Familiar face named defensive coordinator at Virginia-Wise

Kevin Mays • Jan 16, 2019 at 7:26 PM

Virginia-Wise’s football team will have a new defensive coordinator this season.

The position will be filled by a familiar face, however.

The Cavaliers announced this week that Chris Cunningham has been hired by head coach Dane Damron as the Cavs’ new defensive coordinator.

Cunningham, moves into the coordinator position after serving as linebacker coach last year for Virginia-Wise.

He replaces Shap Boyd, who resigned after last season to take a position as the new head coach at Erskine College in Due West, South Carolina.


Under Cunningham’s guidance, the Virginia-Wise linebacker corps recorded over 200 tackles and had more than 40 behind the line of scrimmage.

“I’m very excited to have Chris become our defensive coordinator. He is an extremely hard worker who loves the game of football,” Damron said. “Chris understands the standard that has been set on the defensive side of the ball. He embraces that and is ready to take it to the next level.”

Cunningham said he’s ready to get to work in his new position.

“I’m extremely excited about the opportunity to lead the UVa-Wise defensive unit,” said Cunningham. “We have young men on this defense that want to be great in all areas of life, and I will do everything I can to hold them to our program’s standard.

“We have a tremendous staff of coaches that are talented teachers and know how to get the best out of our young men on and off the field on a daily basis.”

Before coming to Virginia-Wise, Cunningham, a Miami native, spent three seasons as defensive line coach and special teams coordinator at NCAA Division III Lawrence University in Wisconsin.

Cunningham also worked previously as linebackers coach at the University of Pikeville and as defensive backs coach at Eastern Kentucky University.


Two more basketball players reached the personal milestone of surpassing the 1,000-point mark last week.

Both players come from the Cumberland District.

Eastside’s Ethan Powers went over the 1,000-point mark on Jan. 11 in the Spartans’ game against Rye Cove.

On the same night, just miles away in Norton, J.I. Burton’s Houston Thacker scored his 1,000th point in the Raiders’ district game against Thomas Walker.


The top of the rankings stays the same this week for Southwest Virginia’s boys, but there’s a change in the girls’ rankings.

Abingdon makes its way into the top six girls’ rankings after key wins over Gate City and Wise Central.

Here’s a look at the Top Six Picks for both boys and girls. Included is the team, last week's ranking and record.


1) Gate City (1) 12-2

2) Eastside (2) 14-1

3) Grundy (4) 12-1

4) Wise Central (6) 11-5

5) J.I. Burton (3) 10-4

6) Graham (5) 7-3


1) Lebanon (3) 12-2

2) Honaker (2) 12-2

3) Wise Central (1) 11-4

4) Ridgeview (4) 11-3

5) Abingdon (NR) 9-5

6) Gate City (5) 10-4

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