Sunday, October 07, 2012

Saturday Score, Division 5 Playoff Update

In the Colonial District Saturday, a big day for Mills Godwin's quarterback Dane Forlines as the Eagles handed John Marshall their first loss of 2012, 28-6.  Forlines threw three touchdown passes and added another score on special teams with a punt return.

The lone John Marshall score was on a kickoff return by John Thompson.  The Justices offense failed to score for the first time this season.

DIVISION 5 PLAYOFF CONTENDERS:

The following seven teams are on our radar as teams most likely to earn a Division 5 Wild Card playoff berth.  Hanover and Dinwiddie, the two teams most thought to have a chance at winning their respective districts, have already lost one district game each, and would need outside help to win the Capital or Central, thus getting an automatic berth.  That would shift a wild card berth to Division 6, though it is likely that all four Division 6 playoff berths will be clinched by teams winning their districts.

The teams are listed in order by our belief in their realistic chances of making the playoffs:

1) HANOVER:
        ---4-1 overall, 1-1 in the Capital after barely escaping 35-32 over Atlee at home Friday night.  They should get Sam Rogers and Brennan Gary back from injury soon.  Their next two weeks are against Henrico and Armstrong, with their next stiff test on the road in week eight at Lee-Davis October 26th.  Then they must travel to Varina before finishing at home with Glen Allen, where they'll be heavily favored.  The biggest issue for the Hawks in the second half is, simply, to win the games they're supposed to win to ensure a high playoff seed, and MORE importantly, stay healthy.  They overcame the injury bug through creative solutions to get to the State Semis last season.  They'd rather not have to get creative by force again this year, wanting all hands on deck for this, the final run of this celebrated football class of 2013 from Hawk Nation.

2) DINWIDDIE:
        ---2-3 overall, 1-1 in the Central after falling at home to Meadowbrook 41-27.  The Generals have faced a brutal first half schedule, losing to Varina by 7, Highland Springs by 2, and now to the Monarchs, putting them at a disadvantage in the Central District race.  The road gets easier for the young Generals in the second half, playing at a disappointing Thomas Dale, at winless Colonial Heights, home to Matoaca, at Hopewell in what will be a key game in the playoff race, and finishing at home against Petersburg.  A 6-4 or 7-3 record, combined with all the extra VHSL rider points they'll rack up from playing Varina and Highland Springs, who may finish the season a combined 18-2, should get the Generals a return trip to the postseason, though maybe without the home-field advantage they've enjoyed in some past seasons.

3) MIDLOTHIAN:
        ---4-1 overall, 3-1 in the Dominion after coming from behind to clip James River 20-10.  Their lone first half loss was to Cosby.  They continue a six-game homestand this week when Dominion favorite L.C. Bird comes to face the Trojans, in what will likely be the last legitimate chance for a team to hand the Skyhawks a Dominion District loss, though having to come from behind to defeat James River doesn't bode well for a battle with L.C. Bird, who seemingly has won the Dominion District since 1956, even though the school didn't open until 1978.  But, back to Midlothian.  After Bird, the Trojans play Benedictine and Clover Hill at home before finishing on the road at Monacan and Manchester.  The Benedictine game will not count in the VHSL playoff race, so, if they come into week 10 at 6-2 (not counting Benedictine), a win over Manchester may clinch a playoff berth, while a loss could endanger their chances, depending upon the fortunes of the next four teams.....

4) ATLEE:
        ---3-2 overall, 1-1 in the Capital.  They've gained a ton of yards, scored a ton of points, given up a ton of points and had their hearts broken twice, losing two games in the final seconds by a combined four points.  That stretch included four road games, so they'll enjoy four home games in the final five weeks, the only road trip in week 9 November 2nd to Highland Springs.  They tangle with Varina this week, a team that embarrassed them in 2011, 54-11, but afterwards they face Glen Allen and Armstrong at home, at Highland Springs, and finish welcoming Lee-Davis, another week 10 game that may decide playoff participants.  I mentioned during our radio coverage of Atlee/Hanover this weekend that if the Atlee defense can show serious improvement in the second half of the season while keeping the pedal down on offense, the Raiders could make serious noise in the D-5 playoff race.

5) LEE-DAVIS:
        ---3-2 overall, 1-1 in the Capital.  The no-nonsense, blue collar Confederates, too, have had a tough first half schedule, beginning with Hermitage, then a comeback win at Hopewell, holding off Patrick Henry at the Tomato Bowl, then losing convincingly to Varina before Friday's homecoming win against Henrico.  Their second half sees them going to Glen Allen, then to Highland Springs, before back-to-back home games with Hanover and Armstrong before going to Atlee for their traditional week 10 showdown.  To finish 6-4 like they did in 2011, they must beat Glen Allen, Armstrong, and one of the big three left on their schedule: Highland Springs, Hanover, or Atlee.  Last year, it was the upset of Atlee in the season finale that clinched a playoff berth.  Which game will decide their fortunes this year?  And will that game even involve them?  One important note: the Confederates week two win over Hopewell may come back to haunt the Blue Devils...

6) HOPEWELL:
        ---3-2 overall, 1-1 in the Central. The Blue Devils dug a hole early letting their lead against Lee-Davis at home September 14th slip away, but regained their confidence in a big way this past Friday, traveling to Thomas Dale and pulling the last-second upset, 14-7.  The second half of their schedule is favorable, hosting winless Colonial Heights this week, then to Matoaca, back home for Petersburg and a week 9 showdown with Dinwiddie, suddenly a winnable game for Hopewell, then finishing at traditional rival Prince George.  A 7-3 record isn't out of the question, though if week 10 at Prince George is a "win and you're in" situation, the Royals would love nothing more than make sure their arch rivals sit on the playoff bench with them.  A 6-4 finish may not be enough, especially since Lee-Davis gets more points from Hopewell wins than Hopewell gets for Lee-Davis wins.  Head-to-head matchups do not determine playoff spots, but can certainly affect them.

7) JOHN MARSHALL:
        ---4-1 overall, 1-1 in the Colonial. Before Saturday, John Marshall would have been listed in either the #3 or #4 position here.  But after their disappointing home performance against Mills Godwin, suddenly questions are raised about the Justices.  Their wins so far don't produce many VHSL rider points (Huguenot, Armstrong, Prince George, Patrick Henry).  Still to come are Hermitage at VUU's Hovey Field Friday night in the first Willie Lanier Classic, then trips to Douglas Freeman, Deep Run, J.R. Tucker, then their city showdown in week 10 at Thomas Jefferson, a rare home game for the Vikings.  Having almost lost to PH and then the Godwin loss, suddenly we question how many wins the Justices can muster in their last five games.  We think anything is conceivable from 4-1 to 1-4.  They should beat Thomas Jefferson, and they won't beat Hermitage.  An 8-2 record would probably get them into the playoffs.  Last year, a 7-3 record couldn't outpoint a 6-4 Lee-Davis team.  Yes, this year, the Colonial District grabbed a couple of key head-to-head non-district wins over Capital teams (J.R. Tucker over Henrico, Douglas Freeman over Atlee) which could make that similar scenario much closer this season.  The Justices have to hope Lee-Davis finishes 5-5.

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