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The Roanoke Times | File 2011
Floyd County QB Matt Bary
Thursday, August 29, 2013
Coach: Jack Turner (second season)
Last season: 0-10, 0-5 (did not make playoffs)
Returning offensive starters: 8
Returning defensive starters: 8
Players to watch: LT-DT Michael Hinkley (6-4, 292, sr.), QB-S Gabe Spencer (5-9, 185, sr.), OG-DE Josh Fleenor (6-2, 254, jr.), OLB Ethan Crockett (5-11, 179, soph.), CB Austin Crockett (5-11, 174, soph.), OT-DE Michael Boyd (6-1, 192, soph.), OG Derek McCroskey (5-10, 251, sr.), S-QB Justin Light (5-9, 158, soph.), FB-CB Nick Parcell (5-8, 169, sr.), LB-RB Luke Wilson (5-6, 154, sr.).
2012 summary: The Eagles faced myriad adjustments in Turner's first season, installing the wing-T offense, going back to elementary football fundamentals in every aspect, and trying to take a push broom to a losing culture. Players embraced weight training and conditioning like never before, raising optimism. The losing streak reached 39, but two of the losses were competitive.
Outlook: Auburn is starting to pass the eyeball test. Turner promised that his strength and conditioning regimen would start producing guys who look like athletes. That's been accomplished. Success in other Auburn boys sports - state semifinals in baseball, regional semis in basketball - has encouraged a can-do attitude. Spencer is an experienced and resourceful quarterback. Hinkley and Fleenor are going to clear some nice holes. Sophomore wingback Jordan Fleenor, and 188-pound freshman TB Jeremy Nelson will run over some people - when they figure out where the holes are. The offense is going to need some polish, but the losing streak should come to an end this year. Making the Group 1A West playoffs probably will have to wait.
Coach: Brian Lee (first season)
Last season: 4-7, 1-4 (lost in Division 1 West Section first round)
Returning offensive starters: 5
Returning defensive starters: 6
Players to watch: WR-CB Ron Ford (5-10, 158, jr.), RB-CB Daryl Manns (5-7, 146, soph.), WR-FS Alex Phillips (5-11, 141, jr.), FB-ILB Shane DeWeese (6-1, 225, sr.), OL-DL William Booher (5-7, 210, soph.), ILB-RB Dustin Sledd (5-9, 154, jr.), WR-OLB Cody Claxton (5-11, 205, sr.), QB-OLB Jesse East (5-11. 155, soph.), QB-DB Elliot Stigall (5-10, 160, soph.), OT-DE Franklin Vishneski (6-5, 169, sr.).
2012 summary: The Mustangs continued to throw with abandon in head coach Mark Poston's last season before he left for Nelson County. The same formula produced a berth in the 2010 Division 1 state final. Ford set a Timesland single-season record with 85 pass receptions. Graduated QB James Fields passed for 2,569 yards. Defense was severely lacking. In seven losses, EastMont surrendered more than 50 points four times.
Outlook: Eastern Montgomery hired Lee after he had stepped down as the head coach Thomas Walker, a small school in Lee County. He brings with him a new offense, the jet-sweep. Installation has gone smoothly. One advantage of the new set, big bodies up front are not a primary requirement for success. Fine. The Mustangs don't have many. Ford and similarly shifty but stockier Manns deploy in the slots. They'll be a handful. Ford's receiving numbers will go down, but he could have more touches as he and Manns become dual threats. A QB competition between East and Stigall marked the preseason. Another postseason berth probably will require five wins.
Coach: Winfred Beale (33rd season)
Record at Floyd County: 198-137-4
Last season: 7-4, 4-1 (lost in Division 2 West Section first round)
Returning offensive starters: 3
Returning defensive starters: 5
Players to watch: QB-CB Matt Bary (5-9, 148, sr.), SE-CB Brandon Simpkins (5-10, 156, sr.), OT-DT Jeffrey Keyton (6-4, 298, jr.), TB-ILB Tristan Vest (5-9, 177, sr.), OL-NG Noah Radford (5-10, 256, jr.), OG-DE Daryn Hughes (5-10, 214, soph.), TE-DE Christian Cromer (6-1, 210, jr.), WR-S Andy Thompson (5-8, 160, sr.), C-DL Christian Burnette (5-11, 189, jr.), TE-DE Michael Clemons (6-4, 220, soph.).
2012 summary: The Buffaloes probably played in the highest-scoring sets of games in Timesland. They scored at least 50 points in three of their wins and had 49 in another, Conversely, they gave up 63, 45 and 35 in three of their regular-season losses and another 63 to Riverheads in the playoffs. Graduated All-Timesland RB Dorian Harris rushed for 1,828 yards in 11 games.
Outlook: Floyd County has plenty of new faces. Bary was an injury replacement before taking over outright. Mobile and cool-headed, he threw for 1,138 yards and 14 TDs. VHSCA all-star receiver Cole Worrell graduated with 44 catches, but Simpkins and Thompson will handle things. Vest had eight sacks in 10 games in Floyd's gambling defense. The massive Keyton has started two ways since freshman season and can plug a hole defensively. Radford is another wide body at NG. The unit still has work to do. Their mandate: become more physical and tackle better. Playoffs look likely for the Buffaloes if they straighten some of this stuff out. If not, 10 games are all they'll get.
Coach: Jeff Williams (sixth season)
Record at Giles: 37-19
Last season: 10-2, 5-0 (lost in Division 2 West Section second round)
Returning offensive starters: 5
Returning defensive starters: 7
Players to watch: RB-DB Brett Whitlow (5-9, 159, sr.), RB-DB Dusty Boggess (6-0, 177, sr.), TE-DE Cody Rhodes (6-4, 265, sr.), G Hunter Epperley (5-11, 250, jr.), G Brandon Harless (5-9, 172, jr.), LB Jenson Doffin (6-0, 200, jr.), DL Brad Lipes (5-9, 255, sr.), DL Brody Dunford (5-9, 160, sr.), TB-DB Tyler Perdue (510, 175, sr.), DE Zach Simmons (5-10, 180, sr.).
2012 summary: The Spartans had won nine in a row, all with at least 41 points scored, before getting bushwhacked 37-14 by John Battle in the playoffs. That was the last game for Ian Mann, who finished with 2,328 yards and 37 TDs in 12 games in one of the greatest seasons ever for a RB at a school where big yards from the backfield have been routine. Whitlow added 1,208 yards in the single wing.
Outlook: Giles has a tradition of developing strong offensive linemen. So it sounds odd to say there are too many linemen this year. Raised eyebrows or not, eight skill position players on a 34-man roster are not enough to ward off the occasional sleepless nights at Spartans headquarters. No athletes of Mann's caliber are on hand, but Perdue, Whitlow and Boggess have skills. Boggess may be the team's most crucial individual. Usually the Spartans platoon as much as possible but Boggess, a two-way starter, won't be a candidate. Epperley started all 12 games as a sophomore. Doffin led the team in tackles last year as a sophomore. Giles will be back in the postseason, but Group 2A West is much tougher than it was in 2012.
Coach: Kevin Clifford (seventh season)
Record at Glenvar: 33-39
Last season: 5-6, 3-2 (lost in Division 2 West Section first round)
Returning offensive starters: 8
Returning defensive starters: 9
Players to watch: QB-CB Levi Mullins (5-10, 165, sr.). WR-CB Jeremy Martin (5-10, 150, sr.), TB-LB Tyler Smith (5-7, 225, jr.), RB-LB Bradley Muse (5-11, 190, sr.), DE-OG Jason Ford (5-11, 265, sr.), HB-SS Kyle Clifford (5-8, 175, sr.), OL-DL Tristian Crockett (5-10, 220, jr.), DE-OL Quintin Alls (6-3, 265, soph.), TE-LB Sam Shaffer (5-11, 190, sr.), TE-LB Hunter Lovelace (5-11, 205, sr.).
2012 summary: The Highlanders were shut down 40-0 by Wilson Memorial in the playoffs, but that didn't tell the story of Glenvar's offense. Prior, the Highlanders scored big even in losses. Mullins basically came out of nowhere and passed for 2,617 yards and 30 TDs for a non-spread power-running team. Shaq Bonds and Markel Jones are gone after combining for 106 catches and 1,896 yards.
Outlook: Glenvar returns 17 starters so there are reasons for optimism. Martin should be the No. 1 receiver after catching 30 passes last year, eight for TDs. Ford was a two-way All-Three Rivers lineman. Glenvar scored a smoking 365 points last season. The disturbing number is the 36.7 ppg. opponents averaged. Hoping to routinely outscore somebody is not a winning long-term game plan. The Highlanders have to be better stoppers. Meanwhile, the gas stays mashed. Look for Mullins to present even more of a threat as a runner. Understudies Zack Clifford and Jake Shaffer give Glenvar some of the best depth at that position around. Postseason threat? The Highlanders should be one of the 16 in Group 2A West.
Coach: Matthew Saunders (seventh season)
Record at Radford: 43-28
Last season: 3-8, 2-3 (lost in Division 1 West Section first round)
Returning offensive starters: 4
Returning defensive starters: 8
Players to watch: OT-LB Eric Benitez (5-11, 190, sr.), WR-CB R.J. Jordan (5-10, 165, sr.), WR-S D'Andre Cook (5-11, 185, sr.), QB-CB Marcus Finley (5-10, 150, soph.), FB-LB Isaiah Carter (5-4, 190, sr.), FB-LB Alex Wright (6-0, 180, sr.), DE Adam Turk (6-1, 180, sr.), DE Stewart Bell (6-4, 185, sr.), WR-S Matt Levison (5-8, 150, sr.), WR-CB D.J. Baylor (5-6, 130, fr.).
2012 summary: The Bobcats started 0-4, and lost their last four including a 41-7 drubbing by Clintwood in the playoffs. Other than a 16-14 loss to Virginia High and a 48-46 nailbiter against Glenvar, none of the other losses was within 10 points although Radford did give eventual Division 1 state champ George Wythe a scare. The wins were against Eastern Montgomery and a pair of 0-10 teams: Patrick County and Auburn.
Outlook: Radford's players don't need to be told that there's a fair amount to live down. The Bobcats will have something to say about whether last year was an anomaly or the start of something alarming. Benitez has been a tackling machine for the past two years. Wright and Turk also should emerge. Even at 5-4, Carter can play. Jordan and Cook will run hard, fast also. Watch for Baylor. Finley, the point guard on Radford's state championship basketball team, will look to dazzle at QB. The first four games on the schedule are very challenging, but Radford almost certainly will make the Group 1A West playoffs.
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