Bulldogs, Warriors open seasons tonight

Published 8:05 pm Wednesday, September 2, 2009

King’s Fork (last year, 4-6 overall, 3-6 Southeastern) at Churchland (6-5, 5-2 Eastern) – 7 p.m.

Last meeting – First meeting ever

The Truckers made the Division 5 playoffs last season for the first time since 1997, losing to eventual state champion Phoebus in the first round. Most of Churchland’s talent returns this season and has higher goals.

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If Laray Kindred and the Bulldog offense is going to have time to work, KF’s offensive line, which head coach Joe Jones said is improved through an offseason of hard work, will have to step up to a big challenge to start the season.

Churchland’s defense held opponents to 12 points a game last season and is led by defensive ends Dominique Guinn-Bailey and Keevon Newsom. Both Guinn-Bailey and Newsom are NCAA Division I recruits. In addition to the pressure coming from the ends, Churchland has a couple huge linemen on the offensive and defensive lines in Richard Coles (6-foot-4, 390 pounds) and Ali Scott (6-foot-4, 330 pounds).

King’s Fork and Churchland were in a close race for one of the last Div. 5 playoff spots last season and could be close in the power rankings again as this campaign moves along.

Nansemond River (1-9, 0-9) at Grassfield (7-4, 6-3) – 7 p.m.

Last season – Grassfield 35, Nansemond River 6

Grassfield enters its third football season. In the Grizzlies’ inaugural year, a win by forfeit over Nansemond River was their only win. Last season, Grassfield went 6-3 in the district and reached the playoffs, losing to Green Run in the regional quarterfinals.

The Warriors are shooting for their first district victory since Oct. 26, 2007 vs. Hickory and face a well-balanced team to start the season. Grassfield mixed run and pass well last season. Junior quarterback Tyler Clark enters his third season guiding Grassfield’s offense. Defensively, the Grizzlies held opponents to 13.8 points per game in 2008, and that average includes 49 points by Green Run and 37 by Oscar Smith.