The Duke’s Preview: James Wood vs Handley featuring Coach Todd Wilson

Tonight’s High School Football Game of the Week on The River 95.3, Fox Sports Radio 1450, theriver953.com and the TuneIn Radio App features the 61st matchup between James Wood (2-2) and Handley (1-3).

This is one of the most anticipated games in the area every year thanks to one of the oldest rivalries.

This year’s installation will feature two head coaches looking to make their first mark in the rivalry.

Handley’s head coach Dan Jones is in his first year with the program after coaching at Sherando last season.

Todd Wilson has served on the Colonel’s coaching staff as the offensive line coach for the last 4 years before taking over the head job.

Coach Jones will bring with him a Handley offense that has explosive potential from numerous spots on the field.

Running Back Manno Lusca enters the game as one of the area’s leading rushers with 380 yards, 9.2 yards per carry, and six touchdowns, but he is just one of many players who could go the distance at any time.

Hassan Akanbi possesses track athlete speed and has already taken one catch 99 yards to the house this season.

Breylon Miller looks the part of a future Division I athlete at 6’6″ 218 lbs. and has stats to back it up.

Miller is second in receiving yards in the area with 264 yards off 12 receptions with two touchdowns.

James Wood’s defense looks to be up to the task, already having faced some of the best offenses in the area.

The Colonel’s limited the an explosive Brentsville offense to just one second half touchdown and forced two turnovers in that half.

They also contained last year’s state runner-ups, Kettle Run, on the first three drives forcing two turnovers and a turnover on downs.

Two leaders on that opportunistic defense include defensive back Justin Gwinner, the area’s leader in interceptions with 4, and linebacker Zack Smith, the area’s leading tackler with 46.

They will need to keep the explosive Handley offense in front of them and force a few turnovers to come away with the victory.

Handley must focus on efficiency inside the red zone and execution on special teams.

Last week the Judges were stuffed on numerous opportunities in the red zone.

I look forward to another  great installation of this rivalry which gave us a classic game as recently as last season when Handley came back from trailing 16-0 early and a 10 point deficit with 3:47 remaining to come away with a 37-30 win in overtime to clinch a playoff birth.

This will be another close game but Handley’s playmakers should help the Judges prevail on the road, 27-20.

Press play below for my interview with James Wood Head Coach Todd Wilson.

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.

The Duke’s Preview: Skyline vs James Wood featuring Coach Gilbert interview

Tonight’s Friday Night High School Football Game of the Week features the Skyline Hawks (0-1) coming off a bye week and the James Wood Colonels (1-1) who fell to Brentsville 41-7 last week.

Even though they have only played one game, Skyline had a lot to look back on from their first game against Strasburg.

Skyline had a few chances to win but self-inflicted mistakes like unsportsmanlike conduct penalties and turnovers led to them coming up short.

Aidan Vaught already looked to be in midseason form back at his more natural running back position piling up 133 yards and two touchdowns.

Vaught had a great game against James Wood last year when he had 133 yards and a passing and rushing touchdown.

He willed Skyline to victory on their final scoring drive rushing for 61 yards.

James Wood already is off to a better start to this season than last.

James Wood had to wait until October for their first win in 2022, but this year they took down Warren County in Week 1.

The Colonels shut out Warren County in the second half and played a strong second half against an explosive Brentsville offense, limiting them to one score and forcing two turnovers.

One of the players tasked with tracking down Vaught when James Wood’s defense is on the field is Zach Smith.

The All Region selection from 2022 has already shown his impact leading James Wood with 16 tackles and and interception against Warren County.

My prediction for the game is that Skyline will be able to use the extra week of preparation coming off the bye and the frustrations of letting one slip away against Strasburg to come up with the win tonight in another close game, final score Skyline 21-James Wood 13.

Tune into the action at Fox Sports Radio 1450 WFTR, The River 95.3, and streaming on theriver953.com and the Tune In Radio App.

To hear my interview with the Skyline Hawks Head Coach Heath Gilbert, press play below.

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.