Here’s a look at regional semifinals.
No. 4 Wise Central (9-2) vs. No. 1 Ridgeview (9-2)
At Wolfpack Stadium, Rose Ridge (Friday, 7 p.m.)
Two of the region’s top running backs and two solid defenses take the spotlight Friday night in Dickenson County when these Mountain 7 District rivals clash.
Something else could play a big role.
Rainy weather is anticipated for most of the day Friday before stopping in the evening hours.
“Ball security will be huge if the weather is nasty,” Ridgeview coach Rick Mullins said. “Central is a much-improved team playing with a lot of confidence. We must play a disciplined game and execute well in all three phases. We must play well on the line of scrimmage, offensively and defensively and tackle well on defense.”
The Wolfpack rely on a ground game led by junior Trenton Adkins, who has 2,555 yards and 45 touchdowns rushing this season.
Adkins’ success is no secret to anyone who has followed the season in Southwest Virginia, including Central coach Luke Owens.
“They will be prepared offensively and defensively. They are big and physical and we all know what kind of tailback they have. He is a special player,” Owens said.
The Warriors have a special running back of their own in junior C.J. Crabtree.
Crabtree owns two school rushing records, one for most yardage in a season (1,731) and the other for most career yardage (3,123).
Crabtree and his teammates have to be strong with ball control for Central to be successful, according to Owens.
“For us to be successful, our offense has to stay on the field. We can’t have any missed opportunities,” the coach said. “We will also have to find a way to slow down their running game.”
No. 3 Graham (9-2) vs. No. 2 Union (9-2)
At Bullitt Park, Big Stone Gap (Friday, 7 p.m.)
Union faces one of the most explosive offenses it’s seen season when coach Tony Palmer’s G-Men roll into Bullitt Park.
“They are super talented and they are very fast,” Bears coach Travis Turner said in summing up Graham.
Union defeated Graham 37-35 in the regular season on a last-second 21-yard field goal by Koby Crist.
“We were just lucky to have the ball last,” Turner said.
The coach knows his team has its work cut out against a tough G-Man squad that is going to be looking for revenge.
“It’s going to be a challenge,” Turner said. “Offensively we’re going to have to control the football and control the clock.”
The Bears need fullback Mason Polier to help them control the clock. In the earlier win, Polier racked up 193 yards and three touchdowns rushing.
Quarterback Devin Lester heads Graham’s list of multiple-threat players. In the teams’ first meeting, Lester threw for 328 yards and three touchdowns plus ran for 98 yards and two scores.
No. 3 Chilhowie (9-2) vs. No. 2 J.I. Burton (9-2)
At Virginia-Wise’s Carl Smith Stadium (Saturday, 1:30 p.m.)
For the second week in a row, rainy weather — or the threat of it — forced officials to move Burton’s home playoff game from Lawson-Fitchko Stadium to Carl Smith Stadium’s turf field.
Chilhowie handed Burton a 45-24 defeat way back in the second week of the season. The Raiders have won nine straight since then.
Burton’s Esau Teasley has racked up plenty of yardage this season, compiling 1,047 yards and 15 touchdowns. He also has 197 receiving yards with two TDs.
Team captain Mikey Culbertson, a senior, has added 881 rushing yards with 15 touchdowns plus leads the defense from his linebacker position.
Quarterback Logan Adams leads a Chilhowie squad that has won back-to-back regional championships.
Adams threw for 130 yards and two touchdowns in the win over Burton in September. Jordan Williams rushed for 92 yards and a couple of touchdowns in that game.
Expect them to be key factors again Friday night.
No. 5 Holston (7-4) vs. No. 1 Patrick Henry (11-0)
At Emory & Henry’s Fred Selfe Stadium (Friday, 7 p.m.)
Mark Palmer has led Patrick Henry to its best season — at least thus far — with a perfect win-loss record and the Hogoheegee District championship.
The Rebels defeated district-mate Holston 42-13 on Oct. 11 behind a three-touchdown performance by quarterback Dakota Rector.