SABF announces selections for the Sports Hall of Fame

The Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival announced two selections for the Apple Blossom Sports Hall of Fame, Chris Graber and Jimmy Omps.

Both were selected for their leadership dedication, passion, and contributions to youth and sports throughout the region and beyond.

Graber graduated from Handley in 1975 after a decorated athletic career.

She became the school’s first female state champion after winning the girls title her senior year

She went on to play tennis collegiately at Radford.

Then she began coaching and led Radford High School to state championships in girls basketball and girls tennis.

Graber later became the first female athletic director in Rockingham and Frederick counties.

Another Handley Alum, Jimmy Omps graduated in 1953 and then began his long career at the school in 1959 after attending college, a brief stint teaching in West Virginia, and time in the National Guard.

At Handley he served as a basketball coach, Athletic Director, Director of Student Activities and much more.

He was the first person selected for the school’s hall of fame as an athlete and coach.

Graber and Omps will be inducted as the 4th Hall of Fame class during the Sports Breakfast.

To view the festival’s announcement, click here.

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Jon Huertas named SABF Grand Marshall

The Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival announced this year’s Grand Marshall, Jon Huertas.

The actor, director, and producer will return to Winchester, his hometown, where he graduated from John Handley High School in 1987.

Jon is best known for his roles as Miguel Rivas in the award winning NBC series This Is Us and Detective Javier Esposito in the hit dramedy Castle.

He also served in the Air Force for 8 years and drew inspiration from his experiences during his stand-out performance as Sgt. Poke in the HBO series Generation Kill.

As a filmmaker, he has directed numerous television episodes, short films, and music videos.

He is currently preparing for his debut as a feature film director with Rock Bottom Express and Defenses.

During the festival, Jon will attend the Queen’s Coronation, and both parades.

To view the full announcement, click here.

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

The Duke’s Hoops Preview: Millbrook vs Handley doubleheader

Millbrook hosts Handley in a boys and girls basketball doubleheader tonight for Fox Sports Radio 1450 WFTR’s Game of the Week.

Pregame coverage for the girls will start at 5:50 pm with the boys following at roughly 7:20 pm on Fox Sports Radio 1450 WFTR, theriver953.com and the Tune In Radio App.

As always, ladies first! Millbrook is coming off a convincing win over James Wood on Monday night.

We were on-hand that evening which saw Millbrook come out to a 15-2 lead at the end of the 1st quarter following 12 consecutive missed shots by James Wood.

Millbrook never took their foot off the gas with steady defensive pressure and dominating the boards with a 21 rebound advantage.

Jaliah Jackson returned from missing the last four games and looked strong finishing with 20 points, 10 rebounds, 8 steals, and 3 blocks.

When the Handley girls enters Millbrook tonight, they bring with them a 6-0 record and look to be the most improved team in the area, boys or girls.

Under Head Coach Katlyn Orndorff, the Judges advanced from a 1-22 season in ’21-’22 to an 8-15 mark last year and have continued that trend.

This year’s squad features two newcomers from Spring Mills (WV), Corrin and Reagen Edsall.

Corrin is a senior guard who has paced the Judges in scoring this season with a dangerous deep ball.

The Shepherd commit is coming off a 21 point performance against Liberty in the Judges 82-28 win.

Now as we head to the backend of the doubleheader, both boys teams are coming off wins while Handley looks to keep their foot on the gas and Millbrook hopes they have turned the corner under first year head coach and local basketball guru Erick Green Sr..

Zach Harrell-Zook may not have the name recognition as Green but he is building a force at the crown jewel of Winchester Public Schools.

Handley looks to compete for a state championship this year and has a blend of experienced players and youth with limitless potential.

Freshman guard Will Braun-Duin has taken the basketball scene by storm and already drawn Division I looks.

Braun-Duin is a lights-out three point shooter and listed at 6’2″.

He has led the Judges in scoring during most of their games with his career high of 31 coming in a recent outing against Sherando.

Kyren Oglesby, a 6’4″ sophomore guard, has also received attention from scouts for his impressive frame, ability to finish through traffic, and defensive effort.

The Pioneers are still adjusting to the new scheme put into place by Green but looked strong on Monday against James Wood.

Millbrook was able to limit James Wood star forward Ashton Kees effectiveness, especially in the first half.

A concerning stretch in the third period saw Millbrook go scoreless for over 4 minutes and a similar stumble could be all that Handley needs to put a game out of reach.

Guard Chase Ford started the game on the bench for the Pioneers after missing practice to commit to Bridewater for baseball.

He still led the team with 19 points and 10 rebounds.

I predict a Handley sweep on the road tonight against Millbrook.

The Handley girls have basically put opponents away in the first quarter in most of their games so Millbrook will need to weather that early storm to maintain confidence they can hang with the Northwestern District front runner but the Edsall sisters and company should have too much fire power, Judges 65- Pioneers 44.

The Handley boys have obliterated local competition with their closest game coming in a 7 point win over Spottswood, a state quarterfinalist last season.

The Judges depth, athleticism, and pure talent with future Division I athletes should allow them to secure a victory, but could be without 6’6″ forward Breylon Miller as he has missed time due to an injury.

The Judges should be able to adapt and have enough depth to make up for one player and roll to a victory, Judges 82- Pioneers 62.

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

Patsy Cline Theater hosts mental health and substance abuse program

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Winchester Public Schools and the WISH (Winchester investing in Student Mental Health) Program are partnering with the Northwestern Community Services Board to host a special program for families on substance use prevention and mental health.

The event will be held at the Patsy Cline Theater of Handley High School tonight from 5:30-7:00.

The discussion will feature Stephen Hill, best selling author, recovery coach, defense attorney, and founder of Speak Sobriety, as he shares his inspiring comeback story as a young person in recovery.

His story was the main feature in Surviving the Hill, a documentary on the drug epidemic focused on prevention and recovery.

Through knowledge from his personal experiences, Hill shows families how to build resilient children who can make healthy choices and overcome adversity.

He will visit students at Handley and Daniel Morgan Middle School during the school day, with the presentation this evening serving as a follow-up.

Families are encouraged to attend the program together and have a meaningful conversation about the message and lessons from Hill’s journey.

For more information on the program, click here.

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

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.

Handley High School’s alumni speaker series

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Handley High School’s Alumni Speaker Series will be hosting Jimmy (’86) and Braden Robertson (’21) on August 16th at 6:30 pm in the Handley Robinson Auditorium (100 W. Piccadilly St., Winchester).

The father and son duo will be sharing their “Experience Along the Appalachian Trail: A Father & Son Trek”.

They will show photographs, maps, gear and tell their story about situations and the people they encountered on the 2200-mile hike.

This is a free event, share with your friends and family.

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

Sports: Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Sports update on Handley’s Michael Brown signing a professional contract to play basketball in Croatia, Valley League Baseball, Nationals, and the Orioles.

Jeimer Candelario’s home run call on Fox Sports Radio 1450 WFTR.

Keibert Ruiz’s two run homer to make extend the lead to 7-3 on 1450.

Former Handley basketball star signs professional contract

Former John Handley High School basketball standout Michael Brown signed a one year contract to play professionally for GKK Sibenka Sibenk of the Croatian Premijer League.

Brown recently graduated from Mount Olive where he played Division II basketball.

He had a strong start to his collegiate career earning conference freshman of the year and continued his success through his senior year.

Last season he was named a 3rd team all American and first team all conference and all region which helped him gain the attention of professional teams.

In the Croatian Leagues’ standings, Sibenka finished in the middle of the pack of 12 teams.

They look to take a step forward with Brown, who will be one of three Americans on the roster.

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

Winchester Public Schools expands walk zones

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Winchester Public Schools will join numerous departments across the country with expanded Walk Zones for the upcoming school year in response to the ongoing bus driver shortage.

Households included in the Walk Zones will get to school by either walking, biking, or riding with a family member.

The change will primarily impact students at Virginia Avenue and Quarles and a smaller group at Daniel Morgan and Handley.

The areas chosen have safe walking paths, sidewalks, and crosswalks while avoiding four lane roads and train tracks.

The City of Winchester is also working with the school district to employ additional Crossing Guards and add crosswalks and signage.

If you have questions or concerns, WPS is hosting two Transportation Walk and Talks at 6:30 pm on July 19th at Quarles Elementary and on July 20th at Virginia Avenue.

Students with an IEP requiring transportation will still be able to take the bus.

For more information on the Walk Zones, click here.

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

Handley hosts 100th Anniversary Kick Off Program next week

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John Handley High School is hosting a Cornerstone Commemoration as part of their 100th Anniversary Kick Off Program on Tuesday, June 13th.

The event is open to the public and free of charge.

Pre-event tours and exhibits begin at 1 PM, featuring special guests, a video, the unveiling of a new Eugene Smith painting of Handley, and a look back at the original cornerstone laying in 1923.

At 2 PM, a Processional resembling the original Cornerstone-Laying parade will make its way to the site of the new Centennial Stone.

A reception will follow where guests can browse Handley 100th merchandise and sign an attendance book included in the time capsule that will be buried at the end of the celebration year.

For more information on the event, click here.

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