The move to start the season on the weekend of Aug. 30 brings the VHSL regular season back to an 11-week period instead of covering a 12-week span that it recently had.
The vast majority of VHSL schools play a 10-game regular season in the 11-week time period that begins the weekend of Aug. 30 and ends on the weekend of Nov. 8.
GAMES TO WATCH THIS AUTUMN
As with every season, there are key gridiron games every week in the region that play a role in how the football season winds up. Here’s a look at a few of those likely key games.
FRIDAY, AUG. 30
GATE CITY AT RICHLANDS
After an 8-5 season last year, Richlands will be the prohibitive favorite against a Gate City program that has struggled the past few years.
Nevertheless, this contest will still be one to watch.
With the dawn of a new season, these two tradition-rich programs have high hopes, especially Gate City, which has a new hometown head coach.
Jeremy Houseright, a former Gate City player and assistant coach, has taken over the program.
Opening night will be a true test for the proud Gate City team.
FRIDAY, SEPT. 6
RICHLANDS AT UNION
Another battle between tradition-rich programs.
These two teams never fail to disappoint when it comes to excitement on the football field.
Union defeated Richlands last season 42-28 in one of the biggest point spreads between the two squads in recent years.
FRIDAY, SEPT. 13
PULASKI COUNTY AT ABINGDON
Last year, first-year Abingdon head coach Garrett Amburgey guided the Falcons to the Mountain 7 District championship and into the Region 3D playoffs.
This year, expectations are high again for Amburgey’s squad.
One of the biggest challenges for the Falcons will be always tough Pulaski County, which finished 8-4 last year and made it into the postseason before falling to Blacksburg in the Region 4D semifinals.
FRIDAY, SEPT. 20
UNION AT GRAHAM
This year marks the first regular-season meeting between the two Class 2 powerhouses.
Graham defeated Union 28-7 in the Region 2D semifinals last year on the way to winning the VHSL Class 2 state championship.
FRIDAY, SEPT. 27
GATE CITY AT UNION
Another big rivalry game and another tough test for Gate City and its first-year head coach.
While Union has controlled the series for the past few years, neither team can be counted out, regardless of record, in one of the region’s biggest rivalries.
FRIDAY, OCT. 4
EASTSIDE AT J.I. BURTON
This game has developed into a rivalry between neighboring schools with a lot more on the line than pride.
The winner of this game is the likely winner of the Cumberland District championship.
Others have challenged in recent years, but to no avail.
Billing this as the Cumberland District championship game, based on past history, is a good bet.
FRIDAY, OCT. 11
RIDGEVIEW AT UNION
Union was king of the hill in the Mountain 7 District until Ridgeview knocked the crown off the Bears last season.
With running back sensation Trenton Adkins — the Times News All-Southwest Virginia offensive player of the year — leading the way, Ridgeview will be a force to be reckoned with again this year.
As a sophomore last year, Adkins rushed for 1,987 yards and 26 touchdowns.
Ridgeview defeated Union 27-14 last season.
FRIDAY, OCT. 18
LEE HIGH AT GATE CITY
A game that will pit two Mountain 7 District foes against each other, each with a new head coach.
Gate City defeated Lee High 23-20 last year for its only win of the season.
FRIDAY, OCT. 25
ABINGDON AT RIDGEVIEW
Abingdon took a dramatic 36-30 overtime win over Ridgeview last year and went on to win the Mountain 7 District championship.
This year’s contest in Dickenson County could again be the game with the district title on the line.
FRIDAY, NOV. 1
WISE CENTRAL AT GATE CITY
Another rivalry game that ended in dramatic fashion last season.
Wise Central took a 22-21 win last year at home on Tommy McAmis Field.
This year could be another fight to finish between the two squads at Gate City’s Legion Field.
FRIDAY, NOV. 8
J.I. BURTON AT THOMAS WALKER
The Pioneers will be playing their final regular season game at home this year, and it could be a game with the Cumberland District championship on the line.
In recent years, the Cumberland title has gone to either Burton or Eastside. But Thomas Walker coach Nick Johnson has the Pioneers on the right track and will be a dark horse candidate heading into the season.
GATE CITY BASEBALL STAR COMMITS TO WSCC
Gate City rising senior Jon Compton has the potential for a great baseball season in the spring.
The Blue Devil star, named as the Times News Southwest Virginia baseball player of the year this past season, is already working on his future.
Compton announced Thursday on social media that he has committed to play baseball at Walters State Community College.
QUARTET JOINS UVA-WISE WOMEN’S HOOPS
UVa-Wise women’s basketball also announced a quartet of signees this week on social media.
The signees are:
* Leah Kestner, Chilhowie, a Class 1 all-state player, two-time All-Region 2D, and four-time, All-Hogoheegee District player. The 5-10 Kestner is listed as a forward.
* Alyssa Padilla, Lebanon, a 5-7 utility player who was named All-Southwest District twice.
* Caitlyn Ross, a 5-5 guard from Midway, Tenn. Ross was named all-state her senior year. She was also all-region and all-district and was named twice as her district’s player of the year.
* Nia Vanzant, the TSSAA tournament MVP from Murfreesboro. Vanzant was a two-time all-region and all-district player.