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By Mike Forster
It'll be the Minutemen at the Golden Eagles' nest when two of our county teams square off this Friday evening at 7:30.
Staunton River will be trying to get the Liberty foot off its neck, where it has resided throughout this decade.
Additionally, the Golden Eagles will be trying to break their long losing streak, which is in danger of hitting the 20 game mark should they fall to Liberty.
The Eagles last won a game when they beat Appomattox on October 6, 2006. Staunton River dropped its final five games of the 2006 campaign, every contest in 2007 and has lost its first four games of this season.
Liberty has typically had its way with Staunton River. It has won the last eight meetings by a combined score of 266-58. The closest game was in 2006, a 28-13 win by Liberty.
Staunton River is coming off a bye week, so the aches and pains have had some extra time to ease. The Eagles also had an opportunity to scout Liberty personally during last Friday's Minutemen-Martinsville tilt.
While the Eagles have given up paltry yardage via the air, they have given up large chunks of turf, especially when facing premier running backs, such as John Harris of Patrick County and Tyler Snow of William Byrd.
Liberty is still trying to get its running game to a level that Head Coach Chris Watts finds satisfying. It has shown traces of brilliance, at times.
The line, led by big guy Barry Heck, has started to open the holes quickly. Thomas Clark had a breakout performance against Martinsville. JJ Starks and Anthony Reynolds are always dangerous.
Lavarta Tanner, should he return from an arm injury, is a bull up the middle.
The Minutemen can also air out the ball with confidence.
On defense, the Minutemen have shown tremendous flexibility, although that is often not by choice, as they stave off injuries to key personnel.
Carlton Payne, for instance, has shown great skill at both defensive end and at defensive back. Clark can play DB or linebacker. Denis Kiely can plug in virtually anywhere.
Staunton River represents one of the faster teams the Minutemen will see all season. For the Eagles to pull the upset, they will have to make that speed count. Liberty has been known to give up containment on the outside, so that might be an opportunity for Staunton River.
So far this season, the Eagles have not been able to really get that speed into the mix on a consistent basis. Might this be the night?
Additionally, the Eagles will have to contend with the larger bodies the Minutemen bring up front, as they will with every single opponent this year.
If Eagle quarterback Cody Jones can buy some time to get the offense on track, this could be a doozy. If he can't, it'll be a long night for Staunton River.