picks

Black Diamond District

Hurley at Twin Valley

Last meeting: Hurley 12, Thomas Walker 6 (Nov. 1, 2018 in Hurley, Va.)

Three straight losses have doomed Hurley’s playoff hopes. The 16 seniors on the Rebels’ roster will try to go out winners against their Buchanan County rivals. … Hurley holds a 13-5 edge in the all-time series. … This is the third straight losing season for Twin Valley, which is allowing 36.2 points per game. … Look for John Matt Justus, Chad Justice and John A. Justus to serve the Rebels well in this one.

Prediction: Hurley 55, Twin Valley 8

Cumberland District

Castlewood at Eastside

Saturday, 3 p.m.

Last meeting: Eastside 28, Castlewood 8 (Nov. 2, 2018 in Castlewood, Va.)

The outcome of this game will decide a lot in terms of playoff seeding, but folks will have to wait until Saturday afternoon to see how things shake out since this game was rescheduled. … Castlewood has the inside track to the fourth seed in the Region 1D playoffs and that speaks to the excellent coaching job Chris Lark has done in his first season on the job. … Linebacker/running back Jeremiah Allen is the star for Castlewood, while freshman linebacker Brad Steffey and ninth-grade offensive lineman Hunter Neece have stepped up to play big roles for the Blue Devils. … Eastside is dangerous as Grayson Whited is a gamebreaker and linebacker Evan Bellamy is a tackling machine. … This might be this weekend’s most intriguing matchup.

Prediction: Castlewood 30, Eastside 29

J.I. Burton at Thomas Walker

Last meeting: J.I. Burton 42, Thomas Walker 0 (Nov. 2, 2018 in Norton, Va.)

The J.I. Burton Raiders can clinch the Cumberland District title and run their winning streak to eight games with a win. … Mikey Culbertson rushed for two touchdowns last season in Burton’s triumph over Thomas Walker. He has been his reliable self in 2019, rushing for 696 yards and scoring a team-high 96 points. Offensive lineman Josiah Kyle and linebacker Jayquan Frazier have been among the unsung heroes to step and play well for Burton. … Thomas Walker has lost two straight and has slid down the VHSL playoff power points rating scale. Inconsistency has been a problem for the Pioneers, while injuries haven’t helped either. Center Dakota Stables and linebacker Gage Thomas missed the previous two games for TW while hobbled.

Prediction: J.I. Burton 44, Thomas Walker 16

Rye Cove at Twin Springs

Last meeting: Rye Cove 28, Twin Springs 8 (Nov. 2, 2018 in Clinchport, Va.)

Twin Springs needs a triumph and a lot of help to secure a playoff bid. Regardless, a victory would give the Titans their first winning season since 2010. … Rye Cove beat Twin Springs for the first time since 2011 last season as Mason Hardin rushed for 133 yards. A win tonight for the Eagles would mean a 5-5 record and their first non-losing season since 2011. … Newcomers Ashton Starnes and Caleb Starnes have turned out to be major contributors for Rye Cove. … Twin Springs senior Corbin Kilgore eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark last Friday for the Titans. He can be part of another milestone this week.

Prediction: Twin Springs 29, Rye Cove 27

Mountain 7 District

Abingdon at Lee High

Last meeting: Abingdon 26, Lee High 8 (Nov. 2, 2018 in Abingdon, Va.)

Abingdon rushed for 295 yards and allowed just 24 total yards en route to clinching the district with the victory over Lee High last season. … AHS dropped a 28-21 double overtime decision to Union last week. While the Falcons missed a chance to tie for the district title, sophomore Malique Hounshell rushed for a career-best 125 yards and the defense held Union to a total of 240 yards. … Not much has gone right for Lee High this season on offense, defense or special teams.

Prediction: Abingdon 42, Lee High 0

Southwest District

Lebanon at Tazewell

Last meeting: Lebanon 35, Tazewell 12 (Nov. 2, 2018 in Lebanon, Va.)

Lebanon running back Seth Stanley (Emory & Henry) capped his prep football chapter in style last season against Tazewell. He accounted for 284 yards and four scores on 46 carries as the Pioneers rushed for a total of 376 yards. … Lebanon created a stir last week against Richlands. After three quarters, the teams were locked in a 7-7 tie. Powerful Logan Smith, who rushed for 122 yards last week, has nine touchdowns for the Pioneers while Casey White has thrown for eight scores. …. Despite losing its top two running backs to injury in Chancellor Harris and Mike Jones, Tazewell has averaged 51 points the past two games behind speedy Josiah Jordan. Tazewell lost five fumbles against Lebanon last season.

Prediction: Tazewell 32, Lebanon 13

Virginia High at Richlands

Last meeting: Richlands 17, Virginia High 14 overtime (Nov. 2, 2018 in Bristol, Va.)

Last year’s setback to Richlands left a bitter taste for Virginia High fans. VHS built a 14-0 halftime advantage and led until the 2:37 mark of regulation when Richlands forced a 14-14 tie on a 58-yard TD pass. As a result of that setback, VHS was forced to travel to eventual state champ Graham for a first round playoff game. … Logan Steele leads Richlands with 843 yards rushing. Cade Simmons has thrown for 1,173 yards, while Sage Webb has 33 receptions for 509 yards. … The Virginia High roster is small due to injuries and defections, but sophomore running back Stevie Thomas has been relentless en route to rushing for over 1,000 yards and scoring 99 points.

Prediction: Richlands 38, Virginia High 7

Non-District

Rural Retreat at George Wythe

Last meeting: George Wythe 41, Rural Retreat 34 (Nov. 2, 2018 in Rural Retreat, Va.)

George Wythe is in the midst of its 23rd straight winning season and the Maroons have already clinched a playoff berth for the 13th consecutive year. … GW will try to keep another impressive streak going tonight as the Maroons go for their 15th straight win over Wythe County rival Rural Retreat. … A touchdown run by Cole Simmons with 2:11 remaining clinched George Wythe’s win over the Indians last season. No such late-game drama will be needed this time around.

Prediction: George Wythe 49, Rural Retreat 18

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