By BRIAN WOODSON
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
The Giles Spartans will look to Mann-up tonight when playoff football begins.
Giles (9-1), winners of eight in a row, will host James River (7-3) in the opening round of the West Section, Division 2 playoffs at Stephen C. Ragsdale Stadium. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m.
Leading the Spartans’ patented single wing offense is a bruising offensive line that has allowed Ian Mann to run, unofficially, for 1,904 yards and 35 touchdowns. He has eclipsed the 200-yard mark four times, including 286 last week against Radford.
The 6-foot, 175-pound senior also had six touchdowns in the opening half against Glenvar and has scored four times in four other games this season.
Not bad numbers for Giles, which lost two backs off last year’s 10-2 squad that combined for more than 2,700 yards and 40 touchdowns. The Spartans were 9-1 in the regular season in 2011 before losing in the second round of the playoffs to Gretna.
Giles captured the Three Rivers District this season with a 5-0 league mark, and all Mann did in those games was accumulate 1,008 yards and 21 touchdowns.
Stop Mann, which hasn’t happened often, and the Spartans can turn to 5-6, 144-pound sophomore Brett Whitlow, who has also nearly reached 1,000 yards on his own, and has at least 14 touchdowns. He had 183 yards and three scores in a win over Tazewell.
Other weapons on offense for the Spartans include Dusty Boggess, Tyler Perdue and Hunter Mathias, along with Kearsley Dillon and Jared Farmer on the offensive line.
Giles has scored 456 (45.6 ppg) points this season, including at least 41 in eight straight games, reaching into the 50s twice and into the 60s on two occasions.
James River has struggled at times against the run this season, allowing at least a couple of backs this season to reach into the mid-200s on the ground. The Knights have surrendered 23.7 points a contest, including 42 and 47 in a two-game skid that was followed by its current four-game win streak.
While Giles throws the ball about as often as they lose, James River has the ability to do both. The Knights, which won the Pioneer District with a 4-0 record, has a 1,000 yard rusher in Chris Moore, who had a season-high 254 yards and three touchdowns against Parry McCluer.
James River has played at least two quarterbacks this season, including Sherman Austin, who has thrown for 216 and 156 yards in a couple of games, while Kyle King has also eclipsed the century mark a few times.
Trey Chilcott and Dylan Flint are both talented receivers, who have had big games for the Knights.
Defensively, Giles has been stingy, allowing 19.7 points a game, with some of that coming when the outcomes have been decided. Garrett Lee, who is one of the state’s best kickers, has returned at least two interceptions for scores, including a 100-yard return against Glenvar.
Cody Rhodes, a 6-3, 252-pound defensive end, and linebacker Chad Randel are just two of several talented stoppers for the Giles defense.
All three losses for James River have come to Division 3 schools. Giles’ lone defeat came to Division 4 Christiansburg.
—Contact Brian Woodson