FOOTBALL PREVIEW: What to watch — Must see games of 2023

Published 1:44 pm Thursday, August 24, 2023

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High school football returns this month all across the state of Virginia. For many – whether that means players, coaches or fans alike – there are some new twists and turns to get accustomed to when the 2023 campaign officially begins.

Various schools move up or down in the VHSL’s six classification system. There are also some new regions to adapt to as well as subtle scheduling changes.

So what are the must-see matchups on the gridiron?

“Like I tell my wife, every game is big when the Chargers play,” quipped Central Lunenburg Head Coach Will Thomas, whose Chargers will certainly be involved in some interesting tilts after enjoying their first unbeaten regular season in 27 years.

“The district will be tough, and like always, we’ll be in a dogfight. Sometimes it goes in cycles. That’s the beauty of High School Football.”

Nonetheless, we’re here to bring you five games to circle on your calendar if you’re an area football fan that could be worth your time checking out …

Five to See:

• September 15 — William Campbell at Randolph-Henry: For a Randolph-Henry team that just barely missed the playoffs in 2022, this one looms largely as an out-of-district matchup that could better position themselves for a spot in the postseason in Region 2A. William Campbell has owned the Statesmen to the tune of a 13-1 record in the series since 1997. Randolph-Henry’s lone win in that stretch came by a 34-28 margin in 2013. Look for Kanye Dailey, a 2nd Team All-James River District running back, to power the ground game for Ray Conner’s crew.

September 22 — Buckingham at Central-Lunenburg: These games have produced some absolute classics and nail-biters in recent years. In the past seven meetings, Lunenburg is 4-3 with two of those battles – 2018 and 2021 – going to overtime. All four wins in that stretch came at home in Victoria for the Chargers. Last year, Seth Wilkerson’s Knights were blanked 14-0, which was stunning considering they had eclipsed 40-plus points on five occasions on the season. It also marked the program’s first regular season shutout loss since 2017 when Nottoway beat them 21-0, one year prior to Wilkerson’s arrival.

• September 23 — Prince Edward at Northumberland: This is a very rare matchup for Prince Edward to take on Northumberland. As far as the all-time series goes, Prince Edward leads it 2-0, winning 20-12 in 1979 and 14-12 in 1978. It could be close again as the Indians, usually a contender out of the Northern Neck District and Class 1, must replace dynamic Tennessee signee Cam Seldon, but welcome back eight starters on defense. This is a good gauge for Larry White’s Eagles before diving into the teeth of their James River District slate.

• October 13 — Central-Lunenburg at Nottoway: Ending a four-game losing skid in the head-to-head series, Lunenburg not only re-grouped from a 28-14 loss to Nottoway two years ago, but simply steamrolled them to the tune of 47-0 in 2022. The Cougars will surely be out for revenge, though this one has the makings to be a much closer affair and go a long way towards determining the James River District Championship.

• November 3 — Amelia at Buckingham: The Raiders of Amelia return a host of players on both sides of the ball. In fact, just three of their 11 All-District honorees were seniors. Buckingham dropped three straight in the series to Amelia from 2016-18 before winning each of the past three encounters. This one will have major playoff implications with Amelia competing in 2A and Buckingham in a rugged 2B that now features a Riverheads team that won seven straight Class 1 state titles.

To read the entire 2023 High School Football Preview click here.