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The long march continues for the local football prepsters.
This past weekend, the three schools had their first taste of scrimmage action.
We got to see two of the teams up close and personal. The other will be seen next week, if all goes according to plan.
This past Friday night, Staunton River played host to Prince Edward and Halifax. We hit those matchups as Jefferson Forest headed to Rockbridge County.
On Saturday, we got to check out Liberty, as the Minutemen entertained Spotswood and Dan River.
Everyone seemed happy to be out on the turf, slugging it out under game conditions.
"It felt good," said Liberty fullback and middle linebacker Devin Carper. "In practice, everything wasn't clicking like it's supposed to. Now, everything is coming together."
Carper, who had a tipped pass and a strip, looked to be in mid-season form on defense as he nailed several Dan River ballrunners in audible fashion.
Teammate Austin Porter added, "It felt great to get out there and play someone else besides each other."
Porter looked as though he were enjoying himself as he led his team to a pair of touchdowns, both scored by himself.
One of those scores was set up by a 68-yard scamper by tailback Matthew Smith. "It felt good," echoed Smith. "Everything is gelling. This felt like a game situation."
Smith is poised to have a superb year. During the scrimmage, he was knocking over would-be tacklers as though they were ten-pins.
But the senior wasn't near the point of resting on his laurels. "This is a great learning environment for us," he noted. "For instance, it gives me the chance to work on my reads and positioning."
Smith also took the opportunity to express the wish that his twin sister, Nicole, was playing on the team. While he stated so in half-joking fashion, it's worth noting that the defending State champion in the discus throw could likely hold her own on the gridiron.
All fun aside, Liberty looked extremely sharp, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. Isaiah Coles, alone, had two interceptions which he returned for touchdowns against Dan River. One of those was a pick after which he had an uncontested clear view to the end zone. The other gave him a chance to show his serpentine open-field running talents.
Staunton River had a chance to show the public its unbalanced single wing. The Eagles moved the ball quite well. In fact, River drilled a much larger Halifax team, scoring a trio of touchdowns against the Comets, as freshman Grayson Overstreet, junior Jakob Divers and senior Trey Tumblin each found paydirt.
During the course of the evening, Quannie Blake was a workhorse, racking up deep runs against both Halifax and Prince Edward.
Clay Feazell made a nice catch of a Divers pass while on a post route. Defensive tackle Jordan Patti looked very solid in the trenches while middle linebacker Blake Green delivered some punishing hits over the course of the evening.
Spotted in the Staunton River stands were Liberty coaches Chris Watts and David Harlow, whose team will face the Eagles in the season opener. On Saturday, Poston and Coach Jeremy Haymore were seen at Liberty.
Speaking of his own team's performance the night before, Poston said, "We saw some good things and some things that have to get fixed.
"It's never as good as you think it is and it's never as bad."
Isn't that the truth, Coach?