The Martinsville Bulldogs. Courtesy of Martinsville High School.

In the NFL in 2022, it appears defenders no longer can tackle a quarterback without a yellow flag.

At the Cardinal News headquarters located somewhere between Eagle Rock and Big Island, we are allowed to tackle the ins and outs of the VHSL Rating Scale points as the high school football season enters its final month.

Four weeks remain in the regular season. Teams outside the top eight still have time to make up ground, a Hail Mary could be in order for more than a few contenders.

We will take down this week’s numbers.

Please, no flags for roughing.

1Thomas Dale6-0618239.33
2Oscar Smith5-0515030.00
4Western Branch6-1720028.57
5Franklin County4-2617028.33
6Floyd Kellam3-3613923.17
t8James River-Midlothian2-4613222.00
10Ocean Lakes1-6713419.14

Region 6A outlook: Franklin County narrowly avoided a home loss to Staunton River on Friday that would have all but doomed the Eagles’ hopes of a top four seed and a first-round home playoff game. As it is, Franklin County probably is a longshot to finish fourth or better. The Eagles have three of their final four games on the road including this Friday at fast-improving William Byrd and Oct. 29 at Lord Botetourt. However, the leaders also have potential hurdles. Thomas Dale finishes against unbeaten Dinwiddie. Manchester hosts unbeaten Midlothian this week. Oscar Smith still has games against No. 4 Western Branch and unbeatens Phoebus and King’s Fork. Cosby and James River-Midlothian figure to battle for the No. 8 spot. At this point, James River might have a slight edge partly thanks to its 17-14 overtime win over Cosby in Week 3.

1Stone Bridge6-1720729.57
2Mountain View6-0617629.33
5Patrick Henry5-1615225.33
8Briar Woods4-3717124.43
9Brooke Point2-4613422.33
11Potomac Falls2-4612120.17
13William Fleming2-4611619.33
15North Stafford0-7712117.29

Region 5D outlook: Northern Virginia was rocked Friday by Freedom-Woodbridge’s 112-16 victory over Colgan as the halftime score was an inconceivable 91-0. Freedom is Class 6 so no Region 5D team has to worry about the Eagles, who already have pinned a 74-0 loss on Riverbend, the No. 3 team here. Patrick Henry is poised to grab a spot in the top four but nothing likely will be decided until the final Friday. On Nov. 4, PH plays Salem at home, while No. 1 Stone Bridge visits No. 4 Independence, and No. 2 Mountain View hosts No. 3 Riverbend. One interesting event took place Tuesday, when VHSL executive director Billy Haun invoked a little-used rule mandating No. 6 Albemarle and Orange County to make up the game that was originally canceled two weeks ago. It will take place Oct. 18. Stafford or one of the teams with a 2-4 record hopes to move into the top eight. That group includes William Fleming, which has a must-win game at home Friday against Lord Botetourt.

2E.C. Glass5-1615325.50
3Louisa County7-0717625.14
4Orange County4-1511723.40
5Amherst County5-1613722.83
6Jefferson Forest3-3612722.17
7Halifax County3-3612520.83
8Western Albemarle3-3611919.83
9Pulaski County3-3611819.67
10George Washington2-4611018.33
11Mecklenburg County1-5610417.33

Region 4D outlook: The top three teams are separated by less than half a point. Will it stay a three-horse race? The answer likely won’t come until at least Week 10 when E.C. Glass plays at Brookville. Orange County could jump back in the picture with a win over Albemarle in an Oct. 18 makeup game. Glass’ remaining high-end Seminole District schedule might give the Hilltoppers an edge, with the caveat that a 9-1 final record and a victory over unbeaten Liberty Christian are required. Salem and Patrick Henry appear headed for a Nov. 4 showdown in the River Ridge District. Louisa still has once-beaten Albemarle at home Oct. 28. The battle for the No. 8 spot might be as interesting as the race for No. 1. Pulaski County, at a minimum, will need to win two of its final four games against Blacksburg, Graham, Patrick Henry and Christiansburg. History buffs can take note. George Washington is in serious danger of missing the postseason for the first time since 2010.

1Liberty Christian6-0617429.00
6Wilson Memorial5-1613322.17
7Turner Ashby4-2612120.17
9Rockbridge County2-4610116.83
10Fort Defiance3-369716.17
16Fluvanna County0-667011.67

Region 3C outlook: Liberty Christian might be too far gone for anyone else to reach, even if No. 2 Heritage knocks off the Bulldogs this Thursday. There should be plenty of jockeying within the top six. Heritage benefits from the strength of the Seminole District if the Pioneers keep winning. Heritage’s three toughest games remaining are on the road. Wins already over E.C. Glass and Brookville are paying huge dividends for the Pioneers. Staunton has benefitted so far by a soft schedule. It gets tougher at the end with games against Riverheads and Wilson Memorial. Spotswood has a good chance to finish 9-1 and grab one of the top four spots, maybe No. 3. There already is a significant gap between No. 8 Rustburg and No. 9 Rockbridge County. Is that too much for the Wildcats to overcome? Check back in three weeks. If Rockbridge wins its next three against Waynesboro, Broadway and Harrisonburg — teams that have combined for just one win all year — it could get interesting.

1Lord Botetourt5-1614323.83
4Cave Spring4-2612220.33
5Magna Vista4-3714020.00
6Staunton River3-3610918.33
8Hidden Valley2-5711616.57
9William Byrd2-469515.83
10Carroll County1-6710214.57

Region 3D outlook: Lord Botetourt dodged a bullet last week against William Byrd. The Cavaliers are still in the driver’s seat for the No. 1 seed if they finish 9-1. Bassett seems headed for an 8-2 finish after starting 0-2 with losses to Franklin County and Liberty Christian. Christiansburg remains in the mix. 

The Blue Demons could make things interesting with a win Oct. 21 at Patrick Henry, where they have not been victorious since 2010. Regardless, Botetourt, Bassett and Christiansburg appear to separating themselves from the pack. Current No. 4 Cave Spring is 2-0 in the River Ridge District but the next three games are against PH, Salem and Christiansburg. Magna Vista is lurking at No. 5. The Warriors have an opportunity this Friday at home against unbeaten Martinsville. How will the bottom two spots shake out? Byrd’s Oct. 21 game at Staunton River will tell a lot. Hidden Valley might be vulnerable. Sitting at 2-5 with games remaining against Christiansburg and Salem, the Titans are on shaky ground.

3Floyd County5-1612220.33
5Appomattox County4-3712818.29
8James River3-369415.67
10Dan River2-468414.00
11Patrick County2-468113.50
12Nelson County1-566210.33

Region 2C: Floyd County lacked a win over a strong team before last Friday. No more. The Buffaloes’ 33-27 victory over Glenvar in triple overtime broke an 11-game losing streak against the Highlanders and put Floyd solidly in position for a first-round playoff game at home. Appomattox County should finish 7-3, which means Glenvar would have to win at unbeaten Radford on Oct. 28 to stay ahead of the Raiders. Martinsville’s six wins already have equaled its second-highest total of the last 16 seasons. The Bulldogs visit Magna Vista on Friday and close the schedule at home against Bassett. Give unbeaten Radford the edge for the No. 1 spot, but Glenvar has won the last two over the Bobcats including last season’s 23-21 miracle catch in the final seconds. James River helped itself immensely with last week’s OT win over Alleghany. The No. 8 Knights still have a difficult path. Chatham at No. 9 and Dan River at No. 10 are still lurking. A home win for Dan River against Gretna on Friday is almost a must.

3Virginia High5-1613222.00
5Gate City4-2612020.00
10John Battle1-567712.83

Region 2D outlook: Big game this week with Graham at Virginia High. Comparative scores for each team vs. Tazewell would indicate an easy Graham victory. Wins over VHS and Pulaski County next week would all but lock up the No. 1 seed for the G-Men. Ridgeview would figure to land a spot in the top three, but the Wolfpack finishes on the road against Abingdon, Bluefield (W.Va.) and Gate City so perhaps hold that thought. Lee is No. 4, but the next three teams — No. 5 Gate City, No. 6 Tazewell and No. 7 Union — might have an easier road to a first-round home game than the Generals do. Is there any chance Richlands could overtake Central-Wise at No. 8? Come back in two weeks for the answer.

1Grayson County6-0611419.00
3George Wythe4-3711416.29
6Craig County2-244812.00
7Fort Chiswell2-578211.71
8Bath County2-466911.50
9Eastern Montgomery2-455611.20
10Parry McCluer1-566310.50
x-Bland County0-22168.00

Region 1C outlook: What is the value of a strong schedule? Despite two losses, No. 2 Galax is just a hair behind unbeaten No. 1 Grayson County. With a win Friday over George Wythe, the Maroon Tide would pass the Blue Devils for now. George Wythe has a chance to move up by season’s end if it can sweep Galax and Grayson. Narrows figures to finish 9-1 and should hang on to one of the top four spots. The rest of this region? Who knows? Craig County has played just three games. The Rockets defeated Bland County in the opener, then Bland canceled its season. Craig’s other “win” was a forfeit from Twin Valley when the Panthers canceled their season. So how long can Craig hang in the top eight? Parry McCluer has a better than decent shot to finish 5-5. That should be enough to get in. This week’s Eastern Montgomery-Bath County winner might eventually earn a spot when the smoke clears.

1PH-Glade Spring5-2712918.43
2Rye Cove6-1712417.71
5Twin Springs3-257815.60
7J.I. Burton3-368614.33
10Rural Retreat2-356713.40
12Thomas Walker1-566410.67
16x-Twin Valley0-22168.00

Region 1D outlook: Gary Collier quarterbacked Emory & Henry to the NCAA Division III semifinals in 1987. Turning around Rye Cove’s fortunes as a first-year head coach might be an even more impressive feat. The Eagles dropped their first game of the year last week to Class 2 Lee, but the program that once lost 35 games in a row has clinched its first winning record since 2011. 

While PH-Glade Spring and Grundy appear to have the strongest teams, plenty of movement could still take place here. Lebanon and J.I. Burton have opportunities to make up serious ground. One of three Hogoheegee teams — Holston, Northwood or Rural Retreat — should get the No. 8 spot.

NOTE: VHSL Rating Scale points are used to determine qualification and seeding for region playoffs. Each team’s average determines its position. Eight teams qualify in each of the following regions. Games played against non-VHSL-recognized opponents do not factor into the ratings.

You can find last week’s ratings here.

Robert Anderson worked for 44 years in Virginia as a sports writer, most recently as the high school...