HCFHPicks

Northeastern Conference

Sullivan East at Volunteer

Last meeting: Volunteer 41, Sullivan East 27 (Sept. 7, 2018, at Bluff City, Tenn.)

Volunteer plays its third straight home game, having followed up a win against Sullivan Central with a 48-19 loss last week to unbeaten David Crockett…The Patriots, who lost a one-point heartbreaker in its opener at Johnson County, were pounded 63-9 by highly-regarded Elizabethton..Sullivan East had won the three previous meetings with the Falcons before last season…Dylan White leads the Patriots in passing (103) and rushing (97) yards, while Blake Scher (7-48) is the leading receiver. Cameron Tolbert and Dustyn Knittel have 12 tackles apiece.

Prediction: Volunteer 23, Sullivan East 13.

Black Diamond District

Honaker at Twin Valley

Last meeting: Honaker 47, Twin Valley 8 (Sept. 7, 2018 in Honaker, Va.)

Honaker couldn’t hold a 17-6 halftime lead in a 26-24 loss to rival Castlewood last week. … Quarterback Levi Miller is sidelined indefinitely with an injury for the Tigers, which has hampered the passing game as one might expect. Trevor Dye, Travis Musick, Chandler Hubbard and Levi Glymp have been the leaders for the club, but the defensive effort must be more consistent. … Twin Valley took its first victory of the season last week, a 28-7 triumph over Montcalm. Quarterback Wade Cantrell has fared well in running the offense, while Xzavier Ward and Larry Justice are running hard out of the backfield. Defensively, Matt Lester and Dalton White have emerged as run-stoppers for the Panthers. … Honaker is 17-1 all-time against Twin Valley with the only setback to the Panthers coming in 2016.

Prediction: Honaker 28, Twin Valley 12

Cumberland District

Thomas Walker at Castlewood

Last meeting: Thomas Walker 24, Castlewood 0 (Sept. 7, 2018 in Ewing, Va.)

The intrigue has increased in this Cumberland District opener as Castlewood’s 26-24 upset of rival Honaker gave a boost to the Blue Devils. Thomas Walker coach Nick Johnson took notice. “Castlewood is coming off huge win in a rivalry game against Honaker,” Johnson said. “The single-wing offense they run is going to require us to play our assignments perfectly. Castlewood is aggressive on defense and plays very physical. We will have to play well in order to compete in a hostile environment.” … Jeremiah Allen has been a beast on defense for Castlewood, having racked up 32 tackles in the first two games. … Thomas Walker had a bye last week after opening the season with a win at Cumberland Gap on Aug. 30 … Zack Kidwell, Kenny Ball and Logan Ely got high marks offensively in that Week 1 win, while Jaron Warf, Jason Cowden and Zack Lowe led the defense. … This should be a close contest.

Prediction: Thomas Walker 23, Castlewood 22

Non-District

Lebanon at Grundy

Last meeting: Grundy 43, Lebanon 14 (Sept. 7, 2018 in Lebanon, Va.)

Grundy is 2-0, while Lebanon is 0-2. Still, this looks like it might be a close matchup. … Lebanon’s two losses have come to Honaker and Wise County Central as the Pioneers have put up just 21 points. … Grundy has wins over Twin Valley and River View (West Virginia) to its credit. … Alden Ward has racked up 24 tackles for Lebanon, while female kicker Carissa Johnson is 3-for-3 on extra point attempts. … Grundy freshman Ian Scammell has been impressive in his first two varsity games and forms a tough one-two combination in the backfield with Sage Keen. “Grundy is always well-coached and they always have a bunch of hard-nosed kids,” said Lebanon coach Michael Webb. “It will take a great effort to get a win.”

Prediction: Lebanon 14, Grundy 13

Patrick Henry at Hurley

Last meeting: First meeting

Both of these 2-0 teams are known as the Rebels and both have formidable rushing attacks. … Hurley is averaging more than 330 rushing yards through two games, while PH is putting up 388.5 yards per game on the ground. … Zach Brown and Cody Smith have piled up the yards for Patrick Henry, while the trio of Dustin Stinson, John Matt Justus and Matt Blankenship give Hurley a three-headed monster of rushers. … Caleb Walk has shined at tight end and on the defensive line for PH, while Ean Rhea and Chase Brown have played well on defense. … Austin Hagy has provided solid blocking up front for Hurley, while the Rebels from Buchanan County have gotten strong defensive efforts from Matt Justice, Jonathan Hurley and Jacob McClanahan. … While this is the first matchup between these schools on the gridiron, Hurley did beat Glade Spring in 1952, while splitting two matchups with Meadowview in 1952 and 1953 according to VHSL football research king Rick Baker. Glade Spring and Meadowview later consolidated to form Patrick Henry. … You can call PH the Road Warriors as today’s game at Hurley will be followed by a long trip to Lee High next week. That’s a lot of time on the bus. … The outcome of this game will tell a lot about both teams. “Hurley is a physical, experienced, senior-laden team that has the size and athletes to beat anyone they play,” said Patrick Henry coach Mark Palmer. “Traveling to play at the iconic Cliff will be a great experience and we will have to play our best game of the year to have a chance to win.”

Prediction: Patrick Henry 30, Hurley 20

Hancock County at Rye Cove

Last meeting: Rye Cove 28, Hancock County 8 (Sept. 7, 2018 in Sneedville, Tenn.)

Rye Cove has had a rough go of it. … First, the Eagles had their final preseason tune-up against Twin Springs shortened due to lightening. Then, the season-opener at Jenkins (Kentucky) was cancelled when the Cavaliers didn’t have enough healthy players. They finally opened the season last week with a 37-6 setback to Hurley. … The Eagles will get a boost from Mason Hardin returning to the lineup. … Hancock County is 2-1 with seniors Ethan Short and Preston Hatfield leading the way for a veteran club.

Prediction: Rye Cove 16, Hancock County 13

Twin Springs at North Greene

Last meeting: Twin Springs 43, North Greene 18 (Oct. 19, 2018 in Nickelsville, Va.)

The only triumph for Twin Springs in 2018 came with a beatdown of North Greene as Corbin Kilgore rushed for 101 yards and Mason Elliott threw two touchdown passes. … The Titans can double their win total from a year ago with a triumph this evening. … North Greene snapped a 20-game losing streak with a 32-20 season-opening win over Unaka. The Huskies have since dropped back-to-back games to Hancock County (42-8) and Unicoi County (65-6) and have dealt with some injury issues. … Wide receiver Ethan Atnip, defensive back Sky Arwood, two-way lineman Josiah Church, linebacker Garrett Johnson, defensive end Shane Cooter and running back/linebacker Tyler Sanches are among the playmakers for North Greene. … “Twin Springs is a tough, hard-nosed, well-coached football team,” said North Greene coach Andrew Murray. “They want to line up and pound you on offense and swarm to the ball on defense. They have some quick, good-sized backs that run behind some strong linemen with great feet. It will be a very physical football game between two teams trying to do similar things in terms of creating a strong culture for their football programs.”

Prediction: Twin Springs 39, North Greene 20

Grayson County at Rural Retreat

Last meeting: Grayson County 18, Rural Retreat 0 (Sept. 7, 2018 in Independence, Va.)

This very easily could’ve been a matchup between 2-0 clubs. … Rural Retreat (1-1) lost its season-opener by a 15-14 margin to Fort Chiswell, but bounced back with a 24-6 victory over Eastern Montgomery last week. … Grayson County (0-2) has suffered a 7-6 loss to Alleghany (North Carolina) and a 21-20 setback to Carroll County. … Rural Retreat coach Jamey Hughes likes what his defense is doing and the Indians will try to contain Devin Poe, Dawson Allen and Holden Cassell, Grayson County’s trio of playmakers. … This might be an old-fashioned Southwest Virginia smashmouth showdown and if the trend continues, it will be another close game.

Prediction: Grayson County 20, Rural Retreat 19

Marion at George Wythe

Last meeting: George Wythe 48, Marion 6 (Sept. 7, 2018 in Marion, Va.)

Cole Simmons-to-Braydon Thompson has become a popular phrase by the public address announcers on the microphone for George Wythe games. … Simmons has thrown for 599 yards and five touchdowns in two games as Thompson (12 catches, 426 yards, four TDs) has been his favorite target. … Marion spent its bye week stressing better ball security and open-field tackling. The Scarlet Hurricanes were plagued by poor execution in both areas in a season-opening 46-26 loss to Chilhowie. … Lineman Will Moss, wide receiver Devin Hamm, running back Zech Meade, lineman Justin Olinger and wide receiver Christian Hylton are the leaders for first-year Marion coach Tim Smith. … Simmons-to-Thompson could be the difference again tonight.

Prediction: George Wythe 31, Marion 22

J.I. Burton at Lee High

Last meeting: J.I. Burton 38, Lee 13 (Sept. 7, 2018 in Norton, Va.)

Lee High generated 381 total yards against Burton last season, but the Generals had no answer for the four TD passes thrown by Burton quarterback Houston Thacker. … Behind quarterback Tanner Laster, the Generals managed 181 total yards in the season opener against Union. Three turnovers helped spell doom a 41-7 loss. … Senior Mikey Culbertson led Burton last week against Chilhowie with 19 tackles while 6-1 senior receiver Najee Steele provided big plays and blocking. The Raiders (0-2) have lost Camden Kennedy for several weeks due to a fractured ankle.

Prediction: J.I. Burton 21, Lee High 7

Holston at John Battle

Last meeting: John Battle 37, Holston 20 (Sept. 7, 2018 in Damascus, Va.)

John Battle completed 13 of 15 passes and opened a 28-7 halftime advantage in this game last year, which featured a lengthy delay due to lightening. … Battle is coming off a landmark 12-7 victory over Bristol rival Virginia High as quarterback Walker Osborne, running back Dylan Cunningham and receiver Gabe Blaylock made plays. … Holston (2-0) is averaging 48 points. Austin Faris and Jordan Ezzel combined for 234 yards rushing last week while Brycen Sheets collected nine tackles and Jasper Henderson added 115 yards in kick returns.

Prediction: John Battle 17, Holston 0

Sullivan South at Gate City

Last meeting: Sullivan South 28, Gate City 13 (Sept 7, 2018 in Kingsport, Tenn.)

Gate City, which led 7-0 after the first quarter in this game last year, has authored the top story in far Southwest Virginia this season. Behind senior Michael Calhoun (6-0, 255), senior Levi Rhoton (5-6, 130) and sophomore Carson Jenkins (5-9, 145), GC averages 31 points and 327 yards rushing. … South (1-2) earned its first win last week with a 24-6 decision at Grainger. Quarterback Ethan Bergeron accumulated 230 total yards, Brody Ratliff added a TD reception and Eli Lacino supplied a field goal.

Prediction: Gate City 28, Sullivan South 17

Mount View, W.Va. at Tazewell

Last meeting: First meeting

After rushing for 473 yards in a season-opening win against Virginia High, the Bulldogs fell behind 31-0 at halftime against Graham last week en route to a 45-0 loss. Chancellor Harris (303 yards rushing) is off to a torrid start for the Bulldogs. … Mount View, which earned its first 10-win season since 2003 last year, opened this season with a 21-20 win over at Bradshaw before falling 48-7 at Man last week. Mount View head coach Larry Thompson resigned after last season to become head coach at Wyoming East. Thompson and citizens of Welch were featured in a 2018 segment of the popular CNN Series “Parts Unknown,” which examined the coal mining culture of McDowell County, West Virginia.

Prediction: Tazewell 35, Mount View 7

Non-Conference

Sullivan Central at Pigeon Forge

Last meeting: First meeting

These schools are both looking for their first wins of the season…Sullivan Central has scored 28 points in two games, but have allowed 36 and 37 in a pair of defeats…The Tigers are 0-3, scoring 15.3 points per game, but allowing 31, 28 and 38 points…The Cougars have started fast, leading Sullivan North 28-8 at halftime, and were up 14-13 in the opening half at Volunteer, but lost both of them..Pigeon Forge has lost 10 games in a row, dating back to the third week of last season…Can Sullivan Central finish in this one?

Prediction: Pigeon Forge 27, Sullivan Central 20.

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