The Glenvar football team is two wins away from being the top seed in the Region 2C tournament. Glenvar defeated two opponents in the past week to retain the number one ranking with two games to go.
The Highlanders beat Alleghany last Friday at home, 63-8, followed by a 24-21 win over James River in Buchanan Monday. That was a makeup date for a game previously postponed due to COVID concerns at James River.
The two wins give Glenvar a 7-1 record and a 23.0 rating in the Virginia High School League Region 2C rankings. The Highlanders are off this week, then finish the regular season at home against Radford on October 29 and at Giles on November 5th.
If Glenvar can win those two games there’s no way second place Appomattox can pass the Highlanders for the top spot in the region. Appomattox is 6-1 with three games to go and a rating of 21.2. That’s very important, as Glenvar would then be home if the two would meet in the Region 2C championship, which is very possible.
“Every game is like a playoff game at this point,” said Glenvar coach Kevin Clifford. “We don’t want to go on the road again.”
Appomattox has been a thorn in the side for the Highlanders in recent years. The Raiders have ended Glenvar’s season in the region playoffs in each of the past four years, including the past two seasons in Appomattox. If they do meet again, Clifford would prefer it be here.
“It’s a two and half hour bus ride to Appomattox and we’ve been very successful in our stadium,” he said. “If we keep winning we won’t have to leave Salem.”
Indeed, if Glenvar is the top seed in the region all 2C games would be at home. Then, the Highlanders would have a good chance to be the high point team for the state Class C semifinal, and the championship game is back at Salem Stadium after a one season hiatus due to the pandemic.
That’s looking down the road a bit, and the road almost took a wrong turn Monday. After riding an hour and a half on a bus due to a wreck on interstate 81 the Highlanders almost shot themselves in the foot at James River Monday. Despite dominating the game they had two touchdowns negated by penalties and allowed the host Knights three long bombs for scores before getting out with a 24-21 win.
“You’re always glad to win, but I was very disappointed with how we executed,” said Clifford. “We never got in a rhythm and we made too many mistakes.”
The Knights scored on three plays of 45 yards or more Monday while the Highlanders dominated time of possession by almost a two-to-one margin, 31:33 to 16:27. The Highlanders led 24-7 at the half as Aiden Wolk ran for two touchdowns, Jackson Swanson scored on a 16 yard pass from Wolk and Carl Muse kicked a 25 yard field goal. River’s TD came on a 66 yard TD pass from Zeal Hammons to Ben Bailey.
In the third quarter the Knights cut the lead to 10 on a trick play. Hammons found Jake Benson all alone behind the secondary on a “flea-flicker” play that covered 58 yards and cut the lead to 24-14.
The Highlanders drove right back down the field and appeared to score. However, an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty negated the touchdown and River’s defense then held. The Knights went right down the field on the ensuing possession, with Hammons hitting Bailey with another scoring bomb, this time from 45 yards out to cut the lead to 24-21 with 4:10 still remaining in the third period.
That turned out to be the end of the scoring. River had a few more chances but couldn’t mount a drive against a Glenvar defense that played strong down the stretch. The Highlanders were able to run out the clock and hang on to the win and keep the Virginia Media rocking chair in Glenvar. The visitors had 16 first downs and 309 total yards while River had just four first downs and 218 totals yards. Take away the three scoring plays and River had just 49 yards on the 32 other snaps.
“We need to make the plays on those deep balls,” said Clifford. “Give James River credit, they played hard and they didn’t quit, but it should have been 31-0.”
Kyle Hanks finished with 56 yards rushing on 18 attempts for Glenvar while Wolk ran 11 times for 40 yards. Aiden was 23 for 35 passing for 232 yards with Dagan Williams catching six for 85. Swanson had five catches for 63 yards, Nick Woodson had five catches for 36, Mason Anderson had four for 29 and Hanks caught three balls for 19 yards.
On defense Nick Williams led with eight tackles. Anderson had four tackles and an interception and Nathan Johnson had four tackles including two for losses and a sack and a half.
The game was the second in four days for the Highlanders, who had little trouble with Alleghany last Friday at home. The Highlanders won 63-8 and all 63 came in the first quarter. Glenvar led 42-0 in a first quarter that included two defensive scores, a 36 yard fumble recovery by Elijah Carter and a 32 yard interception return by Woodson.
Wolk was 10 for 11 passing for 201 yards and three TDs before sitting down to give Eli Taylor some snaps. Swanson had five catches for 114 yards and three touchdowns and he also ran a punt back 67 yards for a touchdown. Hanks carried eight times for 123 yards and three scores.
The Highlanders will now have a welcome week off to prepare for what they hope will be seven more games, two in the regular season and a possible five in the post-season.