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November 2, 2012

Eastern Region Predictions - Week 11

It's the last week of the regular season in Eastern Region High School Football for 2012. Oh where did the season go? It absolutely flew by, and the playoffs are almost set. The games this week will decide things. Not only do we have the enormous Peninsula District Showdown on Thursday night at Darling Stadium between the Hampton Crabbers and Phoebus Phantoms, but also King's Fork visiting Oscar Smith in the Southeastern District, Granby taking on Maury in the Eastern District on Saturday, and Lake Taylor traveling to Portsmouth to play Norcom.

Before we start to breakdown this week's matchups, let's review the Eastern Region Prediction Standings with State Football Editor Rod Johnson, VHSL-Reference.com and Matthew Hatfield.

Through 10-31-12

Wins

Losses

Pct.

Matthew Hatfield

153

26

85.5%

Rod Johnson

150

29

83.8%

VHSL-Reference

144

35

80.4%


The lead for Hatfield is three going into the final week of the regular season. Hatfield went 18-1 last week, only missing on Heritage/Warwick. Johnson and VHSL-Reference both posted a 17-2 record. Rod got tripped up on Norview/Wilson and VHSL-Reference misfired on Norcom/Mauary.


Game of the Week:

#6 Hampton (8-1) at #4 Phoebus (9-0) . . . The Peninsula District Game of the Year won't likely have enormous stakes in terms of seeding for the playoffs as these two are likely to check in as the #2 and #3 seeds in Division 5, unless Lake Taylor loses on Saturday night in Portsmouth to Norcom. If that happens, then the winner here has a shot to claim the #1 seed. What is on the line is the Peninsula District regular season title. A win for Phoebus gives them the crown outright. A Hampton victory creates a three-way tie with the Phantoms and Bethel, who handed the Crabbers their only loss in 2012 to date. With that in mind, this might be chapter one of two between these two archrivals with the next meeting potentially coming in 15 days in the regional semifinals at Darling Stadium.

What's rare about this year's matchup is it comes on a Thursday night as the game was moved up to accommodate the wedding of Mike Smith's daughter. The boss for the Crabbers has watched his team pitch five consecutive shutouts, marking the first time they've done that since 1984 when they ended up making it to the AAA title game, only to fall to T.C. Williams. Hampton comes at teams with a 1-2 punch in the backfield in QB Deon Newsome and RB Marshawn Williams, both committed to play their College Football in the ACC at Virginia Tech.

Newsome has thrown for 794 yards and an 11-7TD/Int. ratio to go with 843 yards rushing and 11TD's; Williams comes in just 61 yards shy of 1000 with 15TD's on the ground. They've also got ODU commit Daquin Moore (15Rec. 220Yds. 1TD) out wide and RB Roscoe Hale, who has rushed for 267 yards and 4TD's the past two weeks. The defense is led by Moore from the secondary as well as linebacker Daunte Wilson, who made two interceptions versus Norcom, and defensive linemen Joemel Redd, Quan Henry and Troy Garrett.

As great as Hampton has been, outscoring its foes 355-50 on the year, Phoebus has been just as impressive with a 385-77 margin versus its opponents. The Phantoms went through what some might consider mid-season turmoil when Stan Sexton was dismissed as Head Coach following an incident at practice, and defensive coordinator Jeremy Blount stepped in, and they haven't really missed a beat yet. Tailback Tony Pittman was suspended for two games during the transition, and he continues to move the chains at will with 1286 yards and 15 touchdowns on just 147 attempts. Da'Quan Lane gives them another threat in the backfield with 84 rushes for 673 yards and 10TD's.

Richie Staton, a Kecoughtan transfer, has given them a spark in multiple facets of the game with 11TD's total, scoring on five of his seven receptions, three kickoff returns, two punt returns and a fumble recovery. Defensively, he's a factor as well with 60 tackles and 10 sacks. Defensive end Mark Wilson, who's committed to ODU, will chase quarterbacks constantly, while linebacker Atavius Matthews is a heat-seeking missile looking to unload on ball carriers. Harry Lewis and Kevin Lyles also cause havoc on the d-line.


Hampton Keys to Victory:

#1 - - Make Phoebus Pass: The Phantoms are +17 in turnover margin largely because they've been able to keep it on the ground and allow freshman QB Terrell Toliver (9TD's, 0INT's passing) to make safe, low-risk throws to receivers. If Hampton is able to bottle up the run game somewhat and force the ninth grader to have to put it in the air, especially on third downs, the probability for the Phantoms to turn it over probably increases significantly. The Crabbers want to force Toliver to beat them with his arm, and also see just how capable of the Phantoms' receivers are against a pretty steady secondary with Moore, Trey Pressley and sometimes even Newsome roaming back there.

#2 - - Receivers Need to Step Up: At times, the Crabbers' receiving corps has had a case of the dropsies (just see their games against Warwick and Norcom for further evidence). They do have legit talent at the position and can get the job done. Moore leads them with 15 receptions, and after him they are counting on Trevor Arneaud, freshman Jovonn Quillen and junior Umar Muhammad-Wyatt. The more plays they make, even after gaining extra yards after the catch, the less pressure there will be on Newsome and Williams to have to spark the offense against a Phoebus defensive front that is downright physical.

#3 - - Wrap Up Pittman: He's the engine that makes the Phoebus offense go, and if you let him get a full head of steam, defenses are in for a long night. Hampton has to tackle him on the initial hit. Pittman, who my VirginiaPreps.com colleague Rod Johnson wrote earlier in the week runs as violently as any player in the state, simply punishes defenders. The d-line needs to get decent to good penetration, and the linebackers have to get a hat on him or else he'll get to the second level of the defense with a chance to break one 20-plus yards. Those runs are the ones that prove to be really demoralizing for the opposition, and as long as the Crabbers can prevent those or limit that number, they should be in okay shape.


Phoebus Keys to Victory:

#1 - - Keep Newsome in the Pocket: Perhaps the only quarterback in the region that does as much damage if not more passing and running, fitting the dual-threat description, is Salem's Bucky Hodges. Newsome has over 1600 total yards, 22TD's total and the scary thing is his most natural position at the next level if he stayed on offense may be receiver. In the open field, Newsome make life miserable for defenses. Don't let him use his legs to scramble around and make plays. Phoebus has to collapse the pocket and force him to get rid of the ball quickly, and corral him before he gets to the level of the defense where linebackers and defenses are matched up one-on-one versus him.

#2 - - Field Position: Even if the Phantoms are unable to put together one of their vintage long drives of smash-mouth football, running it down their opponents' throats, it's important they control field position so that Hampton's offense has to be conservative to avoid a mistake that would cost them immediately on the scoreboard. Phoebus has proven they can win games that are low-scoring and don't need to be ultra explosive as long as they are tackling well, playing crisp defensively and in control of field position. This is potentially one of those matchups where neither offense gets a whole lot going because of the amount of speed, depth and athleticism the two defenses possess.

#3 - - Don't Shoot Yourself in the Foot: Above all else, this means minimize and eliminate the penalties. Phoebus has 609 yards in penalties, the most among all Peninsula District teams and fourth highest in the region in that category. When Bethel nearly beat them earlier this year, the Phantoms were flagged 13 times for 120 yards. Now granted, that was the team's first game after the coaching switch from Sexton to Blount. But Phoebus cannot have undisciplined, lack of composure type moments that burn them and give Hampton a shorter field to work with because the Crabbers are good enough to capitalize on those opportunities. Other teams in the PD they've faced might not be, but this team has at least three D-1 talents on offense with Newsome, Williams and Moore who'll make you pay.


Closing Thoughts:
To me, the really interesting aspect of this game is the difference in age of the two coaches. Smith is 42 years older than Blount, which means he could be his grandfather. He's also coached 503 more games with a wealth of big-game experience. That would be offset by the fact Phoebus was the Team of the Decade in the 2000's with seven state titles to Hampton's one this century, but last year the Crabbers won the head-to-head matchup in overtime and come in playing as well, if not better than their upcoming opponent.

Both running games are great. Defensively, they both have the ability to dominate and do so for long stretches. Neither team's passing game is spectacular, so that seems to be a bit of a wash. Hampton has been just a smidge stingier defensively, but Phoebus seems slightly more explosive with their ground game with a massive offensive line pancaking substantially smaller defensive linemen that they've faced to this point. Don't be surprised to see this come down to a kick late or at the very end. For years, that advantage in special teams would go to Phoebus because of Eric Enderson, their clutch kicker who's now at Delaware. This year they've had a few more issues than usual in that area on special teams with 12 missed extra points, while Hampton has been sound in this department.

It's doubtful that the Hampton defense can shut down Pittman. On the other end, it's going to be quite a task for Phoebus to be able to contain Newsome, Williams and Hale, who is definitely one of the x-factors in this game. A defensive touchdown off a takeaway or a kick/punt return can shift the advantage to either team. Just like it should when these two rivals and powerhouse programs with plenty of hardware in their trophy cases meet, look for it go to down to the wire and the team with the ball last to probably pull it out.


Predictions:
Matt Says: Hampton 17-12
Rod Says: Hampton 14-13
VHSL-Reference Says: Phoebus 28-13


#12 King's Fork (7-2) at #1 Oscar Smith (8-1) . . .
The King's Fork Bulldogs secured their first postseason berth in school history by beating Deep Creek last week and can add to their best ever if they knock off the Oscar Smith Tigers. Oscar Smith, the reigning Division 6 State Champion, continues their quest of a third state title in five seasons. The Tigers pitched a shutout of Grassfield, 27-0 last week. Against the Hornets, King's Fork got six touchdowns from Virginia Tech commit Charles Clark, who has returned four interceptions for scores this year. Don't expect King's Fork to get those types of highlight reel plays against an Oscar Smith defense giving up only 4.8 points per game versus Virginia competition. Darren Flowers, Andrew Brown and ODU commit Kanyia Anderson make for as dominating a defensive line as King's Fork will see all season.

King's Fork has some weapons outside of Clark in freshman running back Deshaun Wethington, junior QB Uriah Adams and WR Davon Grayson, an East Carolina commit. They're going to really need the offensive line to step up and prevent the Tigers from getting penetration up the middle. Defensively, they have to worry greatly about stopping QB Dashawn Blow (1726 yards passing, 26TD's) and his stellar cast of receivers with ODU commit Melvin Vaughn (37Rec. 608Yds. 7TD's), UVA commit Zack Jones and Jaylen Bradshaw as well as RB's DeShawn McClease and Marcus Smith. Oscar Smith is looking for consecutive win #55 in the Southeastern District, and they're on a roll right now.

Matt Says: Oscar Smith 45-10
Rod Says: Oscar Smith 35-7
VHSL-Reference Says: Oscar Smith 21-14


#2 Lake Taylor (9-0) at Norcom (6-3) . . .
The last time Lake Taylor went to Portsmouth to play Norcom, it didn't go too well with the Greyhounds blanking the Titans. Lake Taylor has a much better offense than they did then as they are averaging a region-best 45.7 points per game. Quarterback Delmon Williams has thrown for 1183 yards, 21 touchdowns and no interceptions with WR Harry Freeman (22Rec. 405Yds. 10TD's) developing into his go-to guy. In the backfield, Brandon 'Pork Chop' Moore and Daquan Davis have together rushed for 2082 yards and 27TD's. Norcom's offensive line did a fairly solid job paving the way for star RB Traquan Martin in their win over Maury on Tuesday night. Martin will go into this one needing 70 yards rushing to get to 1000 for the season. They have a grinder to complement him with Aaron Parker, who'll mainly rush between the tackles. Blocking Lake Taylor's quick and tenacious pass rush won't be easy. The trio of Jalyn Holmes, Brandon Lynch and Marquise Poole has combined for 31 sacks on the year.

Matt Says: Lake Taylor 41-13
Rod Says: Lake Taylor 36-24
VHSL-Reference Says: Lake Taylor 36-10


#3 Ocean Lakes (9-0) at Kellam (6-3) . . .
It's the final game for Kellam in its current stadium as they will usher in a new one in 2013. The Knights would like nothing better than to beat one of its city rivals to close it out and keep slim playoff hopes alive. Tailbacks Cole Bava (139Att. 811Yds. 13TD's) and Mike Rawls have been more than serviceable carrying the rock, and QB Pat Kagel is having what some could call a breakout year with the junior signal caller hooking up with unheralded wide receiver Bryce Giddings quite a bit to move the chains. Ocean Lakes comes in with arguably the region's best defense, at least statistically speaking with six shutouts on the year and not allowing 20 points in any game. D-tackles Demetri McGill and Derrick Nnadi are immovable objects on the middle of the line. On the offensive line, Alex Skidmore has become one of the region's more consistent tackles, protecting the blindside of QB Corwin Cutler as the UVA commit has thrown for 1859 yards and 25 touchdowns. Delaware commit Andre Dessenberg leads the region in receptions as well as touchdowns catches with 50 and 13 respectively.

Matt Says: Ocean Lakes 38-14
Rod Says: Ocean Lakes 44-21
VHSL-Reference Says: Ocean Lakes


#5 Salem (8-1) at Princess Anne (1-8) . . .
Robert Jackson's SunDevils enter having won seven straight in the head-to-head series with Princess Anne, six of them being shutouts. While Corwin Cutler of Ocean Lakes and Josh Marriner from Western Branch might be the front-runners for Eastern Region Player of the Year honors, Salem QB Bucky Hodges is still very much in the discussion. The Virginia Tech commit has accounted for 27 total touchdowns. The SunDevils have used Daijon Bland in place of Torron Person at running back the last two weeks and he's done quite well, racking up nearly 200 yards against Kellam alone. Receivers Kwamane Bowens and James Church give Hodges a guy that can stretch the field and a dependable possession target. For Princess Anne, junior linebacker Aaron Glover has made 96 tackles, 14 sacks and forced three fumbles as one of the few bright spots. What will be awfully tough for PA is to block Salem's blitz with LB Andrew Motu'apuaka, Steven Smith and Rainney Thompson, all relentless defenders.

Matt Says: Salem 54-6
Rod Says: Salem 49-7
VHSL-Reference Says: Salem 63-7


#7 Granby (8-1) at Maury (5-4) . . . Ah yes, the old Norfolk rivalry that goes back to the days of the 1920's.
These two Eastern District schools have had some classic battles, and over the years, the team with the worse record has often beaten the team with the better record. Granby is enjoying its best year in quite some time as a victory here will get them in the playoffs for the first time since 2004. They rushed for 380 yards in blanking Booker T. Washington 34-0 on Tuesday. On defense, linebacker Caleb Wilson had two interceptions and further helped his case to be an All-Eastern Region First Team selection. Maury is in with a win or a Nansemond River loss to Lakeland on Friday night. They'll know where they stand come Saturday morning when they wake up. Without star WR Davion Taylor, Maury has turned more to the run game with Devonte Carothers, freshman Delveon Little, Nigel English and QB Anthony Smith on keeper plays. Their problem is the Granby run defense is extremely stout, giving up only 49.4 rush yards per game. The advantage goes to the Comets.

Matt Says: Granby 24-17
Rod Says: Granby 20-14
VHSL-Reference Says: Granby 21-13


#9 Western Branch (7-2) at Indian River (3-6) . . .
UCONN commit and Western Branch senior running back Josh Marriner is eying 2000 yards on the ground. After his 417-yard performance against Great Bridge that set a new school and Southeastern District single-game record, he sits 318 yards away from that barrier. If the Bruins didn't split his carries up among several different players, also including Terrence Ricks, Donte Shepard and Eugene Summerville, he could very well get that in this game against an Indian River defense allowing 30.7 points per game. The Braves have been inconsistent on offense at times, although RB JaQue Sawyer is talented enough to take one to the house and WR's Richie Williams and Kevin Smith can give secondary some problems. Western Branch won last year's meeting 44-6. It could get a little closer, but don't anticipate the final score being all that tight.

Matt Says: Western Branch 49-17
Rod Says: Western Branch 47-20
VHSL-Reference Says: Western Branch 44-0


Deep Creek (1-8) at #10 Grassfield (7-2) . . .
There isn't much intrigue in this game, which is kind of a shame since these two Chesapeake rivals are pretty close to one another. Granted, it is a rivalry game and Deep Creek will be hired up to knock off the Grizzlies and hand them a third straight loss following defeats by King's Fork and Oscar Smith, but the Hornets are giving up more points than anyone else in the region per game. Furthermore, on offense they haven't been able to get RB Armond Askew, WR Deon Terrell or any of the main options loose the past few weeks, scoring just seven points over the last three games. Halfback Vincent Lowe will rest his sore ankle for the playoffs, so the Grizz will lean heavily on QB Blake LaRussa, RB Isaiah Harper and WR Paris Smith, who made two interceptions last week, offensively. Linebacker Marcus Mitchell and company should be able to sniff out the Hornets' run game from the start.

Matt Says: Grassfield 35-6
Rod Says: Grassfield 44-7
VHSL-Reference Says: Grassfield 40-0


#11 Bethel (7-2) at Woodside (5-4) . . .
For Bethel, this is a game that can secure them a home playoff game in the first round, which further speaks volumes to the type of season they've had after graduating their starting QB and top two receivers from a team that led the Eastern Region in passing offense. They've transitioned well to a run-first team and been hot ever since knocking off Hampton earlier this season. Two players that are iffy to play or might be out - - Woodside QB Darius Howell and Bethel RB Jihad Hudson - - may have an impact on this game. The Wolverines were down to their fourth-string signal caller against Phoebus, but last week bounced back behind 148 yards rushing from Tyris Walker. Tim Flood leads their defense with four touchdowns on that side of the ball.

Whether or not Hudson plays, Bethel has seen fullback Brian Moore become a big part of their offense with 276 yards on the ground. Quarterback Trey Jackson can make things happen passing or rushing. Up front on the defensive line, Ricky Walker is an animal, making five tackles for loss last week against Warwick and he recently picked up another offer from Boston College. I'm very tempted to call for Woodside to pull the upset in this spot, but they've been banged up at the quarterback position lately and their defense has trouble getting off the field besides when Flood or someone creates a turnover. I do expect this to be a close game that may take overtime to decide the outcome.

Matt Says: Bethel 26-23 (OT)
Rod Says: Bethel 20-10
VHSL-Reference Says: Bethel 34-20


Nansemond River (5-4) at #13 Lakeland (6-3) . . .
For Nansemond River, their whole season boils down to this game if they want to be in the playoffs. Win and they're in, but lose and their season ends at 5-5 overall. Nansemond River has beaten Lakeland each of the last two seasons, winning 21-14 a year ago. Lakeland comes in playing about as well as they have in a long time, outscoring Great Bridge and Indian River 96-7 over the last two games. Quarterback Zach Super of the Cavaliers has passed for 1626 yards and 15TD's on the year with 799 of those yards and 7TD's in the past three weeks.

Wideout Antonio Jefferson currently leads the Cavs with 39 grabs for 652 yards and 6TD's, and he isn't the only reliable weapon with Derrick Edghill, Mike Piersawl and Darnell McMillian all capable of making a big play. The key to the game will likely be how well Nansemond River's defense with Marvin Branch, Tiron Smith, Demario Valentine and others contain Lakeland's ground game with Raekwon Johnson, last year's SED Player of the Year. Offensively, the Warriors need some play-action passing to balance out their offensive standout, junior RB Latrell 'Vegas' Sandifer (1246 yards, 12TD's). In the end, Lakeland has too much speed on the outside for the Nansemond River defensive backfield to contain in my opinion.

Matt Says: Lakeland 31-21
Rod Says: Lakeland 33-20
VHSL-Reference Says: Lakeland 29-13


Cox (6-3) at First Colonial (5-4) . . .
The Cox Falcons saw their playoff hopes take a big hit last week losing to Bayside 34-27 in a game they led by six in the fourth quarter. Mike DeMasi was part of strong ground attack that rolled up around 300 yards on the Marlins, and their interior offensive line with Cody Reuss, Aaron Holt and Gabe Hollins had their way. Blocking Simeyon Robinson, a defensive tackle that registered three tackles for loss and a sack in the Patriots' 34-14 win over Princess Anne, won't be easy. What is good for Cox is that First Colonial doesn't have quite the offensive firepower that Bayside has. They primarily want to run the ball with Rayshawn Steverson and Raven Greene, and occasionally mix in the play-action pass with Joey Brown. As long as the Cox defense can get off the field on third down and Tommy McKee runs the option like he's been doing throughout this year, a slight edge goes to the road team in this one. It should be very close, though.

Matt Says: Cox 20-16
Rod Says: Cox 27-13
VHSL-Reference Says: Cox 27-17


Green Run (1-8) at Tallwood (1-8) . . .
Green Run comes in having dropped eight in a row after defeating Princess Anne in its opener. Since beating Princess Anne 34-12, Tallwood has lost four straight, getting shutout three straight times for the first time since 2008. The Stallions were able to shutout Tallwood 30-0 last year, but Green Run also was a playoff team in 2011 and they won't be one this November. Junior tailback Anthony Scott comes into this matchup fresh off a pair of 100-yard rushing performances and is 163 yards shy of 1000 for the season. On the outside, senior corner and receiver De'Quan Edwards is a playmaker who'll likely be matched up against Christian Byrum, one of Tallwood's better players. In the trenches, junior Shaun James is developing into a prospect to watch next year for the Stallions. Tallwood threw 13 interceptions in the month of October, and no matter what Allen Hayes, Kentory Matthews or anyone else does on the ground, they will find it difficult to beat anyone, Green Run included, if they turn the ball over that frequently.

Matt Says: Green Run 27-12
Rod Says: Green Run 20-13
VHSL-Reference Says: Green Run 23-17


Landstown (3-6) at Kempsville (2-7) . . .
Ocean Lakes shutout both of these teams the last time they took the field. Offensively, neither team is going to wow you. Up front, these are two fairly big lines, at least not small ones. Each team wants to build some confidence for the future. Kempsville has been operating most of the year with a freshman signal caller in Tyler Hatcher while mixing in a bunch of running backs. Will they collectively be able to run it against Daquan Rosario, Maurice Walters and those Landstown linebackers? One thing in the Chiefs' corner is they are coming off a bye week, but is their run defense up to the task of tackling Trevon Byron? The Landstown ball carrier has rushed for 837 yards and four touchdowns on 155 attempts, and if either QB Keanu Reuben or fellow back Shyheim Swinson can provide him a breather and get some yardage on the ground, then Landstown should have just enough offensively to pull this one out.

Matt Says: Landstown 28-8
Rod Says: Landstown 16-6
VHSL-Reference Says: Landstown 29-14


Wilson (0-9) at Booker T. Washington (2-7) . . .
These two teams have had rather disappointing seasons. Booker T. Washington was 2-1 and beat Warwick in overtime, which had them thinking at that point they would be headed to the playoffs for the second time in three years. Since then, they've lost six in a row, don't have the services of WR/DB Rodney Johnson and their small number of seniors on the roster has shown. Defensive tackle Zain Upshur has been a disruptive force up front, though. Sophomore linebacker Anfreny Yancey is another name to remember; he recorded 11 tackles in their 34-0 loss to Granby on Tuesday. Wilson got down big against Norview, nearly came back and won and they are still searching for their first victory. At times, they've been dangerous, losing to Granby by only one and having a lead in the first half on Maury. They need all of their main weapons like Derwounte Greene, Rochelle Peebles and Jamze Merritt to play at their best. Keep an eye on their sophomore linebacker, James Chapman, as well. This is a toss-up game.

Matt Says: Wilson 33-27
Rod Says: Booker T. Washington 14-13
VHSL-Reference Says: Booker T. Washington 31-10


Norview (2-7) at Churchland (2-7) . . .
These two teams have played some relatively close games over the years. Since 2000, six of the meetings have been decided by six points or less. Only a sophomore, Norview triggerman E.J. Faison has passed for 1348 yards, often connecting with Michael Gadson, Sae'Quan Whitaker and others down the field on long passing downs. The Pilots will have to get some balance, running the football effectively against the Churchland defense to score a bunch of points. While the Truckers did give up 63 points to Lake Taylor this past Tuesday afternoon, their offense did score 40 points behind dual-threat QB Malik Sexton's 254 total yards and 5TD's, four of which came through the air. Robert Boyd became the first receiver to go over 100 yards against the Lake Taylor defense this season. Between Sexton and Boyd, Churchland has two game-breakers that might be too much for the Norview defense.

Matt Says: Churchland 30-21
Rod Says: Churchland 37-23
VHSL-Reference Says: Churchland 21-20


Great Bridge (0-9) at Hickory (2-7) . . .
Even after a lackluster defensive showing last week against Western Branch in which Josh Marriner went over 400 yards on the ground and the Bruins gained 700-plus yards, the Wildcats are capable of moving the ball on Hickory and winning this game. Tailback Brandon Jones rushed for a season-high 179 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries against the Bruins, and Marvin Taylor added a career-best 190 yards receiving and two touchdowns on five receptions. While Hickory has dropped five in a row, the Hawks have a RB/WR combo of their own in Andy Eaton and Richard Burney, an underclassman who projects out to be a next-level prospect. In the end, I'd give the Hawks a slight advantage just because defensively they've held each of their last there foes to 21 points or less. Only Deep Creek is giving up more points per game than Great Bridge's 40.7PPG allowed. Hickory's last win over Great Bridge was in 2005.

Matt Says: Hickory 27-26
Rod Says: Hickory 30-21
VHSL-Reference Says: Hickory 42-21


Denbigh (2-7) at Heritage (5-4) . . .
The chore is not an easy one for the Denbigh Patriots. They have to figure out a way to slow down the Butcher. That's Khalid Abdullah, who has rushed for 1390 yards on the season. Sure, QB Terrence Dingle and the Denbigh offense have made some strides in recent weeks with 28 points in a win over Gloucester and 24 points in a loss to Woodside. Their defense isn't faring too well against powerful ball carriers like Abdullah. It doesn't end with him for Heritage either. Cameron Siler, their fullback, is able to churn out the tough yards in short yardage situations. On defense, sophomores Dimitri Holloway and Marcus Van Hook give them two building blocks for the future. This is game the Hurricanes know they have to win to make the playoffs, and after last week's slip up versus Warwick, look for them to much crisper on both sides of the ball.

Matt Says: Heritage 35-9
Rod Says: Heritage 28-14
VHSL-Reference Says: Heritage 34-16


Gloucester (0-9) at Warwick (3-6) . . .
It has been a rough year for the Warwick Raiders as they won't be going to the playoffs after being picked as high as #3 in the preseason in the Peninsula District. That being said, their 35-14 upset of Heritage last week helped eased some of the pain from their tough season. Quarterback Josh Butler, carrying the offense in the absence of injured star RB Cardon Johnson, rolled up over 200 all-purpose yards in that surprising rout. Gloucester is still searching for its first win and they've had some adversity to battle of their own, including a coaching switch during the season. Even with only one touchdown on the year, Dukes junior RB James Scott is just 58 yards away from 1000 for the season and might be able to get it against Warwick's porous defense. Finding the end zone will be a little trickier; DE David Smith and DB Demetree Harris are sure to come to play in their final game.

Matt Says: Warwick 49-13
Rod Says: Warwick 30-7
VHSL-Reference Says: Warwick 48-0


Kecoughtan (4-5) at Menchville (2-7) . . .
The Menchville Monarchs haven't beaten the Kecoughtan Warriors since 2001, although last year's game went to overtime with Kecoughtan emerging victorious 28-21. In that matchup, Monarchs kicker Dillon Christopher drilled a 60-yard field goal to set a new VHSL record. Can Christopher break his own mark in his final game? He's sure to get an opportunity for a field goal or two one would think, the question is can Menchville get into the red zone more than once against the Warriors? An even bigger question is will they be able to stop Kecoughtan's running game, keyed by Trenton Cannon? On the year, Cannon has rushed for 1270 yards and 15TD's, and even though they have dropped four in a row to fall out of the playoffs, he will test Menchville's linebackers and front seven repeatedly.

Matt Says: Kecoughtan 23-3
Rod Says: Kecoughtan 27-6
VHSL-Reference Says: Kecoughtan 27-14

Matthew Hatfield has covered Eastern Region Football & Basketball since 2004 for VirginiaPreps.com, part of the Rivals.com Network. Check out Hatfield's Twitter page for more sports related updates, and you can also read his work in the Suffolk News Herald. To contact Matthew, please e-mail hatfieldsports2k4@yahoo.com, and don't forget to listen to him on High School Sports Talk from 10AM to Noon on ESPN Radio 94.1, plus watch him on the Cox 11 Sports Report.

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