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The Minutemen travel to inhospitable Blacksburg this Friday evening in what should be their toughest challenge of the young season.
Last year, the Bruins dominated homestanding Liberty, 35-6. In that contest, the thinness of the Liberty lineup was revealed when middle linebacker Jon Langhorne’s shoulder injury seriously weakened the Minutemen defense.
Additionally, Liberty failed to capitalize on the opportunities it was presented.
For the year, the Bruins finished up 7-4, with a regional semifinal loss to Bassett. The defense was fairly generous, giving up 17.9 yards per game, but the offense was ravenous, scoring 33.9 points a game.
Blacksburg returns even fewer starters from last year (3) than does Liberty (4). One of those starters, however, is quarterback Trey Gresh. The strapping signal caller played a big role in last year’s dismantling of the Liberty defense by the Bruins.
Gresh has a very strong arm, and his heads-up play is a result of his great experience in the quarterback spot.
On defense, the Minutemen are going to have to figure how to neutralize 6’3”, 290 pound defensive lineman Dale Davis.
Blacksburg is off to a 2-0 start. It won its opener over Giles 23-8. Even though Giles is a class A school, it has a superb football program, having made it to the Regional final last year on a 9-1 regular season run.
Last week, Blacksburg pounded Graham, 35-10, as the Bruins piled up 28 unanswered points in the second half.
Jonathan Jennings rushed for 180 yards, half of which came on a 91 yard touchdown that put the game out of reach for the G-men.
Gresh added a scoring strike as part of his 115 passing yards.
Liberty Head Coach Chris Watts had high praise for Blacksburg. “That is a good program,” said Watts. “They are always good, year in and year out.”
The Bruins are led by Head Coach David Crist, who is in his 34th year at the helm. Crist has the 11th most wins among active coaches in the state. Should he keep going, it won’t be long before Coach Crist is coaching the grandsons of players on his first team. Watts referred to Crist as “a coaching legend of the state.”
Knowing his team’s work is cut out for it, Watts noted, “We can’t play that first half (like we did against Magna Vista) and beat Blacksburg.”
NOTE: This will be the last game the Bruins play at Bill Brown Stadium, their home for over 40 years.. The field is located at the intersection of Main and Ehart Streets, behind the old middle school.