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Minutemen head to JF this Friday; much is on the line

By Mike Forster

 

Sabre Stadium should be rocking on Friday night when Liberty and Jefferson Forest wrap up their regular seasons in a most meaningful game.

Not only does the contest pit county rivals against one another, with the county championship on the line, the game will also determine a whole lot more.

As both teams beat Staunton River earlier in the season, the champions of Bedford County will be decided in this game.

While Bedford bragging rights are always nice, the bigger issue has to do with playoffs.

Liberty is a lock for the 16-team field in 3A-West.  What is not certain, however, is where the Minutemen will be seeded.

A victory over a 4A-level team, such as Jefferson Forest, would likely move the Minutemen up in the pecking order.

Depending on who does what this Friday, should the Minutemen win, it is conceivable that they could move up from 11th to 8th, though such an event would require a LOT of help.

Conversely, should the Minutemen lose, they could find themselves dropping into the teens.

"[Currently] the top seven or eight teams are quality programs," said Liberty Head Coach Chris Watts.  "There are no easy games [in the first round]."

Watts views the game not only as a means by which his team can improve its playoff seeding, but as a way of building on the momentum the team garnered from recent games with Buckingham County, Heritage and Amherst.

For Jefferson Forest, getting to that first round is the team's primary objective.  The math here is simple:  A loss to Liberty will end the Cavs' season.

A win would give the Cavs a good shot at nabbing a slot in the low teens, depending on the fates of Louisa County, Amherst and Charlottesville.

Nothing is guaranteed until they break out the slide rules.

The calculus, from a JF perspective, has to factor in the absence of quarterback Ryan Crist and middle linebacker Jason Ayers, among others.

Even taking out the playoff factor, Liberty's Watts isn't taking the hobbled Cavs lightly.

"JF always plays hard.  It's a rivalry," said Watts.  "No matter the circumstances, it's hard-fought."

It's our prediction that the game will be decided on the basis of how well the M-Men minimize the turnovers and whether JF can get an air game going.