Three straight season-closing wins would give Ridgeview the No. 1 2D seed.

Ridgeview can still earn the top spot with a loss to Abingdon or Pikeville if Abingdon beats Union on Nov. 1.

For Union to gain the No. 1 spot, the Bears need to beat Abingdon and have Pikeville or both Abingdon and Pikeville beat Ridgeview. Union could earn the top spot — even with a loss to Abingdon — if Ridgeview falls to both Abingdon and Pikeville and Graham defeats Richlands on Friday night.

Richlands is another variable in the equation. The Blue Tornado can end up anywhere from No. 1 to No. 6 in the playoff picture.

For the Tornado to have a shot at the top spot, they need to beat Graham, have Ridgeview lose to both Abingdon and Pikeville and have Abingdon beat Union.

A Graham win over Richlands would jump the G-Men, currently fifth in points, to the No. 3 seed at year’s end.

Wise Central’s game at Gate City on Nov. 1 also plays a key role. A Central win, coupled with expected victories over Lee High and Grundy, would clinch the first home playoff game in the Warriors’ history with either a No. 3 or No. 4 spot.

Tazewell, Gate City and Marion are likely to round out the playoff field.

HOGOHEEGEE HEAVY

In the Region 1D playoff field, the Hogoheegee District’s Patrick Henry and defending region champ Chilhowie are good bets to finish in the top four.

Those teams meet Nov. 1. A win by Patrick Henry seals the top spot for the undefeated Rebels. They are likely to gain the top spot anyway unless they lose to Chilhowie and J.I. Burton wins out by beating Castlewood, Rye Cove and Thomas Walker. In that scenario, Burton would catapult from its present fourth spot to the top.

Thomas Walker could also claim the No. 1 spot if it wins out against Eastside, Twin Springs and Burton and Chilhowie beats Patrick Henry.

Chilhowie can earn the top spot with a win over Patrick Henry and Burton and Thomas Walker losses along the way over the final three weeks.

The Nos. 5-8 spots in the Region 1D playoffs likely will be decided among Eastside, Castlewood, Hurley, Honaker and Holston.

PLAYERS OF THE WEEK

5-star — Jeremiah Allen, RB, Castlewood

Allen entered Castlewood’s record book last weekend by running for 308 yards, the second-highest rushing yardage total in school history. The junior had five touchdowns in a 34-14 win over Russell County rival Lebanon.

4-star — Trenton Adkins, RB, Ridgeview

Adkins bounced back from a quiet — for him — night a week ago by rushing for 196 yards and six touchdowns in the Wolfpack’s 44-6 win over John Battle.

3-star — Mason Hardin, QB, Rye Cove

The junior had a solid night on the ground and in the air. He finished with 255 yards and four touchdowns on 30 carries and completed 2 of 3 passes for 58 yards and another touchdown in the Eagles’ 60-42 win over Unaka. Hardin also converted on five 2-point attempts.

2-star — Kenny Ball, RB, Thomas Walker

The junior back rushed for 158 yards and three touchdowns and hauled in three passes for 89 yards and a touchdown in the Pioneers' 36-6 win over Twin Valley.

1-star — C.J. Crabtree, 23, Wise Central

The junior tallied 153 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries in the Warriors’ 21-13 Mountain 7 District win over Union.

KEY GAMES

Abingdon at Ridgeview

This game is one of three this Friday in Southwest Virginia to pit district leaders against each other.

Ridgeview (6-1, 4-1 Mountain 7) is looking for revenge against Class 3 Abingdon (4-3, 3-0), which defeated the Wolfpack in overtime last year on the way to winning the district championship.

A win Friday would give the Wolfpack at least a share of the district title.

Thomas Walker at Eastside

Thomas Walker (6-1, 2-0 Cumberland District) was in a similar position last year. The Pioneers have won their first two league games but now face their toughest district challenge so far against Eastside (3-4, 2-1).

The Spartans scored early and often last year on the way to beating the Pioneers.

If Thomas Walker can pick up a win this time around, it would likely set up a showdown for the district championship at J.I. Burton in the final week of the regular season.

Castlewood at J.I. Burton

Castlewood is turning some heads in the region with one of its best starts in recent memory.

The Blue Devils (5-2, 2-1) face their two biggest Cumberland challenges in the next three weeks: J.I. Burton (5-2, 2-0) this Friday and Eastside on Nov. 8. The Cumberland has saved the best for last with four teams — Burton, Eastside, Thomas Walker and Castlewood — all having a chance to claim at least a share of the district title.

FOOTBALL TOP 10

Union’s stay atop the poll last only a week thanks to a loss to Wise Central that dropped the Bears to No. 2. Defending VHSL Class 2 and Region 2D champion Graham moved into the top position.

Here’s a look at the top 10 after Week 8 with record, how they fared last week and previous ranking.

1. Graham (4-2) def. Virginia High 51-12 — 2

2. Union (6-2) lost to Wise Central 21-13 — 1

3. Ridgeview (6-1) def. John Battle 44-6 — 3

4. Abingdon (4-3) did not play — 7

5. Patrick Henry (7-0) did not play — 4

6. Wise Central (5-2) def. Wise Central 21-13 — 8

7. Richlands (4-3) def. Marion 38-0 — 6

8. Chilhowie (6-1) def. Rural Retreat 52-14 — 5

9. J.I. Burton (5-2) def. Grundy 46-19 — 9

10. Thomas Walker (6-1) def. Twin Valley 36-6 — 10

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