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Galax’s first trip to Covington in 25 years will give a new generation of Maroon Tide football players a first-hand look at Casey Field, a dual-purpose stadium that in addition to the Cougar football field, houses one of the nicer baseball diamonds in Region C.
In keeping with that theme, the Maroon Tide will try to cover all the bases and take away the home run hitter.
In a nondistrict clash between Region C Division 1 playoff hopefuls, Galax will face a potent spread attack spearheaded by quarterback Troy Helton as the Tide tries to maintain its No. 2 position in the region’s Division 1 standings.
A 5-foot-10, 155-pound sophomore, Helton isn’t the biggest, but he certainly hasn’t gone unnoticed by Galax coach Mark Dixon.
“From a pure speed standpoint, he may be the fastest kid we’ll play,” Dixon said. “He really concerns me. We’ve played some great quarterbacks. Shawn Christian [EastMont] certainly can do it all and Dontae Carter [Radford], you saw what he did to us, but this kid is more electric on his feet than those guys.”
That’s saying a lot. But with good reason. Of Covington’s 23 touchdowns this season, Helton has had a hand in all but five of them, scoring 18 TDs as a runner, a passer, a return man and even one as a receiver. He is ninth in Timesland with a 123-yard rushing average.
“The idea is to spread you out and give him room to do his thing, and he can really do it,” said Dixon.
Galax’s last look at a spread offense wasn’t its most enjoyable night of the year as the Tide allowed a season-high 38 points to Eastern Montgomery in a 12-point loss in early September. Though the Covington attack isn’t as balanced as EastMont’s, it can still be plenty dangerous. Dixon said Galax will pay attention to the edges but while keeping a keen eye on Helton.
“If they make us spread out like [against EastMont], it’s going to be another 38-point night,” he said.
After falling 37-18 to James River last week, Covington holds down the sixth spot in Region C Division 1, which will send six teams to the playoffs. Galax held on to the No. 2 spot despite its 20-16 loss at Fort Chiswell. It was Galax’s second loss of the season in which it had at least one shot at the end zone in the final moments.
“There are a lot of reasons this game’s important,” Dixon said. “These are the teams we have to play and be capable of beating if we’re going to be successful in our region. And it’s important from a mind-set that we’re building, but we need to continue moving forward. We’ve been in some close games that we still feel good about. Sometimes you lose a couple of close games and morale starts to go down. We haven’t had that. But some day you have to win them.”
Galax (4-3) at Covington (3-4)
Friday, 7 p.m., Casey Field
Radio: WWWJ 1360AM, www.wwwj1360.com
Galax lost to Fort Chiswell 20-16
Covington lost to James River 37-18
2009 – Covington won 30-26
Last Galax win
Galax is winless in the series
None to date
The series (since 1970)
Covington leads 2-0
D Northwood 45-0 8/27 L to Alleghany, Va. 26-6
D Alleghany, NC 35-0 9/3 Open
L to EastMont 38-26 9/10 D Bland Co. 38-0
L to Radford 27-21 9/17 D Page Co. 26-0
D Craig County 30-21 9/24 L to Glenvar 35-14
Open 10/1 D Narrows 36-20
D Grayson Co. 23-14 10/8 L to Bath Co. 27-12
L to Ft. Chiswell 20-16 10/15 L to James River 37-18
at Covington 10/22 Galax
Bland County 10/29 Craig County
at Narrows 11/3 at Parry McCluer