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HILLSVILLE –– The second time around went pretty well, the first time around.
Having avenged a regular season loss in the first round of the postseason, Carroll County (8-3) will dry to duplicate the feat tonight when the Cavaliers travel to Christiansburg (10-0) for a Region IV Division 4 semifinal game at Porterfield Stadium.
Carroll’s regular season losses included a three-point setback to Bassett and defeats by Christiansburg and Richlands, both currently 10-0. Evening things up against the Bengals was one thing. This week will be another matter entirely, but it’s an opportunity the Cavaliers are looking forward to.
“We’ve come a long way since that first week,” Carroll County coach Tom Hale said. “We played really well Friday night. It was one of the hardest-hitting games I’ve seen a Carroll County team play since I’ve been here.
“I feel like especially our offensive line has gotten a lot better since [the season started]. Our kids are excited about getting another shot to play Christiansburg. We know they’ve got a fine football team, they’re 10-0, but we’re looking forward to the challenge.”
And a challenge it will be. Rolling to its first River Ridge championship, Christiansburg didn’t allow double digits in the opponent’s scoring column until the season was half over. Pulaski County was the only team all year to come within two touchdowns of the Blue Demons.
Such was the shortcoming in the first meeting between the two, a 40-0 Demon win in Week 3. The Cavaliers were held to less than 60 total yards that night.
“That was the key to the whole game,” Hale said. “We couldn’t get first-and-10s. We had some early turnovers that gave them a short field and they scored on every one of them. We had some blown coverages, but offensively, that was the key and will be the key this week. We’ve got to move the football.”
The Cavs need to do that so keep Christiansburg off the field as much as to put points on the board.
“Our defense was on the field the whole time, and you can’t give a team like that opportunity after opportunity,” Hale said.
Unlike the first meeting, Carroll County will be healthy while Hale said the Demons will be without three starters, including wideout/defensive back/placekicker Josh Winkle.
Injuries in the secondary had brought about the first career start for cornerback Chris Smoot, a sophomore transfer from Ohio playing football for the first time since sixth grade. Smoot was targeted by the Christiansburg offense but has made impressive strides since September.
“Now he’s playing on both sides of the ball, he never comes off the field defensively, and he’s on almost every special team that requires covering or returning,” Hale said.
Having seen the two most recent Christiansburg games on film showed Hale nothing he didn’t see two months ago.
“They haven’t changed,” he said. “They’ve got great skill people, a good line and they just say, ‘Here we come, try and stop us.’ Nobody’s had a lot of success doing that. I expect us to perform better, I really do, on both sides of the ball.”
If there is any advantage to a rematch, Hale believes it lay with the Cavaliers.
“In their mind-set, you know, they beat us 40-0, and I know how that goes. You can’t convince those kids that they’re not going to have a great night,” he said. “We don’t think they’re 40 points better than us. We just want to go down there and show that we’re a quality football team and that we can play with teams like Christiansburg.”
Region IV Division 4 semifinals
Carroll County (8-3) at Christiansburg (10-0)
Friday, 7:30 pm, King Field at Porterfield Stadium
Local radio:mix100.7 FM
Carroll County defeated Bassett 39-21
Christiansburg had a bye
Sept. 10 (Christiansburg won 40-0)
Last Carroll County win
Christiansburg won 29-0 Sept. 17
Carroll Co. lost 17-14 Aug. 27, won 39-21 last week
How they advanced
Carroll County entered the playoffs as the No. 4 seed after a 7-3 regular season, with two losses coming to teams that would finish 10-0, Richlands and Christiansburg. The Cavaliers avenged the other loss with last week’s first-round win over Bassett, just the second playoff victory in school history.
Christiansburgis the No. 1 seed and was the most dominant team in Region IV Division 4 during the regular season, compiling a 10-0 record with an average winning margin of 26 points. The Blue Demons had a bye in the first round.
Carroll County Christiansburg
L to Bassett 17-14 8/27 D Floyd Co. 42-12
D Patrick Co. 47-19 9/3 D Giles 35-0
L to Christiansburg 40-0 9/10 D Carroll Co. 40-0
D Tazewell 50-13 9/17 D Bassett 29-0
D Grayson Co. 36-35 ot 9/24 Open
Open 10/1 D PH-Roanoke 40-6
D Abingdon 28-3 10/8 D Pulaski Co. 27-17
D Marion 39-0 10/15 D Hidden Valley 41-14
D Grundy 20-0 10/22 D Salem 28-14
L to Richlands 63-0 10/29 D Cave Spring 42-18
D Graham 60-21 11/5 D Blacksburg 38-21
Region IV Division 4 playoffs
D Bassett 39-21 11/12 Bye
at Christiansburg 11/19 Carroll County
1969–Carroll Co. 22-8
1970–Carroll Co. 49-30
1971–Carroll Co. 12-8
1972–Carroll Co. 56-13
1973–Carroll Co. 28-12
1976–Carroll Co. 25-7
1977–Carroll Co. 28-15
1981–Carroll Co. 23-12
1985–Carroll Co. 21-14
1990–Carroll Co. 16-13
1991–Carroll Co. 23-12
1993–Carroll Co. 48-41
Christiansburg leads 17-12