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INDEPENDENCE –– Just how strong is the Western Section Division 2 playoff field? If it had been put together by a selection committee instead of a mathematical formula, there would be howling out of Pittsylvania County about Dan River being under-appreciated.
The No. 10 seed in a 16-team field, Dan River (8-3) will venture into Bill Strong Field tonight for a second-round meeting with No. 2 Grayson County (10-1) after having knocked off seventh-seeded and defending state champion Gate City on the road, 33-10, last Saturday.
The Wildcats’ low placement in the bracket is due to a combination of its three losses and an exceptionally strong upper half of the bracket, though Dan River’s three defeats were at the hands of teams that are all currently 10-1 and still alive in the postseason.
The Wildcats will also be bringing with them a member of Virginia Tech’s 2012 signing class. Grayson County can only hope Trey Edmunds throws the ball.
A 6-foot-2, 205-pound senior, Edmunds is 0-for-5 with three interceptions as a passer, but that’s where his shortcomings cease. Rated the No. 7 player in the state and the No. 18 outside linebacker in the country, Edmunds is the son of head coach Terrell Edmunds, who played tight end for Maryland before embarking on a six-year NFL career in Miami and Seattle that included two Pro Bowl appearances.
The younger Edmunds has gotten it done on both sides of the ball for Dan River, rushing for 2,120 yards and 26 touchdowns on 222 attempts. Generally regarded as a recruit for Bud Foster’s defense in Blacksburg, Edmunds has racked up 114 tackles and three interceptions.
Faced with a 10-0 halftime deficit last week at Gate City, the Wildcats lined up in a single-back formation in the second half and scored 33 unanswered points to keep their season alive. Edmunds carried 32 times for 220 yards, scoring on touchdown runs of 48, 3 and 9 yards.
The next-busiest Wildcat ballcarrier, Deqwontez McMoore, has one-third as many attempts as Edmunds, carrying 75 times for 479 yards and nine TDs. Tyquonne Adams gets about five carries per game.
Edmunds’ defensive stats are impressive but sit second on the list behind defensive end Arshay Jefferson, who has been in on 133 tackles. McMoore and Adams have both surpassed 80 tackles for the season.
Grayson County rebounded nicely from its lone loss of the season, a Week 10 setback to Galax, by holding down Graham 35-15 in last week’s opening round.
Xavier Rodriguez carried 13 times for 221 yards, putting him near the 1,500-yard mark for the season to go along with 26 touchdowns. Max Rodgers has rolled up nearly 1,700 yards of offense, completing 57 passes for 1,261 yards and 14 touchdowns while running 63 times for another 408 yards and eight scores. His main target has been his brother Mikey Rodgers with 30-plus catches for more than 700 yards and five touchdowns, while fullback Darren Anderson has accounted for 676 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns despite missing parts or all of four games with a foot injury.
WESTERN SECTION PLAYOFFS
#10 Dan River (8-3) at#2 Grayson County (10-1)
Friday, 7 p.m., Bill Strong Field
Admission: $7 (VHSL passes only)
Dan River advanced to the playoffs out of the ultra-competitive Dogwood District, which sent five of its seven football-playing schools to the postseason and was 5-0 as a league last week. The Wildcats’ three defeats were competitive losses to Gretna, Appomattox and Amelia County, teams that are all currently 10-1 and still alive in the playoffs. Dan River is led by Trey Edmunds, a linebacker-runningback who has committed to Virginia Tech.
Grayson County tied a school record with its 10th win last week and snapped a 13-game slide in the postseason. The Blue Devils have three ballcarriers with more than 400 yards on the year, led by Xavier Rodriguez with 1,487 yards and 26 touchdowns. Sophomore quarterback Max Rodgers has thrown for 1,261 yards and 14 scores against just two interceptions.
Dan River defeated Gate City 33-10
Grayson County defeated Graham 35-15
This is the first meeting between the two schools
Dan River Grayson County
D Tunstall 35-6 8/26 D Alleghany NC 55-12
L to Amelia County 28-14 9/2 D Chilhowie 40-7
D Bartlett Yancey NC 34-12 9/9 D R. Retreat 52-13
D Nottoway 14-12 9/16 D Clintwood 61-6
D Wm.Campbell 44-13 9/2 3D Carroll Co. 26-19
D Chatham 43-20 9/30 Open
D Nelson County 64-28 10/7 D Graham 41-3
L to Appomattox 24-7 10/14 D Bland Co. 56-13
Open 10/21 D Ft. Chiswell 41-40
D Altavista 36-11 10/28 D Narrows 48-6
L to Gretna 21-7 11/4 L to Galax 21-6
Division 2 Western Section playoffs
D Gate City 33-10 11/11 D Graham 35-15
at Grayson County 11/18 Dan River