Where is the hub of high school football in central and western Virginia?
Is it Salem-Roanoke Valley or is it Lynchburg?
Each city is a site of two VHSL state championship games Dec. 10, the Class 2 and Class 1 finals at Salem Stadium, and the Class 4 and Class 3 games at Liberty University.
And each locality has multiple teams playing in VHSL region championships this weekend.
Start with Salem vs. E.C. Glass in the Region 4D final at Lynchburg’s City Stadium at 5 p.m. Saturday.
Two Lynchburg city schools go head-to-head in the Region 3C final when Liberty Christian plays Heritage at Liberty University at 7 p.m. Saturday.
The Region 2C championship game will be at 7 p.m. Friday when Lynchburg-area school Appomattox County comes to Glenvar, which is a Roanoke County school with a Salem mailing address.
And if Appomattox County counts under the Lynchburg banner, then consider Lord Botetourt as part of the Salem-Roanoke Valley corps. Lord Botetourt plays at home against Christiansburg in the Region 3D final at 7 p.m. Friday.
Also, credit the Roanoke Valley with one crown already after North Cross defeated Atlantic Shores Christian 13-0 on Saturday in the VISAA Division II championship game, the fifth independent state title for the Roanoke County private school.
Three weeks remain in the VHSL playoffs.
The Dec. 3 state semifinals will pair Region A vs. Region B, and Region C vs. Region D in each classification. The region champion with the higher VHSL rating from the regular season will be the home team. Each region finalist’s VHSL rating is listed below in parentheses.
The state finals are Dec. 10, with Class 6 and Class 5 playing at Old Dominion University in Norfolk.
The Class 5, 3 and 1 state finals kick off at noon. The Class 6, 4 and 2 finals are at 4:30 p.m.
This is one of only three regions in the state where the No. 1 seed was eliminated, thanks to fourth-seeded Western Branch’s 28-14 win last week over two-time defending state champion Oscar Smith. It was the first time Oscar Smith has failed to reach a region final since 2002. Moreover, No. 3 Manchester knocked out No. 2 Thomas Dale in a 38-35 nailbiter when Dale came up short on a fourth-down play deep in Manchester territory in the final seconds.
Western Branch (10-2) will play at Manchester (11-1) at 2 p.m. Friday. Western Branch defeated Manchester 14-12 in last year’s second round, the only time the two schools have played each other.
Elsewhere in Class 6, Freedom-Woodbridge (12-0) continued its pursuit of the VHSL single-season record for total points with a 70-35 second-round victory over John Champe. Patriot (11-1) is up next Saturday in the Region 6B final for Freedom, which has scored 782 points, 38 shy of breaking the VHSL record of 819 held by Hampton (1997) and Manchester (2018).
Fairfax (12-0) is the other unbeaten Class 6 team. Fairfax plays at home in the Region 6C final Saturday against 2019 state champ South County (11-1).
Saturday’s Region 6D final pits two teams with multiple losses as Centreville (10-2) plays at James Madison (10-1) in a rematch of the Oct. 14 game that Madison won at home 21-18.
Centreville, which also lost 22-15 to Class 5 Stone Bridge, scored 63, 81 and 63 points in successive early-season games.
Patrick Henry had some high points in 2022, winning nine games to equal the most victories in a PH season since 1985, defeating Salem for the first time since 1994 and sharing the River Ridge District title.
However, the 9-3 season ended the way the 2021 season did, with a second-round playoff loss at Mountain View.
Last year the score was 42-12. This time, it was 45-9 as Mountain View raced to a 28-0 lead after one quarter and 38-7 at halftime. Jahzae Kimbrough, who was outstanding all season for Patrick Henry, scored the lone touchdown for the Patriots.
While PH’s season is over, Mountain View (10-2) will play at two-time defending Class 5 state champion Stone Bridge (11-1) in Friday’s 2 p.m. region final. Stone Bridge has won 59 playoff games in the past 20-plus seasons, all under head coach Mickey Thompson, including a 37-0 win in last year’s region final.
There is no shortage of contenders in Class 5.
Green Run (12-0) will play Kempsville (11-1) at home Friday in an all-Virginia Beach Region 5A final. These teams faced off in the season opener with Green Run with the Stallions winning 27-14. With 11 Virginia Beach schools comprising the Beach District, neither team has left the state’s largest city to play yet this season. Green Run survived an upset bid by Salem-Virginia Beach for a 21-13 second round win.
Highland Springs (12-0) got a test from Douglas Freeman before advancing 33-10, its closest game since a 26-20 season-opening win against Julius Chambers High of Charlotte, North Carolina. Highland Springs played in five state finals from 2015-2020, winning state championships in the first four years of that run. The Springers will play longtime Richmond power L.C. Bird (9-3) in the Region 5C final.
While Bird and Highland Springs are no more than 25 miles apart, they have never played each other in a regular-season game. All eight previous meetings have been in the playoffs with the series even at 4-4.
E.C. Glass holds a 5-2-1 record against Salem in the all-time series, but the Spartans are 2-0 in playoff games including a 35-24 win in Salem in 2019. Salem is 1-2-1 against Glass in City Stadium with a 7-0 win over the Hilltoppers in a 1986 Group AAA playoff game after the Spartans lost 28-13 to Glass earlier in that season.
Glass has a lone loss to Lynchburg rival Heritage, 12-0 back on Sept. 16. Salem has lost to Martinsburg (W.Va.) 40-7 and Patrick Henry-Roanoke 17-7. The Spartans also were held to a TD in a 6-0 win over Class 3 Christiansburg.
Class 4 is the only classification that pairs undefeated teams in two region finals: King George (12-0) at Dinwiddie (12-0) in Region 4B, and Loudoun County (12-0) at Kettle Run (12-0) in Region 4C.
Chilhowie native and former Rockbridge County head coach Billy Mills has built a consistent winner at Dinwiddie. Since going a combined 3-17 in his first two seasons for the Generals, he has led the program to a 153-37 record with a Class 5 championship in 2013 and two state runner-up finishes. Dinwiddie dropped a 31-27 decision to Salem in an epic 2016 Class 4 final in Williamsburg.
Dinwiddie and King George have never played each other in football. King George won the Battlefield District and opened the season with a 27-13 road win against Class 3 Lafayette.
A different school from Loudoun County seems to emerge in Region 4C almost every year. A sampling includes the likes of Broad Run, Tuscarora, Dominion, John Champe and Woodgrove.
This year it’s Loudoun County High, which opened in 1954. Now there are 17 public high schools in the county, and all are either Class 4 or larger. Loudoun County’s only previous region final was in 2012.
Kettle Run, located in Fauquier County, opened in 2008 and reached state semifinals in 2011 and 2012, losing to James Monroe on both occasions.
Brad Bradley is in his 11th season as the head coach at Heritage. It would appear Lynchburg is home.
Beginning in 1996, Bradley coached for two seasons at Gilmer County (W.Va.), spent a couple years as an assistant at Lord Botetourt, took the program at William Campbell for nine years, came to Patrick Henry-Roanoke for two and had a one-year stint as the head coach at Amelia County.
Most of those jobs were winners. Bradley has 229 career victories at his five stops, highlighted by state championships at William Campbell (2002, 2005) and Heritage (2018).
Heritage is in a region final for the fifth time in seven years. The opponent is familiar: Liberty Christian, which edged the Pioneers 14-6 on Oct. 14.
LCA was the 2021 Class 3 state runner-up. As the top-VHSL rated team in Region C or Region D, LCA can play the rest of its games on its home field, Williams Stadium.
How many games that will be remains to be seen. LCA’s lone loss was 26-14 to E.C. Glass. Heritage has beaten Glass.
One thing is certain. For the sixth year in a row, the region title will go to Heritage or LCA. The winner will be at home Dec. 3 against the Region 3D champion, Lord Botetourt or Christiansburg.
Anxious for the Heritage-LCA outcome? You’ll have to wait. Kickoff isn’t until 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
Lord Botetourt went 11 seasons from 2001-2011 without a winning record. Then Jamie Harless showed up to coach the Cavaliers.
Make a circle with your index finger and your thumb. That’s how many losing seasons Botetourt has had since Harless’ arrival.
Botetourt (11-1) earned the No. 1 seed in the region and the right to play at home against No. 2 Christiansburg (9-3) in Friday’s 7 p.m. final.
Three of Christiansburg’s four most recent playoff trips have ended with a loss to Lord Botetourt: 62-6 in 2018, 55-0 in the delayed 2020 season and 28-27 last fall in a game where Botetourt stopped a last-minute drive by the Blue Demons.
Lord Botetourt has won 11 in a row since a 28-14 season-opening loss to E.C. Glass. Christiansburg has lost to some solid teams this year, 21-20 to Radford, 6-0 to Salem and 34-14 to Patrick Henry. The Blue Demons have recorded four shutouts including last week’s 28-0 second-round win over Staunton River.
Botetourt defeated Staunton River 41-14. William Byrd was the finalists’ other common opponent. Christiansburg hammered Byrd 41-0 while Botetourt topped the Terriers 28-21.
The winner gets a trip to Lynchburg next week to play either Liberty Christian or Heritage.
Elsewhere in Class 3, how about the blue-blood matchup in Region 3A? It’s Lake Taylor (11-1) at defending state champ Phoebus (12-0) at 2 p.m. Saturday. Both schools have won Class 5 state titles. Phoebus won seven in Class 5 from 2001-11, and Lake Taylor took the championship in 2012.
Lake Taylor also won Class 4 state titles in 2014 and 2019 before dropping to Class 3 last year. The Titans also lost to Salem in Class 4 finals in 2015 and 2020. Lake Taylor’s 2021 season ended with a 54-27 first-round loss to Hopewell.
No region finalist has more losses than Warren County (7-5). The Wildcats continue their postseason Friday at No. 1 seed Brentsville (11-1). It looks like a long shot. Brentsville won the Northwestern District regular-season matchup 42-0.
If Brentsville advances and the opponent is Phoebus at Hampton’s Darling Stadium, at least the Tigers will know the way. Their 2021 season ended there with a 43-0 loss to the Phantoms.
Warren County began the season with three losses in a row. The Wildcats are in a region final for just the second time in school history. Since 1987, the program has been led by 12 different head coaches.
We had Glenvar and Appomattox County rising on the radar last week for good reason. Both knocked off higher seeds, making this region one of two where the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds are gone.
As a result of Glenvar’s 35-0 shutout of Martinsville, and Appomattox’s 38-33 victory at Radford, the Raiders (9-3) will visit Glenvar (9-3) at 7 p.m. Friday.
Glenvar is more than familiar with Appomattox. Glenvar’s last five seasons have ended with a playoff loss to the Raiders, the most recent a 27-21 setback on the Highlanders’ home field in 2021.
Jonathan Pennix was too much for Glenvar a year ago, and now he is a senior. The Virginia Tech recruit broke TD runs of 9 and 64 yards and had a 61-yard interception return for a score.
Appomattox has a 96-9 overall record and five Class 2 state titles in the last eight years. More impressively, during that time the Raiders have lost just two games to Class 2 opponents: 42-28 to Graham in last year’s state semifinal and 28-25 to Radford in the 2018 region final.
The Glenvar-Appomattox winner will play at the winner of Saturday’s Region 2D final at Bluefield’s Mitchell Stadium between Graham (12-0) and Ridgeview (11-1).
Graham and Class 1 Central-Lunenburg are the only unbeaten teams in Virginia west of Charlottesville. The G-Men were tested early in wins over interstate rival Bluefield (29-25), Union (17-8) and Galax (28-24). That’s the Galax team that defeated Glenvar 27-20 in the season opener.
Ridgeview started the season 8-0 before losing 44-24 at Bluefield (W.Va.). Ridgeview, formed from the consolidation of Clintwood and Haysi high schools in Dickenson County, has been open just eight years and has already had three head football coaches. First-year coach DeWayne Stanley has the Wolfpack in the region final for the second year in a row. Graham ousted Ridgeview 49-21 in 2021.
Region 2A finalists Poquoson (8-4) and King William (9-3) have a combined seven losses. This is not the same King William team that routed Graham 48-21 in last year’s state final as 2021 star running back Demond Claiborne is now playing for Wake Forest.
Nevertheless, King William has outscored its first two playoff foes by a combined 89-7.
Poquoson plays in a 10-team Bay Rivers District where eight of the other teams are Class 4 or Class 3 schools. Poquoson’s losses have been to York (25-13), Warhill (21-14), Lafayette (42-15) and Grafton (14-13). The Islanders advanced with a 21-17 second-round win over Thomas Jefferson-Richmond.
The Region 2B final sends Central-Woodstock (10-2) to Strasburg (11-1) on Friday night. Strasburg edged Central 22-17 in the regular-season final that gave Strasburg the Bull Run District championship. Strasburg is undefeated on the field. The Rams forfeited their season opener to Skyline after the game was cancelled.
Central-Woodstock won the region title in 2021 before losing to King William 38-29 in the state semifinal.
The Mountain Empire District had three of the four region semifinalists. Now there are two.
Grayson County (10-2) will play at George Wythe (8-3) at 1 p.m. Saturday after Grayson finally cut the head off the snake, a 21-14 win over Galax that ended the Maroon Tide’s string of seven consecutive trips to the Class 1 state semifinals.
Grayson began the playoffs with a 5-23 postseason record. Now the Blue Devils have advanced to a region final for the first time since 1991 when they lost 48-28 to Lebanon.
George Wythe knows more playoff success, winning a Division 2 state title in 2002 under Donnie Pruitt and a Division 1 crown in 2012 with head coach H.S. Ingo. The Maroons lost to Riverheads and Sussex Central in back-to-back Class 1 semifinals in 2015 and 2016.
More to the point, Wythe edged Grayson 27-22 in their MED regular-season game on Oct. 28. George Wythe leads the series with Grayson 12-3 including a 3-0 mark in playoff games, all played in Wytheville.
The Region 1D final will be played at Emory & Henry College at 1 p.m. Saturday between Grundy (7-4) and Patrick Henry-Glade Spring (9-3). It’s a rematch of the season opener that PH-Glade Spring won 28-20.
The Region 1D winner will be at home in the state semifinal only if Grayson County defeats George Wythe. Otherwise, George Wythe will have the state semifinal at home.
That’s nice, but the elephant is still in the room.
Riverheads has won the last six Class 1 state championships and the Gladiators are seeded No. 1 in Region 1B.
Riverheads (9-1) is under first-year coach Ray Norcross, but will anything change?
Two unbeaten challengers are lined up. First comes Central-Lunenburg (12-0) in the Region B final Friday night. If Riverheads advances, the semifinal opponent could be Essex (12-0), which plays King & Queen on Saturday in the Region 1A final.
Riverheads has won 26 playoff games in a row since losing 7-6 to Galax in the 2015 state final.
Fear not, Class 1, if the king isn’t toppled. Next year Riverheads will move back up to Class 2.
Oscar Smith 56, Floyd Kellam 7
Western Branch 28, Franklin County 14
Manchester 56, Cosby 15
Thomas Dale 42, James River-Midlothian 12
Western Branch 28, Oscar Smith 14
Manchester 38, Thomas Dale 35
No. 4 Western Branch (10-2, 31.60) at No. 3 Manchester (11-1, 33.40), Saturday, 2 p.m.
Freedom-Woodbridge 77, Gar-Field 26
John Champe 44, Forest Park 25
Patriot 49, Unity Reed 20
Colonial Forge 17, Battlefield 13
Freedom-Woodbridge 70, John Champe 35
Patriot 49, Colonial Forge 21
No. 3 Patriot (11-1, 33.20) at No. 1 Freedom-Woodbridge (12-0, 36.00), Saturday, 2 p.m.
Fairfax 49, Alexandria City 7
Lake Braddock 24, James Robinson 13
West Springfield 29. Hayfield 10
South County 30, Thomas Edison 0
Fairfax 63, Lake Braddock 21
South County 48, West Springfield 28
No. 2 South County (11-1, 34.60) at No. 1 Fairfax (12-0, 35.60), Saturday, 1 p.m.
James Madison 56, Washington-Liberty 6
Yorktown 21, Langley 14
Westfield 31, Herndon 28, OT
Centreville 57, Chantilly 34
James Madison 21, Yorktown 7
Centreville 35, Westfield 6
No. 2 Centreville (10-2, 31.20) at No. 1 James Madison (9-3, 31.80), Saturday, 1 p.m.
Green Run 63, Hickory 14
Salem-Virginia Beach 10, Indian River 9
Frank Cox 23, Bayside 15
Kempsville 42, Tallwood 8
Green Run 21, Salem-Virginia Beach 13
Kempsville 39, Frank Cox 12
No. 2 Kempsville (11-1, 31.60) at No. 1 Green Run (12-0, 33.60), Friday, 7 p.m.
Menchville 14, Woodside 7
Kecoughtan 7, Norview 0
Maury 37, Menchville 0
Nansemond River 21, Kecoughtan 7
No. 2 Nansemond River (8-3, 27.70) at No. 1 Maury (8-1, 31.75), Friday, 7 p.m.
Highland Springs 49, Prince George 0
Douglas Freeman 24, Mills Godwin 10
L.C. Bird 23, Hermitage 15
Glen Allen 29, Midlothian 25
Highland Springs 33, Douglas Freeman 10
L.C. Bird 42, Glen Allen 0
No. 3 L.C. Bird (9-3, 28.30) at No. 1 Highland Springs (12-0, 36.20), Saturday, 2 p.m.
Stone Bridge 38, William Fleming 7
Riverbend 21, Woodgrove 14
Patrick Henry-Roanoke 28, Briar Woods 14
Mountain View 49, Albemarle 24
Stone Bridge 50, Riverbend 29
Mountain View 45, Patrick Henry-Roanoke 9
No. 2 Mountain View (11-1, 31.30) at No. 1 Stone Bridge (11-1, 33.80), Friday, 2 p.m.
Warwick 22, Hampton 12
Churchland 48, Heritage-Newport News 20
Warhill 40, Grafton 7
King’s Fork 24, Deep Creek 14
Warwick 21, Churchland 7
King’s Fork 43, Warhill 8
No. 2 King’s Fork (10-2, 28.70) at No. 1 Warwick (11-1, 30.40), Friday, 7 p.m.
Dinwiddie 54, Powhatan 7
Hanover 35, Eastern View 31
Varina 35, Matoaca 0
King George 41, Patrick Henry-Ashland 6
Dinwiddie 49, Hanover 12
King George 31, Varina 14
No. 2 King George (12-0, 31.00) at No. 1 Dinwiddie (12-0, 32.20), Saturday, 1:30 p.m.
Loudoun County 42, John Handley 13
Sherando 40, Loudoun Valley 23
Millbrook 14, Tuscarora 13
Kettle Run 38, Heritage-Leesburg 7
Loudoun County 49, Sherando 28
Kettle Run 38, Millbrook 14
D1 Loudoun County (12-0, 30.60) vs. NW1 Kettle Run (12-0, 30.20), Saturday, 1 p.m.
E.C. Glass 53, Halifax County 25
Amherst County 40, Orange County 14
Salem 42, Western Albemarle 0
Louisa County 47, Jefferson Forest 13
E.C. Glass 42, Amherst County 14
Salem 54, Louisa County 37
No. 3 Salem (10-2, 28.20) at No. 1 E.C. Glass (11-1, 31.20), Saturday, 5 p.m.
Phoebus 64, York 7
I.C. Norcom 27, Southampton 14
Lake Taylor 21, Hopewell 12
Lafayette 51, Colonial Heights 20
Phoebus 42, I.C. Norcom 0
Lake Taylor 27, Lafayette 20
No. 3 Lake Taylor (11-1, 29.10) at No. 1 Phoebus (12-0, 33.00), Saturday, 2 p.m.
Brentsville 56, James Monroe 13
Caroline 16, Armstrong 8, OT
Warren County 21, Culpeper County 13
Goochland 35, Skyline 2
Brentsville 34, Caroline 0
Warren County 21, Goochland 13
No. 3 Warren County (7-5, 19.90) at No. 1 Brentsville (11-1, 26.20), Friday, 7 p.m.
Liberty Christian 27, Rustburg 16
Turner Ashby 17, Spotswood 14
Brookville 41, Wilson Memorial 21
Heritage-Lynchburg 35, Staunton 0
Liberty Christian 50, Turner Ashby 19
Heritage-Lynchburg 49, Brookville 21
No. 2 Heritage-Lynchburg (10-2, 29.30) at No. 1 Liberty Christian (11-1, 30.90), Saturday, 7 p.m.
Lord Botetourt 47, Hidden Valley 7
Bassett 34, Cave Spring 28, 2OT
Christiansburg 35, Abingdon 7
Staunton River 35, Magna Vista 21
Lord Botetourt 41, Bassett 7
Christiansburg 28, Staunton River 0
No. 3 Christiansburg (9-3, 25.50) at No. 1 Lord Botetourt (11-1, 29.10), Friday, 7 p.m.
King William 49, Bruton 7
Greensville County 18, Brunswick 13
Poquoson 35, Nandua 0
Thomas Jefferson-Richmond 33, Amelia County 15
King William 40, Greensville County 0
Poquoson 21, Thomas Jefferson-Richmond 17
No. 3 Poquoson (8-4, 23.50) at No. 1 King William (9-3, 24.80), Friday, 7 p.m.
Strasburg 42, East Rockingham 0
Stuarts Draft 35, Clarke County 14
Central-Woodstock 17, Buckingham County 12
Luray 52, Madison County 38
Strasburg 28, Stuarts Draft 7
Central-Woodstock 22, Luray 12
No. 3 Central-Woodstock (10-2, 24.10) at No. 1 Strasburg (11-1, 27.30), Friday, 7 p.m.
Radford 48, Gretna 26
Appomattox County 40, Alleghany 12
Glenvar 49, Floyd County 14
Martinsville 42, Dan River 39
Appomattox County 38, Radford 33
Glenvar 35, Martinsville 0
No. 4 Appomattox County (9-3, 23.00) at No. 3 Glenvar (9-3, 23.80), Friday, 7 p.m.
Graham 41, Central-Wise 13
Gate City 21, Union 15
Virginia High 37, Lee 20
Ridgeview 35, Tazewell 0
Graham 61, Gate City 14
Ridgeview 42, Virginia High 0
No. 2 Ridgeview (11-1, 25.90) at No. 1 Graham (12-0, 27.80), Saturday, 1 p.m.
Essex 56, Colonial Beach 6
Westmoreland 14, West Point 6
Northumberland 48, Rappahannock 7
King & Queen 50, Northampton 2
Essex 49, Westmoreland 0
King & Queen 28, Northumberland 12
No. 2 King & Queen (10-2, 19.70) at No. 1 Essex (12-0, 25.40), Saturday, 1 p.m.
Sussex Central 20, Franklin 2
Buffalo Gap 56, William Campbell 36
Riverheads 47, Sussex Central 20
Central-Lunenburg 15, Buffalo Gap 14
No. 2 Central-Lunenburg (11-0, 25.60) at No. 1 Riverheads (9-1, 27.44), Friday, 7 p.m.
Galax 49, Bath County 0
Grayson County 35, Giles 7
Narrows 34, Covington 18
George Wythe 41, Parry McCluer 22
Grayson County 21, Galax 14
George Wythe 48, Narrows 28
No. 4 Grayson County (10-2, 19.20) at No. 2 George Wythe (8-3, 21.33), Saturday, 1 p.m.
Patrick Henry-Glade Spring 49, Hurley 8
Holston 31, Rye Cove 8
Grundy 38, Honaker 20
Lebanon 51, Twin Springs 49
Patrick Henry-Glade Spring 42, Holston 7
Grundy 32, Lebanon 0
No. 3 Grundy (7-4, 19.56) vs. No. 1 Patrick Henry-Glade Spring (9-3, 20.30), at Emory & Henry College, Saturday, 1 p.m.
Correction: An earlier version of this story had the wrong location for Kettle Run.