The Duke’s Playoff Preview: Strasburg vs Central featuring Coach Roller

For the sixth time in the last three years, Central (11-0) and Strasburg (8-2) meet on the gridiron; this time in the second round of the VHSL playoffs.

In their first meeting this year, Central emerged victorious and claimed the Bull Run District Championship with a 28-7 win.

That game was closer than the final score implies as Central added a few late scores.

Strasburg had numerous opportunities in that game to put points on the board where they came up short and a few defensive plays that allowed 4th down conversions.

If Strasburg can correct those mistakes, they will be able to go toe-to-toe with one of the most dominant teams in Virginia over the last two years in Class 2 football, the Central Falcons.

Central has not lost since last year’s State Championship against Graham and has looked to be on a mission to get back to Salem.

The Falcon’s dynamic running game was too much for the Rams in the last matchup which allowed star running back Tyler Forbes to reach 164 yards and Jacob Williams-Warner to reach 140 yards on two carries.

Forbes recently claimed the Central High School career rushing record in the first round matchup against Stuarts Draft when he passed Johnnie Williams with 3,308 yards.

Central’s gameplan will once again revolve around Forbes and his bruising style, but they have shown some big play capability through the air as the season has progressed.

Both team’s have been dominant in the trenches and it will basically be a Bull Run All District All Star game between both team’s lines.

The more physical team who can limit mistakes will win the game.

Strasburg has a nasty taste in their mouth after losing to Central in last year’s playoffs and in the regular season finale, but the Falcons playoff experience and home field advantage should give them the boost they need to get past the Rams in a tight one, 22-14.

Press play below for my interview with Strasburg Head Coach Mark Roller.

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

The Duke’s Preview: Clarke County vs Central featuring Coach Casey Childs

The battle of the unbeatens is finally here.

Central (5-0) will travel to Berryville for their 4th consecutive road game to take on Clarke County (5-0) for our Game of the Week on The River 95.3, Fox Sports Radio 1450, and the Tune In Radio App.

The last few matchups in the series have been instant classics and this game looks to fit the same mold.

Last year, Clarke County took an early 14-0 lead, but Central made a comeback moving Tyler Forbes (121 yards and two touchdowns) from fullback to tailback to win 21-14.

Forbes would stay put as the lead back for the rest of the season, and Central advanced all the way to the state championship game using the same formula of a hard nosed rushing attack and stifling defense.

This year looks to be a lot more of the same as they are off to a hot start with some quality wins and players like Forbes and defensive end Nathan Lopez (52 tackles and 4 sacks) picking up where they left off last season.

Central’s passing game looks to have taken a step back with quarterback Nick Barahona completing just 9 passes and one touchdown through the air to his receiving corps which features mainly underclassmen.

The Falcons will meet a Clarke County team that has made huge strides this season after a difficult year in 2022 plagued by injuries.

Clarke County is led by an experienced offensive line (four seniors, one junior) and a variety of gifted backs including Will Booker, Wyatt Palmer, and Carson Rutherford, who may be available Friday night for the first time since the King William game on September 1st.

Booker has been featured heavily the past few games including a 25 carry, 145 yard, and two touchdown performance against Catoctin last week.

Defensively, the Eagles have been stout allowing just 8.2 points per game and 111.8 yards per game.

They have also been opportunistic in forcing turnovers.

Basketball standout Moses Day has adapted quickly to the gridiron and had two interceptions against Catoctin from his defensive back position.

This game will truly come down to execution and limiting turnovers, but I believe Clarke County’s edge in team speed, experienced skill players, and a rowdy Feltner Stadium crowd will give the Eagles the victory, 26-21.

Press play below to hear my full interview with Clarke County Head Coach Casey Childs.

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

Avoiding The Gatorade Bath

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Greetings From The Booth!

Well, the booth for me this Saturday (12-10) will be the press box at City Stadium in Salem (Va.) as I, along with my broadcast partner Ryan Rutherford, get to call the VHSL Class 2 Championship Game between the Woodstock Central Falcons and the Graham G-Men from Bluefield. For me it’ll be my fifth state title game as a play-by-play announcer, having called the Handley Judges championships in 1984 and 1994, and Sherando’s 2 title game appearances in ’95 and ’96. It’s a huge thrill to broadcast a state championship game, knowing that you’re painting the picture for lots of folks back home that can’t be at the game, some hanging on every word.

This time we head to the former site of the NCAA Division-III championship game, the Stagg Bowl, and there’s some irony in that. In my 22 years broadcasting college football, I always dreamed having our local team go the Stagg Bowl and calling the game, but that never happened.

Anyway, win or lose on Saturday, it’s been a memorable season for the Falcons. Last year, Central just missed getting to the promised land, losing in the state semifinal to eventual champion King William. This season, the Falcons fought their way back to the state semis, where they took care of the unfinished business from 2021, beating Poquoson 37-10. Now, they must defeat an undefeated Graham team that also has unfinished business, having lost to King William in last year’s title game.

For a further breakdown of Saturday’s Class 2 Final, I’ll direct you to the Podcast section of this very website, where you can navigate to The Sports Dogs Podcast. What I wanted to do in this post is share a great video from the end of last weekend’s Central semifinal win over the Islanders. I guess the Gatorade bath has become somewhat cliche in sports, but it’s still fun to see a team trying to be clandestine and sneak big tubs of the sports drink close to the head coach and then soak him.

Falcon’s Coach Mike Yew was too smart for that. In an interview this week with Yew, he indicated that because of high blood pressure, he preferred not to have the Gatorade dumped on him (this coming from a man who superstitiously wears cargo shorts on the sideline regardless of the weather conditions). In the waning moments of Central’s win, he either knew it was coming or was tipped off, and an assistant got the bath instead.

Should the Falcons win the state title this Saturday, I have a feeling Yew won’t mind “taking one for the team.”

Enjoy the video…and from high above the field at Salem City Stadium…GO FALCONS!


Yew Gatorade