Appomattox vs. Rustburg football 01

Appomattox running back Cristian Ferguson carries the ball during the Raiders' win over Rustburg at Appomattox County High School on Sept. 6, 2019. 

E.C. Glass at Salem

WHAT: Region 4D championship

KICKOFF: 7 p.m.

RADIO: 94.1 FM, 580 AM

RECORDS: E.C. Glass 11-1. Salem 11-1.

LAST WEEK: Glass rallied to defeat Pulaski 27-10. Salem romped over GW-Danville 48-21.

FACTS: The Hilltoppers survived against a stellar defense last week, even though Pulaski pushed the Glass offense into the backfield or stopped it at the line of scrimmage 13 times. Now ECG has to deal with Salem’s potent offense. Salem averages 39.1 points per game and has been held to fewer than 21 points only twice: in a 49-14 loss to West Virginia heavyweight and three-time defending state champ Martinsburg and in a 12-6 victory over Pulaski. Glass can reach the Class 4 state semifinals tonight if it figures out early how to stop the Spartans’ I formation. The ‘Toppers have to shut down or limit two player of the year candidates: running back Isaiah Persinger (1,322 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns) and quarterback Hunter Chaney (68-of-121 passing for 1,268 yards, 17 touchdowns and five interceptions). The Glass secondary also has its hands full, because Salem has five strong receivers, three of whom have posted more than 200 receiving yards. Salem will have to contend with a tough Glass defense that didn’t allow the Cougars’ offense to score last week (Pulaski’s TD came off an ECG turnover). And the Hilltoppers have their own player of the year candidate in quarterback DreSean Kendrick (1,950 rushing yards and 1,128 passing yards), who averages 10.6 yards per carry and has scored 35 total touchdowns (25 rushing). Key in on Kendrick and Glass still can burn Pulaski in the run game. Quoterris Craighead is coming off a big game in which he scored three touchdowns, and the senior has rushed for 712 yards this season. Ty Foster averages 8.4 yards per carry and has posted 894 rushing yards. This one should be a showdown for the ages.

Spotswood at Heritage

WHAT: Region 3C championship

KICKOFF: 7 p.m.

RADIO: 102.1 FM

RECORDS: Spotswood 12-0. Heritage 11-1.

LAST WEEK: Spotswood pelted Rockbridge 42-0. Heritage beat Liberty Christian 20-7.

FACTS: This one has been on the radar for a while. Spotswood and Heritage traded positions in the Region 3C polls this season. HHS finally overtook the Trailblazers in the VHSL’s rating system by beating E.C. Glass and then held the No. 1 spot the rest of the way. This one features two young quarterbacks who can air it out when necessary, but look for both teams to mostly stay grounded tonight. Heritage’s two-pronged rushing attack has pounded defenses lately, with Kryistian Rivera chipping in to help KJ Vaughan. When the two go into the wildcat, Heritage is merciless at churning up yards. Spotswood relies on RB Ethan Barnhart for the bulk of carries but also likes to run counters with backs Cole Myers and Ben Conahan (also the team’s most accomplished defender). Heritage’s challenge is finding a way around a defense that allows just nine points per game. To do that, HHS will rely on a combination of power and speed in the run game. “If you’re gonna beat Heritage High School, you’ve got to stop the run first,” Pioneers coach Brad Bradley said. Just like they are accustomed to doing, the Pioneers will rely on their penchant for making in-game adjustments to figure out a way to defeat Spotswood. A lot of Heritage’s decisions on both sides of the ball depend on what the Trailblazers are giving away. The winner of tonight’s game faces the champion from Region 3D, either No. 1 Lord Botetourt (12-0) or No. 2 Northside (9-3).

Gretna at Appomattox

WHAT: Region 2C championship

KICKOFF: 7 p.m.

RADIO: 105.1 FM, 1050 AM, 106.3 FM

RECORDS: Gretna 9-3. Appomattox 10-2.

LAST WEEK: Gretna stung Radford 48-20. Appomattox shut down Glenvar 21-0.

FACTS: For the second straight week, Gretna will try to dispatch a team that has given it considerable trouble in recent years. The Hawks were sensational in finally shaking off Radford last week, as running back Daelyn Miller accounted for six touchdowns (five rushing) and put up 222 yards on the ground. They’ll need another strong output from Miller (1,623 rushing yards and 27 touchdowns) as they go against top-seeded Appomattox. The third-seeded Hawks enter with a six-game losing streak to the Raiders and haven’t defeated their Dogwood District foe since 2013. But GHS is on a roll right now, having won four straight. Two of GHS’s three losses occurred by just one point; the other was a 21-7 loss to Appomattox. The Raiders put their nine-game winning streak on the line tonight at Bragg Stadium. ACHS earned its second shutout of 2019 last week. It now has held six opponents to 12 points or fewer. Running back Cristian Ferguson enters with 1,291 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns on 123 carries, while quarterback Tre Lawing has passed for 992 yards, rushed for 844 and scored 28 touchdowns (13 passing, 15 rushing). Appomattox wants to key in on Miller, but it also has to stop fellow backs Jorden Berger (1,298 yards and 16 TDs on 169 carries) and Cameron Mabins (65 carries for 764 yards and seven TDs). Stopping all three is easier said than done. Gretna has to find a way past a tough ACHS defense. The Raiders are in the title game for the fifth straight year.

— Compiled by Ben Cates

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Ben Cates covers high school sports for The News & Advance. Reach him at (434) 385-5527. 

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