Bulldogs, Warriors ready for region semifinals

Published 8:59 pm Thursday, November 21, 2019

The Bulldogs and Warriors head into this week’s playoff matchup eyeing a chance at reaching their respective region championship games.

Nansemond River High School (No. 6) at Maury High School (No. 2)

After defeating Indian River High School in dominating fashion last week, the Warriors are expected to have another tough test in Maury.

Email newsletter signup

Maury is the Eastern District champion, and this will be the third meeting between the two teams, having played once this year and the last two seasons. In last year’s matchup, the Warriors were the host and had command against Maury until the fourth quarter, where they mounted a comeback and escaped with a one-point win.

Maury is the reigning region champions, and the Warriors know they will have to show up to Powhatan Field Friday night ready to go.

Even though the Warriors will be considered the underdogs in this matchup, they feel confident about what they can achieve as a group. Coach Justin Conyers and the Warriors know if they stick to what they do, they will be in good shape.

“I know that a lot of people are probably not going to believe in us, but we have the players, the coach and team to do something special,” Conyers said.

The Commodores have playmakers all over their offense, which features nationally ranked four-star receiver KeAndre Lambert. Conyers stressed the Warriors knowing where the playmakers are on the field and doing their jobs on the defensive end.

“We have to limit the big plays,” Conyers said. “They have some playmakers and we are going to need to be technically sound.”

The Warriors have had one of the most potent rushing attacks in South Hampton Roads all season. It starts with X’zavion Evans, who has rushed for more than 1,300 yards and 15-plus touchdowns, and Brent Stratton has also rushed strong in the offense, adding 170 on the ground last week against Indian River. With the multiple options the Warriors have on offense, Maury will need to be strong in its tackling efforts.

“We have to continue maximizing our opportunities on offense,” Conyers said. “When we get in the red zone, we have to capitalize on those chances and make sure we put points on the board.

If the Warriors win Friday night, they will have reached their second region championship game in the last three seasons.

Nansemond River and Maury will matchup at 7 p.m. Friday night at Powhatan Field at Old Dominion University. Admission is $10.

King’s Fork High School (No. 6) at Churchland High School (No. 2)

The Bulldogs may have surprised many in their playoff win last week when they defeated Warhill High School 25-8 on the road. King’s Fork went into the game with a 3-7 record with Warhill holding an 8-2 record. It goes to show anything can happen in playoff football, but Coach Kermit Buggs was happy with how his team competed, as they helped him earn a playoff victory in his first year as coach of the Bulldogs.

A different challenge awaits King’s Fork as they travel to Churchland. The Truckers hold a 9-2 record and are currently on a three-game winning streak after earning a first-round win over Menchville High School.

“We have to go out and make sure we are stopping the run,” Buggs said. “We have to make sure we are putting points on the board and that we are taking care of the ball. We have to come prepared, and that happens during the practice week, so we feel good about where we are.”

Buggs mentioned that he felt like playing in the Southeastern District has prepared the Bulldogs for the playoffs, and they hope playing in those tough matchups every week during the regular season will provide a boost as well against a tough Churchland team.

“We play in one of the best conferences in the state,” Buggs said. “Week in and week out, it is a battle, so we feel like seeing those types of teams and battling with those kinds of teams was going to help us going forward into the playoffs.”

Last week, the Bulldogs offense was able to make plays with quarterback Leonta Johnson distributing the ball effectively. King’s Fork will need to build on that this week against Churchland.

King’s Fork will be at Churchland at 7 p.m. Friday. Admission for the game is $10.