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Open week a welcome sight

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The Cavaliers and the Maroon Tide both lost key players to injuries during wins last week.

By Craig Worrell, Sports Editor

 Though the circumstances couldn’t be much worse, the timing couldn’t be better for an open week to roll in for Galax and Carroll County.

Normally a time to heal bumps and bruises and to get a jump on preparations for the following week, the Maroon Tide and the Cavaliers are dealing with some serious personnel issues as they both take tonight off.

Galax saw its top two runningbacks injured in a win last week over Craig County, and Carroll County will need to find a truckload of replacements after Ulises Moreno went down with a knee injury against Grayson County. Moreno was Carroll’s leading rusher, a starter in the defensive secondary, its punter, placekicker and kickoff man.

“He fills a lot of different roles for us,” Cavalier coach Tom Hale said. “The open week was perfect because we’ve got time to work some kids and find replacements. It’s doubtful we’ll find anybody as good as him, but if we can find somebody who can just kick extra points, that’s our goal.”

Carroll did have a No. 2 kicker, but Matt Combs is himself recovering from knee surgery. Moreno is awaiting a diagnosis on what may be a torn MCL.

Top Galax ballcarrier Jordan Vaughan suffered a broken foot and is out for six weeks, and though Jerad Brown has been cleared to play, it’s still yet to be determined how much a banged-up hand will let him contribute, especially on offense. Also, quarterback Terrance Mazon is nursing a twisted ankle.

“We haven’t worked much this week because our guys are pretty banged up,” Tide coach Mark Dixon said. “We’re not going to change what we do, it’s just a matter of getting the new guys in and getting them some reps. We’re too far along to change offenses. It’s a matter of stepping up and playing.”

Steven Peoples, a 5-10, 175-pound freshman, is prepping at runningback for Galax.

Carroll County was hoping to regain the services of 6-5, 270-pound senior lineman Hunter Grubb this week, but Hale said Grubb’s injured knee doesn’t appear to be responding to therapy as well as had been hoped. Grubb went down in the first half of the Cavaliers’ benefit game against Galax.

Halfway home

The season has already reached its halfway point for all three Twin County teams, which means it’s not too early to begin looking at the VHSL ratings.

Despite dropping two of its last three games, Galax (3-2) sits in second place in Region C Division 1 with a rating of 14.00, just ahead of Covington (13.75) and Craig County (13.60). Outside of the top four, the remaining seven teams in the region all have either one or zero wins, although Bath County (1-3, 13.00, fifth) can never be counted out.

The VHSL ratings reflect a mathematical formula that awards points for wins based on an opponent’s school enrollment, plus points for wins by an opponent. It has nothing to do with polls. District champions automatically advance to the playoffs, with the rating scale used to determine the rest of the field.

Eastern Montgomery (5-0) currently has a firm grip on the lead with a 19.60 rating, but the Mustangs have yet to open Three Rivers District play where the likes of Radford, Giles, Glenvar and Floyd County await.

Grayson County is currently sixth in Region C Division 2. In golf terms, the Blue Devils’ schedule is a risk-reward layout. Grayson’s nondistrict opponents are potentially rich in VHSL points, but there isn’t a guaranteed win among them. Grayson (3-2) will play or has played four of the five teams it currently trails, and missed a golden opportunity to pick up a bunch of points last week, losing in overtime to Carroll County, a double-A team that realistically can finish 7-3.

The Cavaliers are sixth in Region IV, Division 4, but No. 4 Pulaski County is serving a one-year postseason ban, and Carroll trails No. 5 Bassett by less than one point.

Looking ahead

Next year begins a new two-year scheduling cycle, and the landscapes of both the SWD and MED will change as a result of shifts in classification at Graham and Grundy, both of which are dropping out of the Southwest and into Group A. Galax and Grayson County will need to make room for the G-Men as they enter the MED in 2011, while Carroll County must find replacements for Graham as well as Grundy, which is heading to the Black Diamond District.

Looking to strengthen its schedule, Galax is dropping Northwood, Alleghany and Covington, to be replaced by Glenvar (week 1), Floyd County (week 2) and Graham (week 8).

“As hard as we can make our schedule, before we get into district play, is what we need to do,” Dixon said. Mission accomplished.

Grayson County is dropping Radford and Glenvar. Graham will fill the Radford slot while a week 4 opponent has yet to be found.

Carroll County’s schedule will shuffle as well. Patrick County was gracious enough to move from week 2 into the week 10 slot vacated by Graham, which allowed the Cavaliers to pick up Mount Airy, N.C. for the second game of the season. Carroll is still looking for somebody to fill Grundy’s spot.

Despite their geographical proximity, the Cavaliers and the Bears have never met on the football field. Although competing in North Carolina’s smallest classification, Mt. Airy should be a solid opponent. The 2008 1-A state champions, Mt. Airy saw its 31-game winning streak come to an end in last year’s title game. The Bears (currently 3-2) are coming off a three-year stretch in which they went 13-1, 16-0 and 15-1. They will be only the second out-of-state opponent ever for Carroll, and the Cavaliers’ first since playing Surry Central, N.C. in 1976.