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Riverheads: Falcons’ toughest test?

Central’s perfect record on the line Friday against defending state champs
Posted 2018-11-01 By Larry Beazley

    Central’s undefeated football Falcons will play what likely will be their toughest opponent of the season Friday at Augusta County’s Riverheads High School.

    Riverheads is ranked No. 1 among Virginia High School League Group I schools, the state’s smallest, and is the defending state champion in that class.

    The Gladiators are 7-1, having lost only to East Rockingham, the VHSL’s No. 1 Group II team. East Rockingham defeated the Gladiators, 28-0.

    Just a week ago, though, Riverheads embarrassed R. E. Lee, 49-10. Central fans haven’t forgotten that it was Lee that stopped the Falcons’ march into the post season a year ago.

    And Riverheads fans won’t forget the loss to Central a year ago either.

    Playing on the road against a defending state championship emotionally charged after a big win will be no small assignment for the Falcons.

    The Gladiators employ a run-oriented offense behind sophomores quarterback Cy Cox and running backs Zac Smiley, Justin McWhorter Devin Morris and Jaden Phillips.

    The offense features a shotgun snap to either of two backs standing side-by-side. They run sweeps around either end or plow up the middle.  Seniors Devin Morris and Blake Smith

have speed and ability to turn the corner.

    Up front, the line is hefty and experienced.

    The Gladiators run a basic 4-3 with four down linemen, three linebackers and four in the secondary.  Peyton Skillman, a junior returning to the roster, is the kicker.

    The Gladiators’ roster is loaded with speed and experience.

    It will be the Falcons’ final road game of the season. They return home Nov. 2 to play Strasburg.

    The Falcons improved their season record to 8-0 a week ago in a 39-0 rout of George Mason at Falls Church.

    Senior running back, wide receiver and defense back Kyle Clanton scored four touchdowns, two on running plays, a third on a pass reception and a fourth on an interception.

    Quarterback Zeb Dyer completed just two of six passes, but one of those completions went to Clanton for 46 yards and a touchdown.

    Central coach Mike Yew kept most of the offense on the ground. Clanton had 96 yards on six carries.

    Junior Noah Williams added another 66 yards. Shane Watson, the team’s rushing leader, gained 39 yards.

    Hunter Mullins, who always has a big play in the Falcons’ offense, didn’t disappoint in this one. He scored from 16 yard out.  Dyer added 30 yards  and Nick Houghton scored the Falcons’ last TD on an eight yard run.

    Central’s defense picked up its fifth shutout of the season behind captains Declan Franklin and Zach Abrams, who recovered a fumble.

    As the regular season winds down and teams prepare for the playoffs, Central is No. 2 behind East Rockingham in the VHSL Group II ranking.