The N-SA defense has come up big, especially late in the season. The team has 19 sacks for 170 yards on the season. The Saints lost their first two games of the season by a combined two points and held a powerful Norfolk Academy offense to 16 points. This is a team not to be underestimated, and their path to a state championship may lie with a team they’ve already beaten (Trinity) and a team they lost to by one point (Christchurch).
Salem struggled on Friday night, eventually outlasting Grassfield and relying on a game saving play. Quarterback Bucky Hodges was benched for the second game in a row with a hand injury. Backup quarterback Torrance Brown was out with a shoulder injury. Running back Torron Person is out with an ACL injury. That forced Salem Head Coach Robert Jackson to innovate.
The Ambassadors are becoming regulars in the top half of the D-III bracket, being the top seed the previous two seasons, and looking square for #1 this year as well. Only Virginia Episcopal’s upset of Christchurch bounced the Ambassadors back to second. This year’s Isle of Wight team has come of age before their fans very eyes.
The regular season is over and we can crown the overachievers with the title of best in the region at producing rushing, passing and receiving yards. The Southside teams finished on top for the most part, but there were several rushers in the Peninsula District that showed us once again that the running game is king on the Peninsula.
Congratulations to Salem High School running back Daijon Bland for winning the Freedom Ford Player of the Week award. The award was presented to Daijon yesterday, and photos from the event are posted in the gallery on recruit757.com!
Both opening round playoff games will be rematches of regular season matchups. Though the Gators didn’t do much in a tough TCIS this year, they made up for it with non-conference wins over Hampton Christian, Portsmouth Christian, and (most impressively) Blessed Sacrament-Huguenot. The Gators are easily the most balanced team in the D-IV bracket.
The Eastern Region Division 6 draw is a gauntlet. When a team like Granby goes 9-1 in the regular season and ends up as the eighth seed, you know there are some good football teams in the mix.
Division 5 gives us quite a disparity between the top and the bottom. Many of the usual suspects are back at the top, and we have some new blood making a bid for a title run. It’s going to be tough sleddding for the underdogs in this bracket.
In Region I, Bay Rivers District teams get to square off against the best of the Southside and Battlefield districts. Fortunately for our home teams, there’s little on the schedule that sets them up to knock each other out early. In Division 4, there’s a chance we could see the bracket 75% filled by local teams after this week’s games are through.
Bethel’s season is not quite over, but lineman Ricky Walker is prepping for a busy offseason. College interest is steadily streaming in, and another ACC school has jumped into the mix. Walker may be focusing on the playoffs, but it’s clear that colleges in the region have turned their focus to him.