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Greetings from The Booth!
It’s hard to believe that this is the penultimate week in the high school football regular season. The leaves are starting to fall like rain and soon the air will be much colder, the trees will be bare, and a few of our area teams will be trying to bring home VHSL trophies. It’s been an interesting season, with teams like Luray and Handley getting out of the gate with 6-0 and 5-0 starts, respectively, then coming back to earth in recent weeks. Luray still sits in good shape in Region 2B, while the Judges will probably need to win their final 2 games and hope for some things to fall their way for a Region 4C spot. In the VHSL ratings system, more weight is placed on the quality of wins, as opposed to quantity of victories. Thus, 2-6 James Wood Colonels are still mathematically alive for a postseason spot.
I’ll make mention of Millbrook, who would be a very dangerous draw for a playoff team who would have precious little time to prepare for a Pioneers single-wing attack that amassed 530 rushing yards last Friday against Liberty. And Sherando looks solid after running an early gauntlet against Berkeley County (WV) teams. At 5-3, the Warriors are in good shape for a postseason berth after winning 3 of their last 4 games.
The top team in the area to me is Class 2 Strasburg, who has yet to lose on the field, and has ripped off 7 straight wins heading into this Friday’s game at home versus Page County. The big challenge for the Rams is to focus on Page and not look too far ahead to the season finale at Woodstock Central, themselves an area power at 7-1. The aforementioned game against Central could very well be for a district title.
And then there’s (death, taxes, and) Clarke County, who have ripped off 4 straight wins after an early season home shutout loss to Strasburg. The perennial playoff mainstays are getting healthy at the right time, and the Eagles will pose a threat to any first round opponent.
Finally, a feel-good story is the Warren County Wildcats, who are 4-4, and if the season ended today, would be in the playoffs in Region 3. The Cats got off to a slow start, but have been building momentum, and are playing well when it counts. It certainly looks like there may be some extra meaning in their finale with rival Skyline, and both schools could very well host first round playoff games, which would make for a very busy November day in Front Royal. It’s going to be an interesting 2 weeks, and I can’t wait to see how it plays out!
Until the next visit from The Booth…enjoy the games this Friday (and Thursday)…and be true to your school!
Greetings From The Booth!
Some sad news from The Booth to report. Former WUSA9 sportscaster Ken Mease passed away recently. He was 80, and according to family members, had been suffering from dementia. Which would certainly explain why we didn’t see Ken at this year’s Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival, where he was inducted into the SABF Sports Hall Of Fame. In addition to being a solid sportscaster on Channel 9 in DC, Mease was the longtime MC at the Apple Blossom Sports Breakfast, and was deserving of his HOF honor.
There are two kinds of Festival celebrities: those who fly or drive in, fulfill their obligations to the bare minimum, and head back out of town. I won’t name names. And there are those who fall in love with the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival and the Winchester area, and want to soak up all the vibe of the Bloom. Ken Mease was one of the latter. He came to embrace the Festival, and was a big part of it every year. Because of conflicting obligations, I’ve never attended a Sports Breakfast, but I had the pleasure of hearing Ken speak at some other Bloom events at which he made appearances. Over the years, he became one of us. We lift our pink and green cups to Ken Mease! He will be missed.
Changing gears, the high school football season kicked off this past Friday, with one notable exception. The Skyline Hawks were scheduled to play the Strasburg Rams in the opener for both teams. However, the game didn’t happen, because of some social media posts that threatened the safety of fans at Proctor Field in Strasburg. Details are still coming in, and local law enforcement are still investigating. Suffice it to say that officials made the right call to cancel the game, erring on the side of safety. That should always be the priority.
It’s a sad commentary that we live in an age where someone can shut down a sporting event with a negative social media post. Players on both teams had prepared all Summer (and longer) for what should have been a special night. The high school football schedule is just 10 games long, and for seniors especially, each one is precious. Now, it’s simply an unplayed game they can’t get back.
There are those who blame the worlds ills on social media. I say it’s simply a medium through which both good and evil flow. Social media has connected us in ways we would not have thought possible 40 years ago. It has also been a conduit for hate, bullying, and worse. We must all have our radar up so that our teams and fans can safely enjoy football on a Friday night.
Anything less is unacceptable.
Until the next time from the Booth…be safe, be diligent, and be true to your school!
In our latest Sports Dogs Podcast, we chat with Strasburg HS Head Football Coach Mark Roller, who is preparing his Rams for the season opener Friday night against Skyline. Roller, in his 15th season at Strasburg, talks about his returning core players, has a scouting report on the Hawks, and talks about the challenges of fathering and coaching his son, who is also the QB of the team…
It’s almost time for the Friday Night Lights to shine on our area high school football teams, and The River 95-3 and Sports Radio 1450 kick off the season August 26th as Skyline visits Strasburg. In this edition of the Sports Dogs Podcast, R-Dog chats with Head Hawk Heath Gilbert about the team, as it prepares for the Rams…