Playoff implications emerge on Friday

Published 9:35 pm Thursday, September 25, 2014

St. Anne’s-Belfield (3-1) at Nansemond-Suffolk (3-2) – 7 p.m.

Last season: Nansemond-Suffolk 47, St. Anne’s-Belfield 0

The Nansemond-Suffolk Academy football team enters a contest tonight that could have significant bearing on its postseason prospects.

The Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association released its state football ratings for Division II schools, which put the Saints at No. 3 and their visitors tonight, St. Anne’s-Belfield School, at No. 2.

Nansemond-Suffolk Academy senior defensive ends David Gough, No. 44, and Camden Sutton, No. 56, look to take down an opposing player. They will be among the healthy Saints needed tonight. (Janine DeMello photo)

Nansemond-Suffolk Academy senior defensive ends David Gough, No. 44, and Camden Sutton, No. 56, look to take down an opposing player. They will be among the healthy Saints needed tonight. (Janine DeMello photo)

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NSA coach Lew Johnston said, this year, the Charlottesville squad is “much improved, a veteran team. They were very young last year, they’ve got most everybody back.”

He said their senior quarterback Lee Parkhill is throwing the ball extremely well, connecting with junior wideout Jalen Harrison and public school transfer junior wideout Kareem Johnson.

The Saints have shaken off a 62-40 loss last week to Bishop Sullivan Catholic High School, but injuries continue to pose a major problem.

Senior running back Addison Peak is out (mild shoulder separation), junior defensive back Graham Moore is still out (hamstring injury) and sophomore linebacker Jack Bivins is questionable (flu).

Other players who will be out include sophomore linebacker Ke’Shaun Moore (thumb fracture), freshman lineman Chris Murphy (wrist fracture) and junior tight end/defensive tackle Jack Johnson (torn anterior cruciate ligament).

Indian River (1-2) at Nansemond River (2-1) – 7 p.m.

Last Season: Nansemond River 35, Indian River 14

Nansemond River High School’s football team has prepared this week for its first game this season following a loss, and Warriors coach David Coccoli was positive about how it went.

“I think we’re all right,” he said. “We need to get back out there and play a game.”

He said he thought his team made a lot of mistakes during last Friday’s 35-31 loss to visiting Great Bridge High School.

“We’re looking forward to getting them corrected Friday night,” he said.

Coccoli connected the dots on what kind of a challenge Indian River High School will pose, noting the Braves beat Lakeland High School last week, and Lakeland beat Great Bridge.

The Braves run a spread offense, which features a good athlete at quarterback in junior Tyre Givers-Wilson.

The Warriors will also have to keep an eye on sophomore wideout Devon Hunter, who scored the winning touchdown against Lakeland, and senior running back Kelvonte Bethea, who ran for 150 yards against the Cavaliers.

Nansemond River has avoided major injuries so far as Coccoli said the team was in reasonable shape for this time of the season.

King’s Fork (3-0) at Great Bridge (2-1) – 7 p.m.

Last season: King’s Fork 44, Great Bridge 43, 2 OT

The King’s Fork High School football team is well-acquainted with Great Bridge High School’s ability to keep up in a shootout. The Bulldogs narrowly edged it out last year, and the Wildcats are just coming off a back-and-forth 35-31 win at Nansemond River High School.

“They’re a very explosive team, offensively,” KF coach Joe Jones said. “They like to get up and go. They’re snapping the ball as soon as they’re allowed to snap the ball.”

He complimented junior quarterback Jacob Wilson for doing a great job leading the Great Bridge offense, improving significantly from last year to this year. Wilson threw for 180 yards and a touchdown last week and also ran for 84 yards.

Jones said the Bulldogs defense has been preparing to keep up with the Wildcats’ up-tempo pace.

King’s Fork will also look to contain senior Brandon Jones, who Coach Jones said impresses him at defensive end. Brandon Jones is also dangerous at running back, running for 96 yards against the Warriors, with three touchdowns, including the game-winner.

A healthy Bulldogs squad must also limit senior wideout Kelvin Holloway and sophomore wideout Austin Wood.

Oscar Smith (2-1) at Lakeland (1-2) – 7 p.m.

Last season: Oscar Smith 56, Lakeland 6

Lakeland High School football coach Bryan Potts gave insight into what it is like preparing for a juggernaut like Oscar Smith High School, which is always in the hunt for the 6A state title and has not lost to a Southeastern District opponent for more than a few years.

“It’s more of a mental preparation than anything,” he said.

Potts said he is a realist, acknowledging the Tigers’ fortes — size, strength and speed.

“We’re not bigger than they are, we’re not stronger than they are, we’re not faster than they are,” he said.

But he has tried to make sure the Cavaliers take things one play at a time, knowing the game plan and what their assignments are.

With no key injuries, Lakeland will seek to limit senior running back Deshawn McClease, a Virginia Tech commit, who has been gaining yards lately on the outside.

“We’ve got to play very disciplined on the edge,” Potts said.

The Cavaliers will also try to put pressure on sophomore quarterback Shon Mitchell.

Offensively, Lakeland will look to get its screen game working early and will seek to establish the run.