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HILLSVILLE –– Let the history books show that one of the charter members of the Southwest District played its final league contest in Hillsville on Nov. 5, 2010.
Graham, an official member of the SWD since its creation in the 50s and since the 30s a part of the group that would become the SWD, will play its last regular season contest as a Group AA school tonight when the G-Men visit Carroll County for a 7:30 kickoff at Tommy Thompson Field.
A thorn in the Cavaliers’ side for years, Carroll County hopes to send the G-Men out with a sour taste in their mouths.
“This will be the last time we play, and in the series between the two schools we’ve only beaten them twice,” Carroll County coach Tom Hale said. “So hopefully Friday will be a good way to end the series and go into the playoffs on a winning note.”
A former perennial power, Graham (1-8 overall, 1-4 SWD) has fallen off from its winning ways in recent years, but the G-Men have continued to be a worrisome foe for the Cavaliers simply in part to their spot on Carroll’s schedule. Carroll County (6-3, 4-1) has had many a Richlands hangover affect its play the following week against the G-Men, most notably last season. Following a 21-13 loss to the Blue Tornado that decided the SWD championship, Carroll County came out the next week flat as a fritter and was thumped 35-14 by a Graham team that had started the year with six straight losses.
“Last year we didn’t go down there and give our best effort, and part of that was because of how hard we’d played against Richlands,” said Hale. “But I don’t think this year we’re going to be smarting from the Richlands loss. They totally dominated us. Our kids played hard, but we didn’t leave our minds and hearts at Richlands like we have in the past. Our kids understand that, that is a state championship-caliber team, and for our program to move forward we have to come back and play hard this week.”
After having not allowed a touchdown in four district games, the Cavaliers are coming off a 63-0 pasting at the hands of the Blue Tornado. A better football team Hale has not yet seen.
“Not since I’ve been coaching,” he said. “Even when I was at Pulaski. To just dominate the way they have, they haven’t played a game that wasn’t over at halftime.”
Though Graham doesn’t have a lot of wins due largely to a defense that has allowed more than 40 points per game thus far, the G-Men do have something that can give the Cavaliers trouble.
“They’re young but they’ve got some speed and quickness, both offensively and defensively,” Hale said. “If they get loose we’re not going to catch them.”
Despite a 1-8 mark, Graham can still make the Region IV Division 3 playoffs, but would have to win tonight to edge Tunstall for the last spot. Carroll County wasn’t harmed by last week’s loss – actually seeing its VHSL rating rise – and is locked into the Division 4 field win or lose. The Cavaliers can open the playoffs as high as a No. 3 seed but can do no worse than No. 5.
Christiansburg has clinched the No. 1 spot with either Salem or Magna Vista at No. 2. Bassett, Abingdon and Blacksburg are vying for the final two berths.
In the Division 3, Richlands will be No. 1 followed most likely by Cave Spring, with Grundy at No 3 at Martinsville at No. 4. Marion will fill one of the final two slots, with the other occupied by either Graham or Tunstall.
Graham (1-8, 1-4) at Carroll County (6-3, 4-1)
Friday, 7:30 p.m., Tommy Thompson Field
Local radio: WWEZ FM 101.1, Hillsville
Graham lost to Abingdon 52-21
Carroll County lost to Richlands 63-0
2009 (Graham won 35-14)
Last Carroll County win
Graham lost 29-25 Sept. 24
Carroll County won 39-0 Oct. 15
Graham lost 35-14 Oct. 8
Carroll County won 20-0 Oct. 22
Graham won 41-14 Oct. 15
Carroll County won 50-13 Sept. 17
Graham lost 56-14 Oct. 22
Carroll County lost 63-0 last week
Graham lost 52-21 last week
Carroll County won 28-3 Oct. 8
Graham Carroll County
L to Bluefield, WV 48-0 8/27 L to Bassett 17-14
L to Cave Spring 47-14 9/3 D Patrick Co. 47-19
Open 9/10 to C’burg 40-0
L to Virginia High 47-31 9/17 D Tazewell 50-13
L to Marion 29-25 9/24 D Grayson Co. 36-35 OT
L to Princeton, WV 37-7 10/1 Open
L to Grundy 35-14 10/8 D Abingdon 28-3
D Tazewell 41-14 10/15 D Marion 39-0
L to Richlands 56-14 10/22 D Grundy 20-0
L to Abingdon 52-21 10/29 L to Richlands 63-0
at Carroll County 11/3 Graham
2004–Carroll County 28-13
2008–Carroll County 47-6
Graham leads 14-2