This is, however, the first regular- season matchup between the Bears and the G-Men. Their previous meetings came in the postseason, with Graham winning for the first time last year, 28-7, in the Region 2D semifinals. The Bears won 37-0 in 2017, 49-21 in 2015 and 34-26 in 2012.
Graham’s victory last year was directed by quarterback Cam Allen, who’s now playing on Saturdays as a defensive back at Purdue.
While the G-Men don’t have Allen calling the signals, they still have a topnotch quarterback in Devin Lester. Lester, who has committed to Old Dominion, is a dual threat as a passer and a runner. Last week against Giles, Lester threw for 151 yards and ran for 152 yards.
When in passing mode, Lester has several big playmakers to connect with: Isaiah Justice, Joey Dales, Marquis Ray and Xayvion Turner.
Union counters offensively with a three-prong rushing attack headed by Mason Polier along with speedsters Bryce Guerrant and Zavier Lomax. Polier rushed for 151 yards and four touchdowns in last week’s win over Letcher County Central.
Polier, an NCAA prospect, is also a leader on the defensive unit at linebacker, as is defensive back Antwun Jenkins.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
RIDGEVIEW’S ADKINS ADDS TO TOTALS
Ridgeview junior running back Trenton Adkins keeps enhancing his totals for the season.
Following another riveting performance last Friday against Wise Central, Adkins has 1,018 yards rushing and 17 touchdowns for the season. He has surpassed 4,200 rushing yards for his career and has seven regular-season games plus a likely postseason run left this season.
The VHSL record for most rushing yards in a single season is 3,603, set by Elijah Paris of Lynchburg’s Heritage in 2017. Former Powell Valley and University of Virginia star Thomas Jones, now an NFL Hall of Fame nominee, is second in that category with 3,319 yards from his 1994 season at Powell Valley.
Paris, with 59, also holds the VHSL mark for most touchdowns in a season.
Entering Friday night’s Mountain 7 matchup with Gate City, Adkins is averaging 339.3 yards rushing per game. If he continues at this pace, he would finish the regular season with 3,393 yards — a total that doesn’t include any postseason numbers.
He’s averaging 5.7 touchdowns per game, meaning that at that clip, Adkins would have close to 57 TDs at the end of the regular season.
The best defense for Gate City could be its grind-it-out offense in which senior Michael Calhoun gets the majority of the calls. Quarterback Luke Reed, backs D’Andre Mack and Carson Jenkins and receiver Jon Sallee also will figure in the mix.
Kickoff at Ridgeview is set for 7 p.m.
Several other games dot the map throughout Southwest Virginia, including a couple of key Cumberland District tilts that have Rye Cove playing at Thomas Walker and J.I. Burton visiting Twin Springs.
Other games around the region include Patrick Henry at Lee High, Virginia High at Wise Central, John Battle at Marion, Abingdon at Richlands, Eastside at Chilhowie, Twin Valley at Northwood, Rural Retreat at Galax, Grundy at East Ridge, Kentucky, and Hurley at Riverview, West Virginia.