Tristan Overbay of Lord Botetourt High School with the ball. Courtesy of the school.

Jamie Harless, the football coach at Lord Botetourt, has the distinction of being a member of the Emory & Henry Sports Hall of Fame.

That’s not all he has going for him, especially after Lord Botetourt knocked off host Riverheads High School 35-21 this past Friday, ending the opponent’s 52-game winning streak, which was tied for the state record with Phoebus of Hampton.

It was also the longest active winning streak for high schools in the country.

“I think everybody knew that they were moving toward breaking the state record,” Harless said this week.  

Riverheads had beaten Lord Botetourt 62-38 in Daleville in 2021 and has won six straight state titles.

“We were a hot mess,” Harless said. “The kids were embarrassed by it last year. I was embarrassed.”

Last week’s game won’t be forgotten.

“I think, for a regular-season game, it’s definitely near the top,” he said. “It’s not a state title game. It’s not a semifinal. It’s a very high-quality win, though. I don’t foresee Riverheads losing another game.

“The big thing about beating a team like Riverheads is, it helps you in the playoffs with your power points. To me, that’s the most significant aspect of it. If you’re beating good teams, your points are going to dictate your destiny.”

Botetourt is preparing for another state power, Appomattox, a five-time state champion.

“I don’t know how smart my scheduling philosophy was on me,” Harless said. 

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Recruiting season

The basketball recruiting cycle is well underway for the class of 2023, with Virginia having taken an oral commitment this week from Elijah Gertrude, a 6-foot-3 shooting guard from Jersey City, N.J.

The addition of Gertrude, now rated among the top 40 prospects in the nation by at least one respected service, comes one week after the loss of one UVa target, TJ Bower, who picked Duke over the Cavaliers.

Doug Smith, who played at Virginia from 1990-93 and resides in the New York area, continues to follow the UVa program and its recruiting. 

“He’s [Gertrude’s] crazy athletic, like we haven’t seen at UVa,” Smith said. “He does really hard things very easily. He’s a great kid and comes from a great family and will work very hard at UVa to round his game out.

“He could become one of the very best defenders we have ever had at Virginia. His upside is unlimited.”

The other player to commit to UVa for the class of 2023 is 6-9 Blake Buchanan from Coeur D’Alene, Idaho. In all likelihood, he would become the first player from Idaho to choose the UVa program, although UVa coach Tony Bennett coached in the adjoining state of Washington and brought in heralded Washington native Joe Harris, who claims to be 100 percent for the Brooklyn Nets this year after missing most of last season to injury.

Doug Doughty

Doug Doughty has been writing for more than 50 years starting as a high school student in Washington, D.C., through his undergraduate years at the University of Virginia, and 47 years at the Roanoke Times...