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For a guy with an NFL background coaching the third highest-rated Group A team in the western half of Virginia, Mark Dixon’s credibility has taken a beating the past month or so.
That’s part of the reason Galax has constructed a VHSL rating that stands behind only Grayson County and J.I. Burton in the Western Division.
Dixon fully expected a battle with Radford a few weeks ago. The result? A 43-0 Tide win. He all but stated last week that he wouldn’t be surprised if Fort Chiswell ruined Galax’s spotless record Friday. Boom: 52-0.
Floyd? Nope. EastMont? Nah.
If Dixon’s credibility has taken a nosedive (it hasn’t, of course) it’s because he finds credibility in his opposition.
“I hear it in the hallway,” he said. “ ‘I know Coach, we’re going to lose by three touchdowns.’ I know nobody believes me, but I see it when I watch these teams on film.”
Respect for an opponent, acute disdain for being unprepared and a keen eye for finding strengths and weaknesses in other teams all make for some mighty sound preparation both for a coaching staff and a team.
And credibility comes from Galax’s 6-0 record and the fact that right now, the Division 1 Maroon Tide’s VHSL rating of 21.33 would be high enough to earn a home playoff game in Division 4.
This week, it’s Graham. Of course, Dixon is worried.
“Lots of speed,” he said. “They have some guys who can run. They’re real physical and they play hard. I’m always scared of everybody, but I do think they have the type of athletes who can hurt us. We’re so aggressive on defense that if somebody gets behind us there’s nobody back there. So that worries me.”
Dixon isn’t thrilled with the video he has of the G-Men, either.
“I don’t have a good feel for them because I don’t have good film, so I’m worried about giving up some big plays early by being out of position. We’ll have to make adjustments when we get there.”
The Maroon Tide will experience more than a few firsts tonight when the two teams square off at Mitchell Stadium for a Mountain Empire District contest. The first-ever meeting between the two schools will be Galax’s first time playing on Field Turf, and will also be the first time the Tide will have played a district game in another state.
Mitchell Stadium, located on the West Virginia side of Bluefield, is a 10,000-seat facility that for a while hosted the Virginia Tech-West Virginia rivalry.
“I think it’s wonderful for our kids,” said Dixon. “They’ve heard about it. I know they’re real excited to go there. They were talking about it in the summer, playing there. Any time they have a different experience like that it’s a good thing.”
Graham (2-4 overall) dropped its district opener 41-3 a week ago at Grayson County while the Tide kept steaming along with its shutout of Fort Chiswell.
Obviously Dixon is no football dummy. He sees what he sees in the opposition through the experience that very few folks have. Which begs the question: If those other guys are so good, why does Galax keep beating the tar out of them?
Dixon has used the term ‘unique’ often when talking about his players.
“One thing that makes this group unique, from a football standpoint, is the range they have,” he said. “We can go with guys who are 6-3, 6-4 or 6-5, and they’re not linemen. They’re skill guys and defensive ends. There are times when Deion [George] and Devonte [McKinney] are at safety, and I don’t know how many teams there are who have two 6-3 safeties who can run.
“Like [defensive end] Lawrence [Parsons] coming off the edge at 6-5 with a seven-foot wingspan. He can make a mistake and just reach out and correct it. Things like that you can’t teach.”
Then add in some physical cornerbacks who can run.
“Dante [Ravenell], Donte [Peoples] and Steven [Peoples] are so physical on the edges. So you’ve got safeties in the middle who can get to where they need to be, and guys on the corners who don’t come up to make a tackle but who come up to hit. They really come up to hit you. What we’ve been able to do is make people play faster than they want to play on offense.”
Galax (6-0, 1-0) at Graham (2-4, 0-1)
Friday, 7:30 p.m., Mitchell Stadium, Bluefield, W.Va.
Galax defeated Fort Chiswell 52-0
Graham lost to Grayson County 41-3
This is the first meeting
between the two schools
None to date
D Glenvar 17-14 OT 8/26 L to Bluefield, WV 51-14
D Floyd Co. 37-21 9/2 D Tazewell 21-12
D EastMont 56-12 9/9 L to Richlands 38-0
D Radford 43-0 9/16 Open
D Craig Co. 40-14 9/23 D Marion 28-26
Open 9/30 L to Princeton WV 41-7
D Ft. Chiswell 52-0 10/7 L to Grayson Co. 41-3
at Graham 10/14 Galax
Narrows 10/21 Bland Co.
at Bland Co. 10/28 at Ft. Chiswell
at Grayson Co. 11/4 at Narrows