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Blue Devils open home schedule with Chilhowie

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Grayson County will seek to put an end to a 12-game slide when the Warriors come calling.

By Craig Worrell, Sports Editor

INDEPENDENCE -- One aspect of Grayson County football has already shown improvement over a year ago ee" the Blue Devils actually get a full compliment of home games this time around. A year after getting just four home dates on its 10-game schedule, Grayson County plays the first of five homers tonight when it hosts Hogoheegee District big boy Chilhowie in a nondistrict game at Bill Strong Field. Though the names change year to year, McPherson says you can always recognize a Larry Russell-coached team. “He’s going to get as many big bodies as he can at the point of attack and knock you around,” McPherson said. And Russell has a couple of big bodies with which to work. The Warriors’ power running game will be led by tackles Stephen Powers, a 6-foot-3, 300-pound senior, and Hunter Testerman, a 6-3, 260-pound junior. “They’ve got a couple of big kids on the line, and they’re going to try to knock us off the ball. We’re not starting anybody close to 200 pounds on either side of the ball. But we’ll be ready for it.” Chilhowie is coming off a 10-7 loss to Smyth County rival Marion in which the Hurricane took the lead on a field goal with less than five minutes to play. Cody McMahan, a 6-3, 165-pound senior, connected with Aaron Conley on a second-quarter touchdown pass for the Warriors’ only score. Tight end Seth McKinney (6-4, 220) is another option for McMahan, but Chilhowie will stay primarily on the ground with Tyler Austin, a 6-3, 205-pound halfback. “I don’t think they’re as athletic as they’ve been the last two or three years, but they’re big and solid,” McPherson said. “We saw them on video against Virginia High and Gate City, and they moved the ball well against Gate City, and Gate City beat Richlands the other night.” Grayson County came within a two-point conversion of ending an 11-game losing streak last week, falling 21-20 at Alleghany, N.C. “We put ourselves in a position to win, which is all you can ask for,” McPherson said. “You go back and look at five or six plays we didn’t make that could have changed things. I was proud of the effort. I felt like we fought the whole time, and I felt like our conditioning was good. I think that helped us in the fourth quarter. I thought that with about four minutes to go in the fourth quarter, from that time on, they got a little winded and we kind of took it to them.” Defense is the Devils’ strength early in the season, and Grayson was in position most of the night against the Trojans. “We had a couple of plays where somebody or another may have taken a play off and they sprung a big play on us, but other than that we were pretty good,” McPherson said. A young offense is still trying to find itself after rushing for just 23 yards against the Trojans and 9 the week before in a benefit game at Floyd County. First-year quarterback Ethan Hash topped 100 yards passing both nights, with Eric Harvey catching five balls for 64 yards at Alleghany. “We’ve got to find a way to run the football,” said McPherson, who is without top returning rusher Ryan Hernandez for the rest of the year. “We had a little success throwing, but we’ve got to find some way that we can run the football every now and then.” WEEK 2 Chilhowie (0-1) at Grayson County (0-1) Friday, 7:30 at Bill Strong Field Last week Grayson County lost at Alleghany, N.C. 21-20 Chilhowie lost to Marion 10-7 Last meeting 2001 (Chilhowie won 28-15, Region C semifinals) Last Grayson County win Grayson is 0-2 in the series Common opponents None to date The series 1996ee"#Chilhowie 34-7 2001ee"#Chilhowie 28-15 # playoffs Overall Chilhowie leads 2-0 The season Grayson CountyChilhowie L at Alleghany 21-208/28L to Marion 10-7 Chilhowie9/4at Grayson Co. at Rural Retreat9/11Twin Springs Glenvar9/18at Fort Chiswell at Carroll County9/25Open at Radford10/2Virginia High Galax10/9at George Wythe Open10/16at Northwood at Bland County10/23at PH-Glade Spring Narrows10/30Holston Fort Chiswell11/6Rural Retreat