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And then there were five: Highland Springs, Hermitage, Varina, Patrick Henry and King William vie for region titles

And then there were five: Highland Springs, Hermitage, Varina, Patrick Henry and King William vie for region titles

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Following a jam-packed weekend of high school football playoff action, five local schools are left standing to compete for region championships.

Trinity Episcopal won a double-overtime thriller over Benedictine in the VISAA championship. Both local representatives in Region 6A, James River and Manchester, saw their seasons end in Chesapeake against Oscar Smith and Western Branch, respectively. Hopewell, the area’s standard bearer in Region 3A, fell to top-seeded Phoebus. And Goochland lost to the top seed in 3B, Meridian, 40-21.

That leaves five Richmond-area teams still in the running for region championships. Here’s a rundown of how they got there, and what to look for in two all-804-area matchups in Regions 5C and 4B, as well as a look at King William’s bid for a 2A title.

Region 5C final

No. 3 Hermitage at No. 1 Highland Springs, Friday, 2:30 p.m.: It’s familiar territory for Loren Johnson’s Springers (9-3), winners of four of the past six Class 5 crowns.

Region 5C defensive player of the year Quanye Veney, a DB, receiver and kick returner, headlines a dominant Highland Springs defense that has allowed one touchdown in the past three weeks after demolishing No. 4 Douglas Freeman 36-0 in the semifinals. Linemen Miles Greene and Frank Coleman, end Rashaud Pernell, linebackers Latrell Sutton and Daquan Giles, and DBs Takye Heath and Braylon Johnson are all first-team all-region honorees on the loaded Springers defense. Sophomore quarterback Khristian Martin has a big arm on the other side of the ball. He spreads the ball around to a deep receiving corps and leans on rugged back Aziz Foster-Powell in the ground game. Center Terrell Jones is another first-teamer. Highland Springs lost early in the season to out-of-state powers Chambers (North Carolina) and Martinsburg (West Virginia), then 7-6 to Varina a few weeks ago.

Quarterback Jaylen “Toast” Burton’s Hermitage outfit put up 24 unanswered points to dispatch No. 2 Midlothian 28-14 in the semifinals. Running back Jeremiah Coney is the region’s offensive player of the year after rumbling for 1,050 yards and 19 TDs. Andrew Lee is a first-teamer on the offensive and defensive lines. DB Christian Stubbs and linebacker Corey Bolden also earned first-team honors. The Panthers (10-2) dealt with coronavirus-induced delays to begin their season, and started 1-2 following losses to Varina (28-21) and Glen Allen (13-6). But Timothy Jean-Pierre’s team has come a long way since then, as evidenced by its 42-7 demolition of that same Jaguars team in the first round of the playoffs. The Panthers opened the season with a 27-26, overtime win over 4B finalist Patrick Henry, so the ceiling has always been evident for this talented Hermitage side.

But it will need to realize that ceiling Friday to keep the Springers out of another state-title chase. Highland Springs won the last meeting, 67-0 on Aug. 24, 2018 following a 24-14 playoff victory the previous season. Hermitage’s last victory in the series was in Week 1 of the 2017 season, 14-9 on Aug. 25.

Region 4B final

No. 5 Patrick Henry at No. 2 Varina, Saturday, 1 p.m.: Both of these programs are as battle-tested as high school football teams come.

The Blue Devils have won eight region titles in the past 25 years, and took care of No. 2 King George 28-10 in the semifinals behind 181 all-purpose yards from versatile offensive weapon Anthony Fisher and a dominant defensive performance spearheaded by lineman De’Andre Crump. Back Tae’mon Brown added a TD on the ground, and Varina forced six Foxes turnovers. Marcus Lewis’s Blue Devils appear to be playing their best football of the year at the perfect time.

The same can be said for Ken Wakefield’s Patriots, who dispatched the region’s top seed Dinwiddie 35-20 behind 219 yards and four TDs on the ground by quarterback Jordan Allen. Linemen Jordan Watson and Maddox Radcliffe led the push up front, and Greg Foster highlighted a disruptive defensive showing with a fumble return for a touchdown. PH’s only losses are to both Region 5C finalists, 27-26 at Hermitage in the second game of their season and 41-28 at home to Highland Springs on Oct. 8.

For a preview of this matchup, look no further than three weeks ago when the Patriots handed the Blue Devils their only loss.

“I can’t wait, that’s going to be a fun one,” Allen said of a rematch with Varina after the win over Dinwiddie. “That was my most fun game of the year to play, so I’m ready to get back and see them again.”

Region 2A final

No. 2 King William at No. 1 Nottoway, Friday, 7 p.m.: The Cavaliers scored 21 points during a little more than two minutes to down Poquoson 64-30 in the semifinals, while Nottoway took care of Amelia County 34-7 to move to 11-0. Led by All-Metro running back Demond Claiborne and dynamic quarterback Jayveon Robinson, Scott Moore’s King William outfit has won 10 in a row, all by wide margins, since a 13-7 loss at Goochland to open the season. The sides have one common opponent this season, Greensville County — Nottoway won that matchup 42-16, and King William won 47-16. So this would appear a pretty even showdown of the region’s top two seeds for the 2A crown Friday night.

(804) 649-6555

Twitter: @ZachJoachim


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