Column by BRIAN WOODSON
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
The high school football season is now officially over.
All that remain are the memories. Here are a few of my mine. I could go longer, but my girlfriend is tired of waiting for me to finish. I am working in a press box in Salem, while she is shopping in Roanoke.
Best team: Honaker (13-2): Honaker got all the way to the Group A, Division 1 state championship game, losing a hard-fought 17-10 decision to nearby George Wythe.
If those teams played 10 times, they would probably win five apiece. They were that close. The Maroons just had the edge on this day
Best player: Ian Mann. The Giles running back had to replace not one, but two 1,000 yard rushers, and did it in school record fashion, setting seven school records, including 2,328 yards and 37 touchdowns. Not surprisingly he was selected as the Three Rivers District offensive player of the year.
He was also recognized last week as the Pocahontas Coal Association/Bluefield Daily Telegraph Player of the Week.
Best coaching staff: Doug Hubbard, Honaker. The Tigers were the only local team to get past the second round of the playoffs, and they got all the way to the final game. Hubbard was seeking his 187th win in 30 years at Honaker against George Wythe, having been the head man at his alma mater since 1983.
I didn't get to attend as many games as I would have liked _ someone has to be in the office on Friday nights _ but here are the top five games I was able to cover. Most revolved around lots of offense, and not a lot of defense.
1. Bluefield 51, Oak Hill 50. It ended with a Justin Mariotti field goal, a fitting moment for Mariotti, who missed a potential game-winner in the loss to Graham. No team was happier for a fellow teammate than when that ball went through the goal posts.
This game featured 101 points and 941 yards on offense. What it didn't include were many spectators. Where were you?
2. George Wythe 17, Honaker 10: That first game was all about offense, this one came down to field position and defense. George Wythe did it just a little better with a state title on the line.
3. Graham 22, Princeton 16: Perhaps teams will have second thoughts about scheduling the G-Men for homecoming next year. Graham ruined a celebration for schools two weeks in a row. This was Group A vs. Class AAA and the 'little' guys won.
4. Bluefield 52, Princeton 44: This could be higher and probably should be. The first quarter lasted nearly an hour. Speed was everywhere. Montel Leggett and Tahj-Sho Johnson were the featured backs, but I would like to see a sprint between Lamont Lee of Princeton and Bluefield's D.J. Stewart.
5. Narrows 34, Bland County 9: Narrows stopped a long losing streak in this one, but what made this so special is the small school aspect. Two of the smallest football playing schools in Virginia, a large crowd was present to see it and no one was happier than the Green Wave players and fans, who seemingly refused to leave the field.
There were numerous individual performances that I was able to see, but here are five of them, one of which is a player not in our coverage area.
1.Ian Mann, Giles: Mann ran for 326 yards and three touchdowns, and also threw for a touchdown, leading the Spartans to a 41-14 playoff win over James River.
2.Jalen Jones, Oak Hill: Jones ran for 282 yards and three touchdowns in a 51-50 loss to Bluefield. Jones took a pounding in this game, leaving twice with injuries, but kept coming back and running for more.
3.Montel Leggett, Bluefield: There were numerous stars in this game, but Leggett had 200 yards rushing and three touchdowns in the shootout win over Princeton.
4.Colton Staten, Richlands: The Richlands junior ran for 211 yards and two touchdowns. Jalen Jordan wasn’t bad for Tazewell either, catching three passes for 158 yards and two scores.
5.Joe Hall, Narrows: Hall was only able to play one game this season because of injuries, but threw for 165 yards and a touchdown to Chandler Burton in this win over Bland County.
Top offensive line: It has to be Giles. Just watching Kearsley Dillon, Jared Farmer and Miller Collins open holes for Mann was a treat to watch.
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Losing skids snapped: There were several of them, including Mount View (31), Tazewell (18), Narrows (18) and Princeton (10).
Current losing skids: PikeView (17) and Bland County (14).
Getting better: Montcalm finished 5-4, the second winning record in school history. A game with Ervinton was canceled when that school closed its doors, or the Generals may have reached the six-win mark.
Biggest distraction: Graham band. I am not one to complain about a band, especially since I played the trumpet myself, but when the game is in progress, give it a rest. Drummers are fine people, but they don’t need to display their talents for all to hear the entire first, second and fourth quarters. They do give us a break in the third, for that my ears thank you.
All-Four Seasons Country football team: Look for it on Christmas day.
Brian Woodson is the sports editor for the Daily Telegraph. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org