Football practices are underway in the Shenandoah District. The News Leader will start looking at individual squads next week as we preview the season, but for that first Friday afternoon in August, let’s take a look at five questions we’ll be answering this season:
- Will Riverheads break the state record for consecutive wins? Riverheads haven’t lost a football game since Oct. 13, 2018, and are three wins away from breaking the 52-game national mark held by Phoebus High School in Hampton. Waynesboro, Parry McCluer and Lord Botetourt prevent the Gladiators from achieving this record.
- Can Waynesboro live up to the hype? Coach Brandon Jarvis revived the program, taking the Little Giants to the playoffs last season after Waynesboro had one win in the previous three seasons combined. With one of the region’s best point guards in running back Ryan Barbour, some see big things from this team in 2022.
- What becomes of Stuarts Draft? Some football programs are successful for a few years when a group of talented players come through school and then disappear. The key to developing a program is lasting success. The draft could do just that, but this year will speak volumes after losing last year’s incredible senior class. The Cougars have 28 wins and two state championship appearances over the past three seasons.
- What impact will the new coaches have? Two programs have new head coaches this year. Ray Norcross is at Riverheads, promoted to the top job after years as defensive coordinator under Robert Casto. Replacing a legend is never easy, but Norcross seems well equipped to keep the juggernaut in Greenville. Meanwhile, Staunton also has a new coach as Michael Bell has been promoted to the position. There seems to be a lot of enthusiasm from players about Bell. Will this translate into success on the pitch?
- Who will finish second in the Shenandoah District? I think it’s safe to say most – all? — of those who follow high school football predict that Riverheads will once again be the best in the district. But who’s next? We’ve said before that Waynesboro is loved. Buffalo Gap is returning talent and should be in the mix. Stuarts Draft still seems to be near the top of the district. And Wilson got off to a good start last year before some struggles last season. A case could be made for any of these teams. It should be a fun season.
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Patrick Hite is the education reporter for The News Leader. Story ideas and tips are always welcome. Contact Patrick (he/him/her) at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @Patrick_Hite. Subscribe to newsleader.com