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In looking for a comparison between this week’s opponent and a more familiar team, Galax coach Mark Dixon mentioned Radford’s offense, and the defense of last year’s Eastern Montgomery team.
Dixon’s wife, Wendy, associated Castlewood, the Maroon Tide’s foe in the second round of the Western Section Division 1 playoffs, with a team Galax should know very well.
“My wife put it best. She said this is like Galax last year going to Bath County,” said Dixon, referring to the underdog 2010 Maroon Tide’s upset win over the Chargers in the Region C semifinals. “It’s a team that is plenty capable, that is sound and knows what it’s doing, but a team that has been overlooked. I’m trying to get our kids to understand that Castlewood is in the same situation that we were in last year, when we went up there and pulled off a win that a lot of people didn’t give us a chance to get.”
The No. 8 Blue Devils enter at 8-3 after avenging one of their regular season losses in last week’s first round. Trailing Rye Cove 24-14 midway through the fourth quarter, Castlewood exploded for 24 unanswered points in a 38-24 win.
“What worries me is their ability to score quick,” Dixon said. “They run kind of a spread/wing-T combo deal. Scheme-wise they remind of Radford a lot on offense.”
Aaron Kennedy started the rally with a 31-yard touchdown catch from Trevor Hileman. Castlewood then recovered two onside kicks – one of them unintentional – to set up scores by Hileman on a 3-yard run and a Reid Edmonds run of 17 yards.
As the seeding number drops exponentially from No. 16 to No. 8, so does the margin for error. Galax was overpowering but unenthusiastic in last week’s 64-7 win over Holston.
“I’ll show them the film and we’ll see how good [Castlewood is] and that they are competitors and we’ll have to rise up,” Dixon said.
His fear of a hangover following the enormity of the Grayson County game came to life a week later in the Tide’s postseason opener, 64 points or not.
“As wonderful as the Grayson game was, it’s been difficult to get the kids to realize there is something else out there to play for,” he said. “That game had risen to a level to where it was like the end of the season, and we need to get the kids to realize that there is a lot more that they can accomplish, or at least try to accomplish.”
Galax got it done with ease and without its stars in the headlines last week. Three players rushed for more than 100 yards – none of them named Jordan Vaughan – and five receivers combined on 10 receptions for 150 yards – none of them named Deion George.
In Vaughan’s case, a banged-up hip limited him to five carries on the night. Donte Peoples dinged an ankle during his 131-yard rushing effort. Dixon said their status for Friday won’t be known until today or Thursday. While the two are key offensive components, their absence would be greater on defense.
“We’ve got tailbacks,” Dixon said. “It’s a matter of who is going to be available on defense. We don’t have another Donte at cornerback, and we don’t have another Jordan at linebacker.”
Dixon was irked by the meager amount of support at the Holston game Friday, but he softened his view following a weekend with which to reflect. At six bucks a pop, a family has to cough up some serious coin to attend a playoff game. If there was a game to stay home from, Friday was probably it.
“Our fans have been wonderful,” he said. “There has got to be a way to set up family packages, things for the kids, to make high school football more accessible to the community, especially small communities, but I’m getting up on a soap box.”
Dixon does expect the enthusiasm to return.
“I think it will pick up,” he said. “My hope is that people realize that any week could be the last chance to see these kids play. Whatever happens with this group, they’ve done a tremendous amount the last two years. They’re 20-4 in football. They’ve lost two basketball games in two years. That’s six losses in two sports over two years.
“I’m just nostalgic about these kids because they’re the first group that I coached. If this is the last time they walk up that hill, I hope people are there to thank them.”
WESTERN SECTION PLAYOFFS
#8 Castlewood (8-3) at #1 Galax (11-0)
Friday, 7 p.m., Galax High School
Admission $7 (VHSL passes only)
castlewood tied with Radford for the No. 7 spot in the Western Section but settled for No. 8 after Radford won the tiebreaker. The Blue Devils scored 24 straight points from the midway point of the fourth quarter in last week’s first round to overcome a 10-point Rye Cove lead. The win was the first postseason victory in the eight-year tenure of coach David Scammell, and it avenged a regular-season loss to Rye Cove.
GAlax set a school record last week with its 11th win, trouncing Holston 64-7. The Maroon Tide point total was its highest since a 69-0 win over Auburn in 1984. Three Galax runningbacks topped 100 yards in the win – Donte Peoples (seven carries for 131 yards), Joey Dixon (17 for 121) and Steven Peoples (9 for 116). Austin Pack was 10-of-15, hitting five receivers for a total of 150 yards.
Castlewood defeated Rye Cove 38-24
Galax defeated Holston 64-7
This is the first meeting between the two schools
D Haysi 42-14 8/26 D Glenvar 17-14 OT
L to Honaker 29-8 9/2 D Floyd County 37-21
D Thomas Walker 26-22 9/9 D EastMont 56-12
D Central-Wise 32-14 9/16 D Radford 43-0
L to Rye Cove 20-13 9/23 D Craig County 40-14
L to Grundy 21-20 9/30 Open
D Twin Valley 39-14 10/7 D Fort Chiswell 52-0
D Ervinton 47-15 10/14 D Graham 45-14
D Twin Springs 55-28 10/21 D Narrows 48-7
D Eastside 24-12 10/28 D Bland County 49-0
Open 11/4 D Grayson Co. 21-6
Division 1 Western Section playoffs
D Rye Cove 38-24 11/11 D Holston 64-7
at Galax 11/18 Castlewood