Hitherto-unbeaten Clintwood suffered an emotional setback in last week’s 17-7 loss at Lebanon.
“I told our kids after the game that you’re going to have ups and downs in a season,” Clintwood coach Rick Mullins said. “It’s how you handle those down times and handle those up times that determines what kind of season you’re going to have.”
Fresh from a 12-6 upset of J.I. Burton at Bullitt Park, Powell Valley (2-3, 1-0) is unquestionably in “up” mode headed into Friday’s Lonesome Pine District clash with the Green Wave (3-1, 0-0) at Ralph Cummins Stadium.
Vikings coach Phil Robbins thinks Powell Valley’s first win over Norton in five years was a confidence-booster — but with one clear proviso.
“Well, yeah. I think so. Until you watch the Clintwood film and realize that you’re going to be playing a better football team than the one you played last week,” Robbins observed.
Powell Valley capitalized on seven Raiders turnovers last week. At Lebanon, the Greenwave failed to take care of the football, giving up two interceptions, a fumble and a muffed punt.
“And we had several untimely penalties that hurt us,” Mullins said. “We had more yardage than (Lebanon) did. But we made the mistakes and they didn’t.”
With Clintwood’s Division 1 status recently reaffirmed, the loss to the Division 2 Pioneers only damaged the Greenwave’s pride. The prospects for an LPD championship run and yet another state title bid remain undimmed.
“Everything we’ve set out to do is still in front of us,” Mullins said.
Powell Valley is clearly better than its record indicates. And if Richlands hadn’t slipped the noose, the record itself wouldn’t be such a negative indicator. Likewise, the Vikings’ 27-7 loss to Lebanon in the second game of the season may not be terribly useful for comparison.
Multi-faceted Powell Valley running back Myron Pinkston sat out last year’s 42-6 defeat to the Greenwave. The talented senior was hobbled by an injury in last week’s game, however, and might not prove the radical difference-maker he usually is.
Powell Valley’s execution up front just might. Last week the Vikings made a solid account of themselves lined up in the Power I with two tights and an unbalanced front.
“They’ve got good athletes, they’ve got a good offensive line and they’ve been in a couple of different offenses,” said Mullins, who is preparing his defense for multiple looks. “They’ve got some people they can move around.”
In addition to Pinkston, halfback Dathan Davis, fullback Bryan Rentfrow and wide receiver Lucas Fannon were all conspicuous offensive contributors for Powell Valley last week.
The Greenwave are led by quarterback Trey Meade and a committee of running backs, including Mancel Powers and Austin Dotson.
While there is no singular star player, Robbins notes that there is a lot of above-average football DNA woven into the Clintwood roster. The Greenwave offense continues to evolve.
“Trey Meade gives them the ability to do some different things because of his speed. They have good size, but aren’t going to overpower you with size. They play quick, play fast and play hard,” Robbins said.
Any perceived rivalry between these two teams lacks the bitter edge of last week’s collision between the Vikings and the Raiders. While certainly a meaningful district contest, Robbins doesn’t expect either program to bet the farm on it.
“There’s an awful lot of Clinch Mountain football that’s got to be played, just like there’s a lot of LPD football that’s still got to be played,” Robbins said. “You don’t know what can happen. Up and down the line, you just don’t know.”
SW Va. Capsules
Bluefield (3-1) at Gate City (4-1)
The Beavers, one of the top-ranked Class AA teams in West Virginia, are the best football team to visit Legion Field since Sullivan South. Bluefield, which took a week off after a 23-15 loss to Charlotte (NC) Country Day School, are led by QB Levi Beckett and RB Jake Lilley. WR Marcus Patterson, who came out of the Charlotte game with a concussion, is a big-play threat who could return to the lineup this week. Gate City, which beat Appalachia 42-8 last week, continues to be fueled offensively by QB Dusty Clark and RB Joseph Vaughn, who rushed for 154 yards and two scores a week ago.
Haysi (0-4) at Thomas Walker (3-1)
The Tigers travel to the literal ends of the Commonwealth in search of a win in this non-district clash. Haysi QB Chris Fleming has passed for 549 yards but only three TDs. Dakota Fleming leads the Tiger receivers with 21 catches for 351 yards and all three of those TDs. Pioneers QB Ryan Scott has thrown for 216 yards and three TDs. RBs Jared Brewer (49-232, 2 TDs) and Cody Williams (43-209, 5 TDs) lead the rushing attack.
Coeburn (1-4) at J.I. Burton (3-1)
The Blue Knights had their opportunities last week, but will find them harder to come by in this non-district game at Lawson-Fitchko Stadium. The turnover-prone Raiders will not be in a mood to cough it up much this week. Burton’s Martinez Miles has rushed for 468 yards and five TDs and has four catches for 99 yards, two of which were scores.
J.J. Kelly (4-0) at Rye Cove (0-4)
The Eagles had their opportunities last week, but will find them much scarcer in this non-district game at Clinchco. Alex McArthur, Ronnie Matney, Lucas Kerns and Brandon Osborne lead the ground attack for Kelly, which was off last week. The Indians are the only unbeaten team remaining in Region D and one of a handful of undefeated teams in Southwest Virginia, including Marion (4-0), Grundy (4-0) and Holston (5-0).
Twin Springs (1-4, 0-1) at Ervinton (1-4, 0-3)
The Titans had their opportunities last week and may get a few more at Nora this week. QB Aaron McCoy passed for 234 yards for the Titans failed comeback bid last week. The Rebels will take to the field with confidence after having broken a 15-game losing streak with last week’s 16-6 win over Big Creek, WVa. Joe McCoy rushed for 143 yards in that game, but scored his lone TD on defense with a scoop-and-score. Robbie Rose added another TD with his 50-yard run.
St. Paul (2-2, 2-0) at Castlewood (1-3, 1-1)
Both of these teams made the most of their opportunities last week, with the Deacons edging St. Paul 20-14 and the Blue Devils taking out Rye Cove 14-12. That makes for an interesting set-up for this Cumberland District clash between crosstown rivals. The Blue Devils have been led by Tyler Trent and QB Elliott Wohlgamuth. The Deacons are fueled by QB Tyler Phillips, WR Reid Edmonds and RB Denver Fritz.