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District relief

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Liberty and Forest face non-Seminole foes this Friday

By Mike Forster

 

It's one of those scheduling oddities.

In the midst of the Seminole slate, both Liberty and Jefferson Forest have non-district games this weekend. The Cavs get Turner Ashby, while Liberty faces Buckingham County.

The good news is that both of them will be playing at home.

The bad news is that both are "must win" affairs as a loss is likely to kill any chance of a top-eight regional finish and the home-opening game that comes with it.

A loss would likely drop JF from the top 16 in 4A-North and would likely push Liberty into the teens.

The banged-up Cavs will face less-than-formidable opposition in the shape of Turner Ashby.  The Knights, however, are not to be overlooked, especially by a team that can't afford to do so.

Sure, TA's record is 1-4.  Yes, they are near the bottom of 3A-West (24th of 26 teams).  But, the Knights have really only been pounded once this year.  And that shellacking (49-14) came at the hands of Monticello, a team that has flat-out dominated everyone it's faced this year.

Liberty, like JF, faces a team from a lower state level.  But Buckingham County is one of the stronger teams in 2A.

The team is starting to become a mainstay.  Over the past four years, the Knights have lost a total of seven regular-season games.

The Knights certainly have one of 2A's most potent offenses.  In its past two games, Buckingham has posted a combined 113 points in wins over Randolph-Henry and Lunenburg.

Buckingham County is loaded with speed, though it's difficult to ascertain whether they're faster than Liberty.

The Knights are also large.  They are, in fact, bigger than the Minutemen.

"We watched them Friday night," said Liberty Head Coach Chris Watts, whose team had a bye.  "They're pretty darn good."

In that game, Watts and his fellow coaches watched Buckingham County dismantle a formerly unbeaten Lunenburg crew, 44-20.

Leading the Bucks was Kenneth Johnson, who carried 20 times for 428 yards.  That's not a misprint.  4-2-8.

The Knights rumbled for 538 total yards without completing a single pass (attempting only two).  

"(Johnson) reminds me of Randall Jones, from Rustburg," noted Watts.

"Their speed is a big concern for us," he added.

Also of concern is the health of Liberty quarterback Austin Porter and center Tyler Gordon.  Both young men are hobbling on ailing legs, and it is uncertain whether they'll be able to play as we go to press.

But the biggest concern of all has to be Liberty's defense.

The M-Men gave up scads of yards and multiple big plays in a loss to Glass just before the bye.  "We have to fly to the football and we need to tackle," noted Watts, noting that issues on defense outweigh offensive concerns at this point.

"Coming off a bye week and a loss, this game is huge," he said.  "We have four games left and it will be a battle the rest of the way."