The Glenvar Highlanders jumped firmly into the football playoff picture with a Three Rivers District win over the Bobcats last Saturday. Glenvar came from behind twice on a sunny day at Norman Lineburg Field in Radford for a 16-14 victory.
The Highlanders were sixth in the VHSL Region 2C rankings prior to the win while Radford, who was previously undefeated, was third. After Saturday’s win the Highlanders jumped to third and Radford fell to fifth, which is significant since only the top four in each region make the playoffs this year.
“It was a good win for us,” said Glenvar coach Kevin Clifford. “The kids played hard. We had our backs to the wall and they gutted it out to keep us in the playoff race.”
Neither team led by more than four points the entire game. The Highlanders struck first when they were stoned in the red zone and settled for a 23 yard Aiden Wolk field goal. It would be one of several times the Highlanders wasted opportunities inside the Radford 20, keeping the Bobcats in the game.
Radford took the lead with 4:14 remaining in the half on a 19 yard TD run around left end to make it 7-3 at intermission. The third quarter was scoreless as Radford held the lead by stopping Glenvar three times from inside the five after a muffed punt set up the Highlanders with great field position. Radford missed a short field goal attempt with a minute and a half to go in the quarter to keep the Highlanders within four points of the lead.
Glenvar finally pushed one across in the fourth quarter. Clifford put 215 pound Gabe Shaffer in the backfield and the senior, who is more known for his defense, proved tough for the Bobcats to bring down. Glenvar drove inside the five and this time they converted as Kyle Hanks scored on a short run to give the Highlanders the lead at 10-7 with 8:07 on the clock.
The euphoria was short-lived on the Glenvar side, however. On Radford’s ensuing drive quarterback Zane Rupe found P.J. Prioleau over the middle and the talented tailback/receiver broke several tackles before busting loose for a 70 yard TD with 6:20 remaining. The Highlanders had held Prioleau pretty much in check up to that point.
Glenvar had one more chance to put a drive together and win the game, and they did so with precision and confidence. Shaffer moved the chains a couple times, then Wolk found Jackson Swanson twice on pass plays, the second carrying just short of the goal. Hanks took it over with 1:50 remaining for a 16-14 lead but the extra point missed and Radford was very much alive.
At this point the Highlander defense rose up. Glenvar forced a fourth and two at the Radford 39 with 1:11 remaining. The Bobcats tried a long pass and had a man open, but it slipped through his hands to turn the ball back to Glenvar. Wolk took a knee a couple times and that was the ballgame.
“It was a fun game to watch,” said Clifford.
Hanks finished with 39 yards rushing on 14 attempts while Shaffer had 33 yards on eight. Wolk put the ball in the air 41 times, completing 20 for 240 yards. Dagan Williams caught seven for 94 yards, Swanson had five receptions for 70 and Nick Woodson had five for 45.
On defense Zach Moore led the Highlanders with eight tackles. Mason Anderson and Colvin Delano had six each, and one of Delano’s was a game saver where he caught a Bobcat from behind. Blake Custer had a tackle for a loss and a fumble recovery.
The win was the second in a row for Glenvar after losing their first two games, one in the snow at Stuart’s Draft and one to Class 5 William Fleming. This Friday Glenvar is back home to take on arch-rival Giles at 7 pm at Highlander Stadium. This is a big game for both teams as Giles is also 2-2 but two spots out of the playoffs in sixth place in Region 2C. And, as mentioned, only four advance.
“It’s a rivalry game,” said Clifford. “They tortured us for a long time before we finally got over the hump.”
Glenvar had lost to Giles 20 straight times before the 2014 state championship season, and after finally breaking the streak the Highlanders have won six of the past seven games with the Spartans.
“You look back over the past 30 years and I’m sure they have one of the best records in the state,” said Clifford. “They have a great tradition and they’ll be out to beat us. We wouldn’t be where we are without Giles.”
Glenvar’s jayvee team beat Radford last week, 34-7, to remain unbeaten at 4-0. The jayvees are scheduled to play William Byrd in Vinton tonight.