We’re still more than a month out from kicking off high school football season, and the sports doldrums of summer are in full effect.
Fortunately for content purposes, the VHSL released on Thursday its master schedule for the 2018 season.
Starting with opening week and going through the end of the season, we’ve plucked several can’t-miss area matchups for further scrutiny. (Which is impressive if you think about it, since we have no absolutely clue who will be any good).
Louisa at Courtland, Aug. 24
Louisa opens the post-Mark Fischer era with a 7 p.m. date at Courtland. In last year’s opener, the Lions—who would run through the regular season undefeated—routed the Cougars, 41–7. But Courtland returns a experienced core of playmakers that could put more points on the board this time around.
at Brooke Point, Aug. 31
With a new head coach in Dwight Hazelwood and newcomers aplenty, the Black-Hawks are no lock to eclipse double-digit wins as they have in each of the past two seasons. The Foxes promoted offensive coordinator Vern Lunsford to head coach in January and should boast plenty of continuity in the wing–T offense.
at Orange, Sept. 7
Facing the lone Class 5 opponent on their schedule, the perennially talented Cyclones may encounter a rare regular-season test. After finishing 5–6 last season, Orange could be in line for a breakout campaign if dual-threat senior quarterback Kenyon Carter excels in the passing game.
Hylton at Colonial Forge, Sept. 14
A Brown is still at the Eagles’ helm, but it’s not Hall-of-Famer Bill, who will step back and assist his son, John, formerly a head coach at Freedom–Woodbridge. Uber-talented ballcarrier Ricky Slade is off at Penn State, but the Bulldogs present no dearth of threats on both sides of the ball.
Massaponax at North Stafford, Sept. 21
Sports gambling is now the law of the land, but don’t bet on Eric Ludden’s Panthers missing the playoffs two seasons in a row. (Seriously, though, don’t bet on high school games. Like, ever). Last year’s matchup ended with the Wolverines’ resorting to a zany hook-and-lateral that Massaponax stymied near midfield to preserve a 49–45 victory.
Stafford at North Stafford, Sept. 28
The Indians are loaded with talent, but all-state quarterback Jalen Smith’s recent decision to transfer throws the Indians’ offensive plans in flux. Simply put, North Stafford senior Devyn Ford is one of the best high school running backs of our generation and this game is a prime opportunity to witness him take on some of the area’s best athletes.
at Colonial Forge, Oct. 5
The cool thing about watching a triple-option offense take on a team accustomed to nursing double-digit leads is that the whole shebang takes about 15 minutes. Last season, the Panthers grounded out a 7–0 advantage going into halftime before the Eagles reeled off 36 unanswered points.
at Stafford, Oct. 12
Since there’s no threat of a rematch in the playoffs, expect to see plenty of experimentation by both coaching staffs. Stafford may have the only secondary in the area capable of reining in the Eagles’ receiving corps.
at James Monroe, Oct. 19
A contest that needs no advance billing gets the following one: James Monroe won its region and advanced to the Class 3 semifinals last season. Yellow Jackets coach Rich Serbay is a living legend, and he doesn’t like losing to Courtland. Or so we’ve heard.
at Stafford, Oct. 26
A rematch of last season’ Region 5D championship is sure to turn out a sizable portion of Stafford County’s Route 1 corridor. This was the victory that sequenced the final helix of Mo Hampton’s “New DNA” mantra. The Black-Hawks likely remember how it felt to lose 59–26 on their home field.
Washington & Lee
at Colonial Beach, Nov. 2
When the soil starts getting sandy and all the parking spots fill an hour before kickoff, you know who’s playing. These teams actually met thrice last season, with the Eagles getting the last laugh in the form of a first-round playoff victory.