Minutemen to host Botetourt this Friday

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By Mike Forster

In a repeat matchup of last year’s Division 3 opening round, the Blue Ridge District’s Lord Botetourt will face Liberty.

One of the big differences in this year’s matchup is that the Minutemen will play the role of host. Last year, the Minutemen hiked it up to Bonsack.

The other big difference is that last year, the Minutemen came in as a #5 seed to the Cavs’ #4. This year, Liberty is a #3 to Botetourt’s #4.

Of course, last year, the location and the seedings mattered little as Liberty took care of the Cavs in convincing fashion, 47-14.

In that win, the Minutemen rang up 454 rushing yards behind the likes of Derek Comer, Fuquan Goode and Lavarta Tanner.

In fact, the Liberty ground game was so effective that the Minutemen didn’t air out a single pass.

While Tanner is back, it’s doubtful that the Minutemen will be as pass-averse this go-round.

Head Coach Chris Watts has always been a big believer in dancin’ with the one that brung ya.

This year’s version of the Minutemen has certainly been more balanced between the air and ground attack. Look for that mix to continue against the Cavs.

Botetourt finished out the season at 3-7, disappointing by LB standards but still good enough to nab that sixth seed in Division 3.

Here’s one for you numbers nuts: Of those seven losses, six have come to teams with a combined record of 45-12. That stat includes the likes of Brookville, Salem and Pulaski.

Botetourt’s only loss this year to a non-playoff team was to Hidden Valley.

Liberty and Botetourt share two common foes from the regular season just past: Brookville and Blacksburg.

While both teams were beaten handily by the Bees (Brookville beat the Cavs 36-0), Lord Botetourt did beat the same Blacksburg team (20-17) that did in the Minutemen early in the season, 28-13.

Just like last year, the team is led by quarterback Emory Straub, who would like nothing better than to end his senior season with a flourish.

He will face a stout test in the form of Liberty’s defensive backs, including Kordero Thompson, Anthony Reynolds, Carlton Payne and Malcolm McCoy.

Halfback Josh Colombini seems to be the workhorse out of the backfield.

Fullback Zack Santolla is more of bruising runner, carrying about 35 pounds more on his frame than the 165 pound Colombini.

Place kicker/punter Troy McNeil is one of the more highly regarded booters in the area.

Reportedly, many of the Cavs’ starters on offense also do so on defense.

As the same is so with Liberty (albeit to a somewhat lesser degree), physical conditioning could become a factor in this one.

Although this is the third straight season that the Cavs have made the playoffs, you have to go back to 1984 to find their last playoff win.

The winner of this tilt wins the right to travel to R.E. Lee to face the Leemen next Friday evening.

Kickoff for the Lord Botetourt at Liberty game is at 7:30 p.m. Friday.