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Southwest Virginia preview: Gate City, Union prepare for first matchup since merger

October 19th, 2011 11:12 pm by George Thwaites

Over the decades, Gate City counted Powell Valley and Appalachia among its oldest and fiercest gridiron rivals.

After the Bulldogs and Vikings were consolidated to form the Union Bears, Blue Devils coach Bill Houseright knew exactly what it meant in football terms.

“It’s scary,” said Houseright, who takes Gate City (4-3) on the road Friday for its first-ever meeting with Union (3-4).

“When you’ve got Gate City and Appalachia and Big Stone, you know how that’s going to be. It ought to be a good one.”

Bears coach Travis Turner played against Gate City as an all-state quarterback at Appalachia. He’s good friends with Houseright’s son, Jake, who was an all-state linebacker and fullback with the Blue Devils. He coached under Phil Robbins as the Powell Valley epoch drew to a close.

Turner knows Gate City is a terrific rival for Union to inherit. But the Bears have to live up to it.

“Any time you play a team of Gate City’s caliber, you’ve got to be ready to play. They’ve got to be one of the top programs in the state of Virginia in all classifications,” said Turner.

“If you can’t get excited about playing a team like Gate City, then football might not be your game.”

Other games of interest include:

• Wise Central (5-2) at Eastside (3-5)

• Lee High (3-5, 1-0) at Lebanon (3-4, 0-1)

• J.I. Burton (6-1) at Johnson County (0-8)

• Twin Springs (4-3, 1-1) at Castlewood (5-3, 2-1)

• Ervinton (1-6. 0-4) at Rye Cove (4-3, 1-2)

• Clintwood (5-2) at Grundy (5-2)

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