By Brian Hoffman
The Virginia Media Rocking Chair was on the line, and under a tent, at Glenvar’s Highlander Stadium last Friday night. For the eighth straight year the Highlanders celebrated with the rocker after taking a 19-0 win over James River in a game played mostly in a driving rain.“It was one of those grind it out kind of games,” said Glenvar coach Kevin Clifford. “We really couldn’t throw the ball in that weather.”
“I think the weather bothered them more than it did us,” said River coach Tim Jennings. “They would have thrown the ball more often than they did on a nice night. We tried to throw it but our passing game is struggling regardless of the conditions.”
Only 17 total passes were thrown in the nasty weather, as River was two for 12 and Glenvar passed just five times, completing two. There were 71 rushing attempts and Glenvar outgained the Knights on the ground, 124-76. The Highlanders drove the length of the field on their first possession but turned the ball over on downs when River’s Colin Cook and a host of teammates stopped
Nate Johnson on the one foot line on fourth down. River couldn’t manage much offense with their backs to the goal post and, after punting the ball away, the Highlanders concluded a drive with a one yard run by Jack Camper with 2:10 remaining in the first period. Glenvar made it 13-0 on a 13 yard run by Jackson Swanson with eight and a half minutes remaining in the second quarter. That’s how it stood at the half as the Highlanders stopped a late scoring opportunity for the Knights.
The third period was scoreless as the rain picked up, and in the fourth quarter Swanson put an insurance score on the board with a 31 yard sprint with 5:35 to go and that was the ballgame.
Glenvar sophomore Eli Taylor returned from an injury to start the game at quarterback for the Highlanders. Eli was injured in the first game of the season and freshman Brody Dawyot had played well in his absence, leading the Highlanders to three wins in four games. The two rotated possessions against James River but, with the conditions as they were, neither were able to have a statement game.
“I don’t like rotating quarterbacks, but neither one had an opportunity to do anything in the rain,” said Clifford. “We’ll wait another week before I make a decision.”
Jackson Swanson led the Glenvar rushing attack with 78 yards on 13 carries while Elijah Carter ran 11 times for 55 yards.
On defense, Camper had nine tackles and a tackle for a loss. Lucas Birdlebaugh had eight tackles, with two for losses, and Nick Woodson had eight tackles with three for losses. Deon Taylor had a drive killing interception.
The win gave Glenvar a 4-2 record and the Highlanders have won four in a row after starting the season 0-2. This week they’re off to Floyd County to take on a Buffalo team that is off to a 4-1 start and is also on a four-game win streak. After losing their opener to Christiansburg, 34-0, the Buffaloes have beaten Patrick County, Auburn, Fort Chiswell and Carroll County.
“They’re similar to us,” said Clifford. “They run a two back offense and they’re very physical.”
The Highlanders beat Floyd last year, 54-0, at GHS. Glenvar holds a 24-12 advantage in the all-time series and the Highlanders have won the last 11 meetings, and 14 of the last 15. The last time Floyd won in this series was in 2012 but Glenvar is trying to work through some injuries and Clifford is taking nothing for granted.
“We’re a little banged up at this point,” said Clifford. “I can’t ever remember having this many injuries at one time.”
The first Virginia High School League rankings came out this week and the Highlanders are the third ranked team in Region 2C behind 6-0 Radford and 5-0 Martinsville, who beat Glenvar in the second game of the season. Glenvar will play Radford on October 28 at Radford.
Floyd is the fourth ranked team, just behind Glenvar. The Floyd jayvees will be here tonight to take on the Highlanders.