The Virginia High School League logo. Courtesy of VHSL
The Virginia High School League logo. Courtesy of VHSL

The football programs at Patrick Henry and William Fleming have enjoyed a few high points in their respective histories.

Just not at the same time.

PH won the VHSL Group AAA championship in 1973 and played for the title in 1979.

Fleming reached the Division 5 state final in 1997 and the Division 4 championship game in 2003.

However, the two Roanoke city high schools had made the playoffs in the same season only four times prior to 2022.

Well, they are back.

Patrick Henry was safely in the Region 5D field, but Friday’s 17-7 home win over Salem elevated the Patriots to the No. 3 spot and gave them a first-round home game.

The situation was dicier for Fleming.

The Colonels closed with a 14-7 victory over William Byrd, but they also needed a loss by Independence and a combination of other outcomes to secure the No. 8 spot.

Now comes the hard part.

PH and Fleming have won a postseason game just once in the same season — 2019.

The Colonels have to play at No. 1 Stone Bridge, the team that defeated the Colonels 46-13 in the state semifinals in the delayed 2020 season that was played in the spring of 2021.

Patrick Henry is at home against No. 6 Briar Woods, a first-time opponent from Loudoun County.

What does the rest of the landscape look like for Southwest and Central Virginia?

Here’s a quick glance as the VHSL released its official first-round pairings Sunday.

1Oscar Smith8-1931434.89
2Thomas Dale9-11033633.6
4Western Branch8-21031631.6
5Franklin County6-41029329.3
7James River-Midlothian4-61024724.7
8Floyd Kellam4-61024624.6
11Ocean Lakes1-91020620.6

Region 6A: All seemed normal until Class 3 Phoebus created shockwaves throughout the state with a 56-0 beatdown of Oscar Smith on Saturday in Hampton. Smith had more than enough cushion to secure the No. 1 seed in the region, but just how will the Tigers recover from their wounds? No. 2 Thomas Dale must rebound from a huge loss of its own to a team from a lower classification after Class 4 power Dinwiddie pinned a 63-23 drubbing on the Knights. No. 3 Manchester has won nine in a row since a 48-7 season-opening loss to Class 5 Highland Springs. How good is Highland Springs? The team from Richmond’s east side went up to West Virginia and ripped Martinsburg 35-3 in September. Franklin County finished two wins short of hosting a first-round game. The No. 5 Eagles will have to make the trip to Chesapeake for the second year in a row to play No. 4 Western Branch, which could have been seeded higher but for a 2-0 loss to Oscar Smith in Week 10. Franklin County fell 35-27 to the Bruins in 2021. The Eagles are in the playoffs for the sixth consecutive season, looking for their first win since a 2018 first-round victory over Clover Hill. Franklin County has just four postseason wins in school history and has not advanced beyond the second round.

CLASS 6 pairings:

Region A

 No. 8 Floyd Kellam (4-6) at No. 1 Oscar Smith (8-1)

 No. 5 Franklin County (6-4) at No. 4 Western Branch (8-2)

 No. 6 Cosby (5-5) at No. 3 Manchester (9-1)

 No. 7 James River-Midlothian (4-6) at No. 2 Thomas Dale (9-1)

Region B

 No. 8 Gar-Field (5-5) at No. 1 Freedom-Woodbridge (10-0)

 No. 5 Forest Park (6-4) at No. 5 John Champe (7-3)

 No. 6 Unity Reed (6-4) at No. 3 Patriot (9-1)

 No. 7 Colonial Forge (5-5) at No. 2 Battlefield (10-0)

Region C

 No. 8 Alexandria City (5-5) at No. 1 Fairfax (10-0)

 No. 5 James Robinson (7-3) at No. 4 Lake Braddock (8-2)

 No. 6 Hayfield (7-3) at No. 3 West Springfield (8-2)

 No. 7 Thomas Edison (6-4) at No. 2 South County (9-1)

Region D

 No. 8 Washington-Liberty (5-5) at No. 1 James Madison (7-3)

 No. 5 Yorktown (7-3) at No. 4 Langley (7-3)

 No. 6 Herndon (6-4) at No. 3 Westfield (6-4)

 No. 7 Chantilly (5-5) at No. 2 Centreville (8-2)

1Stone Bridge9-11033833.8
2Mountain View9-11031331.3
3Patrick Henry-Roanoke8-21029929.9
6Briar Woods7-31028528.5
8William Fleming5-51025125.1
9Brooke Point7-31024524.5
14Potomac Falls2-81020720.7
15North Stafford1-91020320.3

Region 5D: Stone Bridge is synonymous with success in Class 5. The Bulldogs have played in state finals in six of the past seven seasons, losing three times to Highland Springs before winning the last two state championships over Highland Springs and Maury, respectively. Stone Bridge has won 33 of its last 34 games with the only loss coming 36-13 at midseason to an unbeaten Freedom-Woodbridge team that scored 635 points in 10 wins. Does anyone have anything for Stone Bridge this year? Start with No. 2 seed Mountain View, which has won nine games by an average of 32.4 points with only a 12-8 loss to Class 6 Colonial Forge. Mountain View eliminated Patrick Henry 42-12 in the second round in 2021 before a 37-0 drubbing at the hands of Stone Bridge. No. 5 Woodgrove, No. 6 Briar Woods and No. 7 Albemarle were separated by just 0.4 points on the Rating Scale. Other than the Patrick Henry and William Fleming games, the other two matchups are Albemarle at Mountain View, and Woodgrove at No. 4 Riverbend.

CLASS 5 pairings:

Region A

 No. 8 Hickory (3-7) at No. 1 Green Run (10-0)

 No. 5 Indian River (7-3) at No. 4 Salem-Virginia Beach (7-3)

 No. 6 Bayside (6-4) at No. 3 Frank Cox (8-2)

 No. 7 Tallwood (4-6) at No. 2 Kempsville (9-1)

Region B


Region B

 No. 1 Maury (7-1) bye

 No. 5 Menchville (5-5) at No. 4 Woodside (7-3)

 No. 6 Norview (4-6) at No. 3 Kecoughtan (7-3)

 No. 2 Nansemond River (7-3) bye

Region C

 No. 8 Prince George (1-9) at No. 1 Highland Springs (10-0)

 No. 5 Mills Godwin (6-4) at No. 4 Douglas Freeman (8-2)

 No. 6 Hermitage (6-4) at No. 3 L.C. Bird (7-3)

 No. 7 Glen Allen (5-5) at No. 2 Midlothian (9-1)

Region D

 No. 8 William Fleming (5-5) at No. 1 Stone Bridge (9-1)

 No. 5 Woodgrove (7-3) at No. 4 Riverbend (8-2)

 No. 6 Briar Woods (7-3) at No. 3 Patrick Henry-Roanoke (8-2)

 No. 7 Albemarle (8-2) at No. 2 Mountain View (9-1)

1E.C. Glass9-11031231.2
2Louisa County10-01029829.8
4Orange County8-21025625.6
5Amherst County6-41023523.5
6Western Albemarle5-51022522.5
7Jefferson Forest4-61022222.2
8Halifax County5-51021821.8
9Pulaski County4-61021021
10George Washington3-6918820.89
11Mecklenburg Couinty3-71020620.6

Region 4D: What is the value of the home field for Salem? The Spartans’ last three postseason losses have come at home, and their last four Class 4 state championships have included at least one victory on an opponent’s turf. Take that for what it’s worth as No. 3 Salem faces a bracket that might well include a semifinal at No. 2 Louisa County and a region final at No. 1 E.C. Glass. Salem wound up No. 3 courtesy of Friday’s 17-7 loss at Patrick Henry, the third time this year the Spartans have been held to seven points or fewer. First up is a home game against No. 6 Western Albemarle, a team Salem has never played. Jefferson Forest finished 1-6 in the Seminole District but a 3-0 nondistrict mark plus the rider points from Seminole games were enough to get the Cavaliers the No. 7 seed and a trip to No. 2 Louisa. Pulaski County could have made the field at No. 6 with a win over Christiansburg. Instead, a 34-31 loss left the Cougars at home for the second year in a row. Elsewhere, E.C. Glass’ win over previously unbeaten Liberty Christian earned the Hilloppers the No. 1 seed and a home game agianst No. 8 Halifax County. Also, No. 5 Amherst County will play at No. 4 Orange County. It will be Orange’s first home playoff game since 2000. Salem is the reigning region champ, highlighted by a 55-7 second-round win over Louisa.

CLASS 4 pairings:

Region A

 No. 8 Hampton (3-7) vs. No. 1 Warwick (9-1)

 No. 5 Heritage-Newport News (6-4) at No. 4 Churchland (7-3)

 No. 6 Grafton (6-4) at No. 3 Warhill (7-3)

 No. 7 Deep Creek (5-5) at No. 2 King’s Fork (8-2)

Region B

 No. 8 Powhatan (6-4) at No. 1 Dinwiddie (10-0)

 No. 5 Eastern View (8-2) at No. 4 Hanover (8-2)

 No. 6 Matoaca (6-4) at No. 3 Varina (9-1)

 No. 7 Patrick Henry-Ashland (6-4) at No. 2 King George (10-0)

Region C

 NW 4 John Handley (7-3) at D1 Loudoun County (10-0)

 D3 Loudoun Valley (6-3) at NW2 Sherando (6-4)

 NW 3 Millbrook (5-5) at D2 Tuscarora (9-1)

 D4 Heritage-Leesburg (4-6) at NW1 Kettle Run (10-0)

Region D

 No. 8 Halifax County (5-5) at No. 1 E.C. Glass (9-1)

 No. 5 Amherst County (6-4) at No. 4 Orange County (8-2)

 No. 6 Western Albemarle (5-5) at No. 3 Salem (8-2)

 No. 7 Jefferson Forest (4-6) at No. 2 Louisa County (10-0)

1Liberty Christian9-11030930.9
5Turner Ashby8-21024324.3
6Wilson Memorial7-31024324.3
9Rockbridge County4-61019019
11Fort Defiance3-71017117.1
16Fluvanna County0-101014514.5

Region 3C: We’ve said it all year. The Seminole District is loaded. Seven of the Seminole’s eight teams made the postseason including four teams in this region. Anyone predicting that the Seminole will not have three Region 3C semifinalists? One Seminole team will advance for sure as No. 8 Rustburg goes to No. 1 Liberty Christian in a rematch of the Sept. 16 game the Bulldogs won 56-6. There was movement in 3C after Friday’s games as Staunton fell from No. 4 to No. 7 following its third straight loss after a 7-0 start. Staunton will visit No. 2 Heritage, which has made the postseason for the 13th year in a row. No. 3 Brookville lost this year to LCA, E.C. Glass and Heritage (10-7), but the Bees beat everyone else including a 35-7 victory over No. 5 Turner Ashby. Brookville plays at home in the first round against No. 6 Wilson Memorial. The 4-5 matchup sends Turner Ashby to Spotswood. Despite winding up as the lower seed, Turner Ashby defeated Spotswood 36-28 in Bridgewater on Oct. 14. LCA is the defending champion, beating Brookville 42-6 in the 2021 region final before falling 22-14 to Phoebus in the Class 3 championship.

1Lord Botetourt9-11029129.1
2Magna Vista7-31025625.6
5Cave Spring6-41022922.9
7Staunton River5-51019419.4
8Hidden Valley3-71018418.4
9William Byrd3-71018018
10Carroll County2-81017017

Region 3D: Kudos to Lord Botetourt. After a 28-14 season-opening loss to an E.C. Glass team that is the No. 1 seed in Region 4D, the Cavaliers ran the table. It was far from easy. First, Botetourt avenged 2021 losses to Riverheads and Appomattox County, followed by last-ditch wins over Princeton, W.Va. (28-27) and Franklin County (24-21). The stretch run set Botetourt up as a clear No. 1 seed, but there is no shortage of challengers for the title won last year by Abingdon. Bassett’s 17-10 loss at Martinsville knocked the Bengals from the No. 2 spot to No. 2. Henry County rival Magna Vista, which lost 41-7 to Bassett on Sept. 30, took the No. 2 seed, and Christiansburg used its 34-31 win over Pulaski County to claim the No. 3 spot. The only other drama was for the No. 8 spot where idle Hidden Valley edged William Byrd and Carroll County. While the Titans practiced last week without really knowing they would have a playoff game, Byrd or Carroll County could have bypassed them with a win. However, Byrd lost 14-7 to William Fleming, and Carroll came up short 34-23 to Floyd County. So the first round has Hidden Valley at Botetourt, No. 7 Staunton River at Magna Vista, No. 6 Abingdon at Christiansburg, and No. 5 Cave Spring at No. 4 Bassett. The Christiansburg-Abingdon game is a rematch. The Blue Demons won 22-13 at home on Sept. 2.

CLASS 3 pairings:

Region A

 No. 8 York (7-3) at No. 1 Phoebus (10-0)

 No. 5 Southampton (8-2) at No. 4 I.C. Norcom (7-3)

 No. 6 Hopewell (6-4) at No. 3 Lake Taylor (9-1)

 No. 7 Colonial Heights (6-4) at No. 2 Lafayette (9-1)

Region B

 No. 8 James Monroe (2-8) at No. 1 Brentsville (9-1)

 No. 5 Caroline (4-6) at No. 4 Armstrong (4-6)

 No. 6 Culpeper County (3-7) at No. 3 Warren County (5-5)

 No. 7 Goochland (3-7) at No. 2 Skyline (5-5)

Region C

 No. 8 Rustburg (5-5) at No. 1 Liberty Christian (9-1)

 No. 5 Turner Ashby (8-2) at No. 4 Spotswood (8-2)

 No. 6 Wilson Memorial (7-3) at No. 3 Brookville (7-3)

 No. 7 Staunton (7-3) at No. 2 Heritage-Lynchburg (8-2)

Region D

 No. 8 Hidden Valley (3-7) at No. 1 Lord Botetourt (9-1)

 No. 5 Cave Spring (6-4) at No. 4 Bassett (7-3)

 No. 6 Abingdon (5-5) at No. 3 Christiansburg (7-3)

 No. 7 Staunton River (5-5) at No. 2 Magna Vista (7-3)

4Appomattox County7-31023023
6Floyd County7-31020820.8
7Dan River6-41019819.8
10James River-Buchanan3-71016616.6
11Patrick County2-81014714.7
12Nelson County1-91011211.2

Region 2C: You have to hand it to Martinsville. Two years after seeing the 2020 season canceled because of COVID-19 and not being allowed to practice or lift weights for more than a calendar year because of the school system’s health protocol, the Bulldogs finished 9-1, the most wins for the program since 2001. Martinsville’s 17-10 win over Class 3 Bassett wasn’t enough to get the No. 1 seed however, as Radford parlayed its own 9-1 mark highlighted by a 21-20 victory over Class 3 Christiansburg into the top spot. Both top teams will welcome Dogwood District visitors in the first round with No. 8 Gretna going to Radford and No. 7 Dan River taking on No. 2 Martinsville. The Bulldogs defeated Dan River 50-27 at home on Sept. 16. While Radford and Martinsville battled all season for the No. 1 spot, this region remains wide open. No. 3 Glenvar stunned Radford 37-34 two weeks ago on the road as the Highlanders topped the Bobcats as time expired for the second year in a row. So what about Floyd County? The No. 6 Buffaloes stamped their candidacy with a 33-27 triple-overtime home win over Glenvar on Oct. 7. The first-round rematch will be at Glenvar. And no, Appomattox County hasn’t gone anywhere. The Generals, winners of six of the last seven region titles, are seeded No. 4 and will play No. 5 Alleghany at home. Alleghany is looking its first postseason win since 2010.

3Virginia High8-21022822.8
4Gate City7-31022622.6
10John Battle1-91014714.7

Region 2D: As the lone unbeaten team remaining in the Class 2 ranks, No. 1 Graham appeared to be an overwhelming favorite to repeat its region title. That was until No. 2 Ridgeview served notice with a 41-0 pasting of Gate City that gave the Wolfpack the Mountain 7 District title. Can anyone else contend? No. 3 Virginia High finished 8-2, but that included a 49-21 loss to Graham on Oct. 13 when the G-Men were missing some starters. Gate City had a bad start — losses to Richlands and Radford (62-12) — and a bad finish. The No. 4 Blue Devils will be at home against No. 5 Union in a rematch. Gate City won the first one 23-16 at home Sept. 23. The other first-round games send No. 8 Central-Wise to No. 1 Graham, No. 7 Tazewell to No. 2 Ridgeview and No. 6 Lee to No. 3 Virginia High. Central-Wise qualified thanks to its 41-8 win Friday over Grundy, knocking Richlands from the No. 8 spot. Graham reached the Class 2 state final in 2021, losing to King William 48-21 at Salem Stadium. The G-Men and Union have combined to win the last five Region 2D titles.

CLASS 2 pairings:

Region A

 No. 8 Bruton (5-5) at No. 1 King William (7-3)

 No. 5 Brunswick (5-5) at No. 4 Greensville County (8-2)

 No. 6 Nandua (6-4) at No. 3 Poquoson (6-4)

 No. 7 Amelia County (5-5) at No. 2 Thomas Jefferson-Richmond (7-3)

Region B

 No. 8 East Rockingham (4-6) at No. 1 Strasburg (9-1)

 No. 5 Stuarts Draft (7-3) at No. 4 Clarke County (7-3)

 No. 6 Buckingham County (8-2) at No. 3 Central-Woodstock (8-2)

 No. 7 Madison County (6-4) at No. 2 Luray (8-2)

Region C

 No. 8 Gretna (5-5) at No. 1 Radford (9-1)

 No. 5 Alleghany (6-4) at No. 4 Appomattox County (7-3)

 No. 6 Floyd County (7-3) at No. 3 Glenvar (7-3)

 No. 7 Dan River (6-4) at No. 2 Martinsville (9-1)

Region D

 No. 8 Central-Wise (4-6) at No. 1 Graham (10-0)

 No. 5 Union (7-3) at No. 4 Gate City (7-3)

 No. 6 Lee (6-4) at No. 3 Virginia High (8-2)

 No. 7 Tazewell (6-4) at No. 2 Ridgeview (9-1)

2George Wythe6-3919221.33
4Grayson County8-21019219.2
7Parry McCluer4-61014614.6
8Bath County4-61014314.3
9Fort Chiswell2-81013113.1
10Eastern Montgomery2-899710.78
11Craig County2-688510.63
x-Bland County0-22178.5

Region 1C: The two Class 1 regions in the western part of the state were affected by the decisions of Bland County, Twin Valley and Auburn to cancel their seasons after a handful of games each. As a result, many teams were left to decide whether to find a replacement game, count a canceled game as a forfeit, or simply declare a no-contest and have just nine games count on the VHSL Rating Scale. Several Mountain Empire District teams were not originally playing Bland County anyway as the Bears opted not to play an MED schedule. Two Region 1C teams — Giles and Eastern Montgomery — also played North Cross in a game the VHSL does not consider for its ratings. The top three teams in Region 1C — No. 1 Galax, No. 2 George Wythe and No. 3 Narrows — all played just nine games. George Wythe played a replacement game at Grundy and a 42-28 loss ultimately cost the Maroons the No. 1 seed. The Maroons defeated Galax and Grayson County but still rated at No. 2. Galax is accustomed to being on top. The Maroon Tide have won seven region titles in a row. Here are the first-round pairings: No. 8 Bath County at No. 1 Galax, No. 7 Parry McCluer at No. 2 Wythe, No. 6 Covington at No. 3 Narrows and No. 5 Giles at No. 4 Grayson. The last two games are rematches. Grayson defeated Giles 34-14 on Oct. 14, and Narrows overcame a huge deficit to top Covington 44-38 on the same night. Covington is not just playing to extend the 2022 season. The Cougars’ last game this year will be the final one in school history as Covington will merge next year with Alleghany to form Alleghany County High School.

1PH-Glade Spring7-31020320.3
2Twin Springs7-2918020
4Rye Cove7-2917119
9J.I. Burton5-51016416.4
10Rural Retreat4-5913214.67
12Thomas Walker3-6912412.4
16x-Twin Valley0-22189

Region 1D: The postseason record of the current members is dreadful. That’s with the exception of J.I. Burton, and the Raiders didn’t qualify this year primarily because their nondistrict schedule included losses to larger schools like Ridgeview, Union and Lee. The Cumberland has two representatives in the top four this year, No. 2 Twin Springs and No. 4 Rye Cove. The 1D teams were shuffled Friday with only No. 5 Holston and No. 6 Honaker staying put. The final order included No. 1 Patrick Henry-Glade Spring (up 2), No. 2 Twin Springs (up 2), No. 3 Grundy (down 2), No. 4 Rye Cove (down 2) and No. 7 Lebanon and No. 8 Hurley, who switched places. The first-round games are Hurley at PH-Glade Spring (yes, we know it’s really in Emory), Lebanon at Twin Springs, Honaker at Grundy, and Holston at Rye Cove. Holston, the two-time defending region champ, already owns a 42-16 win over Twin Springs. The Honaker-Hurley game is a rematch, the Tigers winning 41-20 on Oct. 14.

CLASS 1 pairings:

Region A

 No. 8 Colonial Beach (1-9) at No. 1 Essex (10-0)

 No. 5 Westmoreland (4-5) at No. 4 West Point (6-4)

 No. 6 Rappahannock (5-5) at No. 3 Northumberland (7-2)

 No. 7 Northampton (5-5) at No. 2 King & Queen (8-2)

Region B

 No. 1 Riverheads (8-1) bye

 No. 5 Franklin (4-6) at No. 4 Sussex Central (6-4)

 No. 6 William Campbell (3-7) at No. 3 Buffalo Gap (6-4)

 No. 2 Central-Lunenburg (10-0) bye

Region C

 No. 8 Bath County (4-6) at No. 1 Galax (6-3)

 No. 5 Giles (4-6) at No. 4 Grayson County (8-2)

 No. 6 Covington (3-7) at No. 3 Narrows (8-1)

 No. 7 Parry McCluer (4-6) at No. 2 George Wythe (6-3)

Region D

 No. 8 Hurley (5-4) at No. 1 Patrick Henry-Glade Spring (7-3)

 No. 5 Holston (7-3) at No. 4 Rye Cove (7-2)

 No. 6 Honaker (7-3) at No. 3 Grundy (5-4)

 No. 7 Lebanon (6-4) at No. 2 Twin Springs (7-2)

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