Monday, October 15, 2012

Division 5 Playoff Watch: Week 7 Preview!

Hanover's win solidifies their number one position in the Division 5 playoff standings, while John Marshall, Midlothian, and Atlee must bounce back after big losses last Friday night.

DIVISION 5 PLAYOFF STANDINGS: (last week's standings in parenthesis)

1) Hanover                                     26.333   (1)
2) Lee-Davis                                  24.0       (5)
3) Hopewell                                   23.833   (4)
4T) John Marshall and Midlothian   23.166   (2 and 3)
6) Dinwiddie                                  23.0       (8)
7) Atlee                                         21.833   (6T)
8) Glen Allen                                 21.2        (6T)


Lee-Davis: The easier-than-expected 31-7 win over Glen Allen was a must win, but came on a night where no less than four of the teams they're fighting against for playoff position lost.  Moving from outside the playoffs to home-field advantage in the Regional Semis has to give the Confederates more positive momentum.  A 1.6 point gain overall, but the rest of the way is brutal, beginning this Friday at Highland Springs.  Home dates follow with #1 Hanover and Armstrong, then they finish at Atlee, a place where they came, as Lee-Davis head coach Zac Hayden noted this summer, "three plays short" of winning a regional semifinal last November.  The Confederates/Raiders showdown November 9th could be a play-in game.

Dinwiddie: The Generals weren't sure what Thomas Dale team to expect last Friday in Chester.  It ended up being one playing for more than just pride, but Dinwiddie did what playoff teams do, win the must-win game. Their remaining schedule includes an intriguing trip to Hopewell November 2nd, but with wins against Colonial Heights, Matoaca and Petersburg expected, even a loss to Hopewell may not be enough to derail the Generals drive to the playoffs.  One big reason?  Those extra rider points Dinwiddie will get from playing the likes of Varina and Highland Springs in September.

Hopewell: The win over winless Colonial Heights was expected, but moving up to 3rd in playoff positioning, leap-frogging two of their closest competitors, John Marshall and Midlothian, makes it a good week.  What would have made it a great week?  Had they beaten Lee-Davis at home back in week two, they'd likely be in that #2 position.  By the way, Hopewell's last home playoff game?  A 14-13 win over Henrico on November 20, 2004.


Atlee: They were faced with a monster task, even at home, facing Varina.  For the second straight year, they gave up over 50 points to the Blue Devils.  Now 3-3, the Raiders welcome Glen Allen Friday in what should be a bounce back win for the Raiders, followed by a home date with Armstrong.  Their only road trip is week nine at vaunted Highland Springs, then it's back to the Rage Cage to host Lee-Davis in their all-important week ten matchup.  That upset loss to Douglas Freeman in week 3 is looming bigger and bigger all the time.  But note, they only lost 1/6 of a rider point.

John Marshall: We list Atlee before John Marshall, not because of what has been, but more due to what will be.  The Justices' road down the stretch is much more favorable now that they can put their 62-0 disaster at the hands of Hermitage behind them.  It IS conceivable for this team to get back on track and win at least three of their last four, all on the road (Freeman, Deep Run, Tucker, Thomas Jefferson).  We believe, though, that due to the weakness of their schedule (Colonial District plus Huguenot, Armstrong and Prince George in non-district play), Jayem probably has to win the rest of their games to absolutely insure an 11th game this year.  Their 7-3 finish last year wasn't good enough, and this year's playoff race has more horses in it.  The Hermitage game cost them over one rider point.

Midlothian: Remember last year before week 10 when the Central Region collectively looked at the VHSL rider point sheet and realized, "Midlothian's got a shot!"?  Well, that's why we've followed the Trojans from day one this season in our "group of seven" we've discussed on the Game of the Week on WHAN Radio. This week's 33-6 loss to L.C. Bird was tough, but they lost all of .034 rider points.  They share the same overall record as John Marshall (4-2), and their schedule down the stretch is, well, intriguing.  They finish a long homestand with Benedictine this Friday (a game which won't exist in the world of VHSL rider points), followed by Senior Night against disappointing Clover Hill.  In early November, they hit the road at Monacan, then at Manchester.  They should be, in VHSL-speak, 6-2 going to Manchester, a team that saw their slim playoff hopes slip away with the loss last week to Cosby.  Will they be playing out the string, or would the Lancers get some satisfaction in taking the Trojans out of the playoff picture?  It may come down to this: November 9th, Lee-Davis, Atlee, Hopewell, and John Marshall fans may all suddenly have a soft spot in their heart for those Lancers.


Hanover:  It wasn't exactly easy, in fact, it was a three-hour emotional rollercoaster.  But the expected win did materialize, even if it wasn't in the way Hawk fans imagined it.  L.J. Jones went berserk, Sam Rogers returned in the nick of time, and Travis Barton held steady once Andrew Knizner went out with injury.  Their last two home games are Armstrong this Friday and Glen Allen on finale night.  In between are trips to Lee-Davis and Varina.  The Hawks probably have enough already laid away in the VHSL bank that, if they happened to lose to both Lee-Davis and Varina, they would probably still enter the post-season at 7-3.  The Hawks, now, are playing for home field advantage.  Three wins in the last four weeks should do that, as an 8-2 Hanover record would most certainly outpoint an 8-2 finish by John Marshall, Hopewell or Midlothian.  With Lee-Davis at Highland Springs this week, chances for the Confederates finishing 8-2 are marginal, but if they did, it would include a win over Hanover.  Just keep that in the back of your mind.

By the way, to tell Hanover fans and all readers, the "Just Kept Swimming" category is meant as a compliment, not a detriment.  It means a team did what they needed to do and expected to do, holding steady in their current position.  They even increased their rider point lead over second place from 2 to 2 1/3.


Armstrong at Hanover
Lee-Davis at Highland Springs
Hopewell at Matoaca
John Marshall at Douglas Freeman
Midlothian at Benedictine (game will not count in VHSL rider points)
Dinwiddie at Colonial Heights
Glen Allen at Atlee

GAME TO WATCH: Lee-Davis at Highland Springs...a Confederate upset could turn the Division 5 home field picture upside down....

UPSET ALERT: Hopewell at Matoaca....Matoaca is not playing poorly, and, with rivalry games with Petersburg, Dinwiddie and at Prince George looming, will this young Blue Devil squad end up in a "trap game" situation that could put their post-season hopes at risk?

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