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When Rockbridge County visited Jefferson Forest in the second week of the season, the Wildcats looked like anything but a playoff team.
Rockbridge departed Bedford County with a 40-6 loss hung on it, in a breakout performance by the Cav offense. A stonewalling Forest defense had a lot to do with the outcome of that one.
Certainly, that game will weigh heavily on the minds of many fans of both teams.
If those fans are expecting a repeat, however, they should reconsider. Rockbridge is a different team, one bolstered by a fine six-game run that righted its ship.
After losing its opening game of the season to JF (it was Forest’s second game), the Wildcats reeled off wins over Alleghany, Broadway, Fort Defiance, Waynesboro, Harrisonburg and Spotswood.
That streak had Rockbridge sitting in the number two spot of the Region III, Division 4 rankings at one point.
A three game losing skid, however, helped push the Wildcats out of the elite ranks.
Rockbridge wrapped up with losses to Turner Ashby, R.E. Lee and Stuarts Draft. Turner Ashby and R.E. Lee wound up with the second seeds in Division 4 and 3, respectively.
Word is that attrition has taken its toll on the Wildcats in the form of injuries, but that couldn’t be verified.
Regardless, the team should still bring a lot. Assuming they are healthy, some of the standouts for Rockbridge include 6’4” 292 lineman Caleb Farris. Only a junior, Farris seems destined to head to Virginia Tech to ply his football skills there, once he is ready to move to the next level.
Also, quarterbacks Blake Coffey and Tyler Staton comprised a two-headed threat when JF squared off with Rockbridge last go-round.
Jaqwan Biggs is an all-purpose-type player with a ton of speed.
Again, with as dominating as the Cavs were in the initial match up, it’s difficult to imagine that they will change their approach very much.
Forest’s defense held the Rockbridge offense to a total of 19 yards in the first half. That total compares with the 117 yards that Forest running back Desmond Goode put up himself in that half.
The Cav defenders seemed to have enjoyed that game, playing a disciplined game, making a pair of interceptions and stuffing the run.
Offensively, the Cavs haven’t looked better. Hunter Hannell passed for 119 yards while Rashad Hall took care of business on the ground, along with Goode.
The only weak spot in that game came on a kickoff return for a touchdown by Rockbridge’s Biggs. While the Cavs have tightened up somewhat on kick coverage, they did yield yet another return touchdown in the Liberty win.
Nevertheless, Forest has to be considered a strong favorite in this one.
Did you know?
The combined records of the three teams that have beaten Forest this season: 28-1. Brookville (10-0), Amherst (9-1) and Pulaski (9-0) have the distinction of beating the Cavs. Of note, Amherst’s only loss came against Brookville.
Interestingly, Rockbridge is the only Div. 4 team in the Southern Valley District. The other teams are Div. 3 Fort Defiance, R.E. Lee, Stuarts Draft and Waynesboro.
We don’t believe we are up to the task of trying to explain how it is that Turner Ashby (7-3) got that second seed, ahead of Forest.
To do so, however, requires an abacus, a T-square, a doctorate in statistics and a big honkin’ jug of aspirin.
We’re just taking it on faith that the math is right...