The season is upon us and excitement is high.
Several camps in the region harbor a lot of expectations going into the season’s kickoff Thursday when Ridgeview travels to Norton to face J.I. Burton ahead of a full slate of contests scheduled on Friday.
HOW THEY WILL FINISH
Nov. 8 is the 11th and final week of the regular season. While that seems like a long way away, it will be here quickly once the teams get underway.
The favorites may be familiar, but each district in the region has its dark horses.
In the Class 2 Mountain 7 District, which also includes Class 3 Abingdon, Gate City and Wise Central stack up as the dark horses. Both have plenty of potential and definitely the talent to upend one of the district’s front-runners.
In the Class 2 Southwest District, Graham and Richlands are the top picks for most, but dark-horse Tazewell has surfaced. The Bulldogs have been in the shadows of the district’s standings for some time, but this year there’s optimism around the Tazewell County seat.
Optimism also dwells in Ewing where Thomas Walker is the easy pick as the dark horse in the Class 1 Cumberland District.
Here’s the way the Mountain 7 District should wind up at the season’s end:
4. Wise Central
5. Gate City
6. John Battle
7. Lee High.
Here’s the picks for the Cumberland District football season:
1. J.I. Burton
3. Thomas Walker
4. Rye Cove
5. Twin Springs
Ridgeview at J.I. Burton (Thursday) — It’s a big game because it’s the first one of the season. Ridgeview is the favorite to win the game and, for many, the Mountain 7. Burton is the overwhelming favorite to win the Cumberland, but there’s no doubt the Raiders need to be at their best early to have a chance in this one.
Union at Lee High — This one always seems to be a close. The Bears head in hoping to prove they’ll be ust as tough this year as in the past, despite key personnel losses. The Generals seek a strong showing with new coach Alec Haston at the helm.
Wise Central at Eastside — Most intra-county games are big ones. This one is no different. Both teams are looking to get their seasons off to a positive start.
Gate City at Richlands — The Jeremy Houseright era begins at Gate City. Richlands, after being unseated by state champion Graham as the Southwest’s major power, is looking to take back the title.
TOPS IN THE REGION
No regular-season games have been played, but talk and expectations abound about how the season eventually will play out Heading into Week 1, here’s a look at the preseason top 10 in Southwest Virginia.
7. Patrick Henry
8. J.I. Burton
10. Wise Central
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE SPORTS
While football is king of the sports scene in the fall, other sports are being played around the region. Golf started in early August and wraps up in early October. Cross country begins this weekend, and volleyball serves up its first full week of action this week.
Here’s a look at the picks of how the Mountain 7 District volleyball season should wrap up:
2. Gate City
4. John Battle
5. Wise Central
7. Lee High
Here’s the picks for the outcome of the Cumberland District volleyball season:
2. Thomas Walker
3. Rye Cove
4. J.I. Burton
5. Twin Springs