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Picks and previews for high school football regional title weekend: Hermitage at Highland Springs and Patrick Henry at Varina
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Picks and previews for high school football regional title weekend: Hermitage at Highland Springs and Patrick Henry at Varina

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Four classic 804 high school football powers will clash this weekend with regional championships on the line, as No. 3 Hermitage takes a trip down Airport Drive to face No. 1 Highland Springs in the 5C title game, and No. 5 Patrick Henry travels from Ashland to the East End for a rematch on Route 5 with No. 2 Varina for the 4B crown.

In the Region 2A championship, No. 2 King William travels to No. 1 Nottoway on Friday at 7 p.m. Lacking familiarity with Glen Pettis’s 11-0 Cougars outfit, we didn’t pick that game.

But special correspondent Weldon Bradshaw will be on the scene to cover Scott Moore’s 10-1 Cavaliers team as they vie for a region title behind All-Metro running back Demond Claiborne and versatile quarterback Jayveon Robinson, both of whom were voted 804 Varsity Players of the Week this season.

Here are our picks for region championship weekend in the 804, with an evaluation of the matchups from each coach.

Class 5, Region C FINAL: No. 3 Hermitage at No. 1 Highland Springs

Friday: 2:30 p.m.

Records: Panthers 10-2, Springers 9-3

HIGHLAND SPRINGS COACH LOREN JOHNSON:

On Hermitage: “Very explosive, that’s No. 1. And they’re playing great defense, that’s No. 2. Those two things in itself can be very scary. So you hold a team down as long as you possibly can, then they throw a deep ball and score. That’s something you want to make sure you stay away from, and not allow your team to fall victim to. And on the defensive side of the ball, just finding a way to move the ball down the field progressively and consistently, they eliminate that by being a sound football team.”

On his Springers: “Just continuing to build relationships, that’s our key for our program to be successful. We’re doing that, and we’re growing and maturing as men. That’s the special part of this process, our kids have done a phenomenal job of just doing that, and that in itself creates a better team, when chemistry is moving in the right direction, it’s good no matter what type of relationship it is and that’s where I think our kids are at right now.”

Core players: QB Khristian Martin, DBs/WRs Quanye Veney and Takye Heath, DE Rashaud Pernell, center Terrell Jones

HERMITAGE COACH TIMOTHY JEAN-PIERRE

On Highland Springs: “They’re an athletic team, so they can create a lot of mismatch situations with the best teams in the area. They’re real consistent up front on the defensive line, and they’re fast, they fly around to the ball. They’ve got some real good skills guys on the top end of the defense. Defensively, they’ve got some good size, and they’ve got some pretty decent backs as well, a couple dynamic ones to be honest. So there’s a lot of different areas they can create mismatches, it’s just up to us to play solid. Fortunately for us, we have some athletes as well.”

On his Panthers: “I’ve got a hungry group. They’ve been through a lot with COVID and a lot of coaching changes. For them to stick together throughout the process and trust me, especially for some of these seniors, it’s been special going through the season with some of the adversity we had and to be able to jell together throughout. Talent-wise, it’s a very talented group, Hermitage is known for having talent. But outside the talent aspect, just the character of these young men has grown so much. They took it upon themselves to control their own destiny.”

Core players: Lineman Andrew Lee, RB Jeremiah Coney, QB Jaylen “Toast” Burton, DB Christian Stubbs, LB Corey Bolden

Tim Pearrell’s pick: Highland Springs 30-21

Zach Joachim’s pick: Highland Springs 33-20

Class 4, Region B FINAL: No. 5 Patrick Henry at No. 2 Varina

Saturday: 1 p.m.

Records: Patriots 10-2, Blue Devils 10-1

VARINA COACH MARCUS LEWIS

On Patrick Henry: “They’re tough, definitely tough up front on the offensive and defensive lines. So that will definitely be a challenge, so we’ve got to play for four quarters.”

On his Blue Devils: “We’ve definitely grown, we’ve been battle tested, winning by 1 point, going to overtime. Our kids, they’re fighters, they’ll fight to the end and if we continue that way we should be alright.”

Core players: QB Myles Derricott, slotback Anthony Fisher, linemen De’Andre Crump and Wayne Watson Jr., WR/LB Kaveion Keys

PATRICK HENRY COACH KEN WAKEFIELD

On Varina: “A great battle and who knows, maybe we’ll do it again down the road,” Wakefield said Oct. 29 after his Patriots knocked off previously unbeaten Varina 22-21 on the road. “It was great to establish the run. They’ve got a lot of great athletes, so sometimes when you play to somebody’s strengths, that makes it a little bit tough. ... It really took all 48 [minutes], how about that. They didn’t quit, they made that late touchdown, but our kids knew we needed a first down. We grinded it out and we were able to finish the game.”

On his Patriots: “Just super proud of our guys, team leadership, great group of guys that just want to play, and they keep playing,” Wakefield said after the 35-20 semifinal win over top-seeded Dinwiddie. “Got one more week, we get to practice on Thanksgiving. And outside of that, practicing before a state championship, which I’ve never done yet and would love to do. That’s one of the best practices you can have, so I’m really appreciative of that.”

Core players: QB/DB Jordan Allen, slotback Jayden Mines, LBs/TEs Christian Berry and Camden Byrd, lineman Maddox Radcliffe

Tim Pearrell’s pick: Patrick Henry 31-28

Zach Joachim’s pick: Varina 22-21

Records: Zach 35-14, Tim 24-16, Lily 6-3

ZJoachim@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6555

Twitter: @ZachJoachim

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