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For two similar-sized schools, each with a proud football tradition, and situated an easy drive down Interstate 81 from one another, it’s somewhat surprising that Grayson County and Chilhowie have met only three times on the football field, with two of those meeting being playoff matchups.
Grayson County will try to pick up its first win in this abbreviated series tonight when the Blue Devils take on the Warriors in a 7:30 nondistrict game in Chilhowie.
Both teams are coming off opening-night wins, the Warriors knocking off Smyth County rival Marion 14-0 and Grayson County fresh off a 34-14 whipping of Alleghany, N.C.
A power-oriented offense by tradition, Chilhowie was able to use its speed and quickness to its advantage in the win over Marion. A big reason for that was ex-Marion runningback Brett Johnson, who transferred to Chilhowie over the summer. The combination of he and quarterback Reid Sturgill make for a potent 1-2 attack.
“They’ve got a little more athletic ability in the backfield,” said Grayson County coach Brett McPherson. “I don’t think they’re quite as big up front, but they’ve got some athletic ability back there. They’re just competitors. That’s what I’ve noticed about them. But basically the same old Chilhowie. They’ll try to get numbers on you and if they can run you over, they’ll run you over.”
For that reason McPherson feels the Blue Devils had better strap it on tight Friday.
“I think it will come down to who is the most physical,” he said. “We need to go down there and match their physicality. Traditionally we haven’t been able to go up against nondistrict opponents and match them physically, and that’s what it’ll come down to.”
From what he’s seen so far, Grayson is capable of holding its own in that department.
“At the Floyd [benefit] game they got down there three or four times pretty deep on us,” McPherson said, “and we were looking at each other, you know, ‘Are we going to fold?’ But when the going go tough we kind of bowed our back a little bit.
“I think we’ve got a little more resiliency than in the past. I’d like to think we’re a little bit tougher, but I’m not ready to say that yet. I want to be physical and nasty and tough on defense, but it’s one thing to say it and another thing to see it three or four games in a row.”
The Blue Devils have also showed the ability to put points on the board, averaging nearly 30 points in wins over Floyd County and Alleghany.
“We’ve just got some kids who have been playing for a couple of years, and we’ve got some home run hitters like we haven’t had in the past,” said McPherson.
In the first two games, Xavier Rodriguez has three touchdowns of at least 35 yards, including a 95-yard kickoff return.
“A 12-yard carry has been a big play for us the last couple of years,” McPherson said. “We’ve got some guys that can go a little but further with it now.”
Wideout Eric Harvey averaged nearly 25 yards on his four catches against Alleghany, and quarterback Ethan Hash is showing the progress of being a three-year starter.
A key for Grayson’s offense will be taking advantage of the coverage that Harvey will draw.
“We’re not going to see a traditional defense because nobody’s going to play Eric a straight cover-3 and nobody is going to play him one-on-one,” McPherson said. “It took us a little while on Friday to find out where we could get the mismatch because of the numbers thing with him, but we’ve got to probe around and find out where that is, and get some big plays out of it.”
Grayson County atChilhowie
Grayson County defeated Alleghany, N.C. 34-14
Chilhowie defeated Marion 14-0
2009 – Chilhowie won 32-20
Last Grayson County win
Grayson County is 0-3 in the series
None to date
1996–#Chilhowie 34-7 2009–Chilhowie 32-20
Chilhowie leads 3-0
Grayson County Chilhowie
D Alleghany NC 34-14 8/27 D Marion 14-0
at Chilhowie 9/3 Grayson County
Rural Retreat 9/10 at Twin Springs
at Glenvar 9/17 Fort Chiswell
Carroll County 9/24 Northwood
Radford 10/1 at Virginia High
at Galax 10/8 George Wythe
Open 10/15 Open
Bland County 10/22 Patrick Henry
at Narrows 10/29 at Holston
at Fort Chiswell 11/3 at Rural Retreat