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Falcons, Rams clash Friday; Lots at stake

Strasburg offense peaking as team seeks post-season
Posted 2017-11-09 By Larry Beazley

    Central’s football Falcons travel to Strasburg Friday hoping to preserve a perfect season. Should the Falcons prevail in what will be their final regular season outing, it will mark the first time in school history that its football team has gone undefeated through 10 games.

    While Strasburg will play the role of spoiler, its mission will be much more complex. A victory over the state’s top-ranked 2A team would almost certainly secure a post-season berth for the Rams.

    Strasburg’s season thus far has been less than spectacular, but the Rams (5-4) have improved on the offensive side of the ball in recent weeks.

    A win Friday at home over Central would extend Strasburg’s winning streak to three games and probably secure the Rams a playoff spot.

    Strasburg’s offense has averaged 28 points a game. Against stronger teams Luray and Clarke County, however, they managed only 14 and 20 points while giving up 41 and 49 points.

    Austin Miller, the Rams’ hard-charging running back, will be expected to carry the ground game, and sophomore quarterback Chase Hart’s passing game has improved enough to pose a threat.

    Hart’s favorite targets are wide receivers Trevor Sager and Stephen Koosterman. Each scored two touchdowns in last week’s 34-14 win over Madison County.

    The Rams’ defense must control the potent Falcon attack.  If Central scores early and jumps to a two-touchdown or better lead before halftime, the Rams may not recover.

    Central enters the game with a perfect 9-0 record, and a victory over Strasburg would give the Falcons the first perfect regular season in school history.

    The Falcons are also battling for a high playoff spot and to capture a respectable share of home games during the playoffs.

    Central has one of the top offensive lines in the state, averaging 53 points a game.  Quarterback Zeb Dyer has a strong arm and a corps of receivers.

    The Falcons have speed to burn in Kyle Clanton who has had seven touchdowns in the last two games and Varsey Bright who provides a dual threat with his speed.  Shane Watson, who has rushed for more than 1,000 yards, can find gaping holes and bowl over defenders, The Falcons’ big, athletic line has performed well in pass protection and run blocking.

    On defense Central has held opponents to eight points a game, many coming after the contest has already been decided.

    The Falcons’ line and linebackers usually control the line of scrimmage while their speed in the secondary, led by Bright with 10 interceptions, has shut down opponents’ passing attack.

    Special teams are loaded with outstanding kick returners in Clanton and Bright. Both have returned kicks for touchdowns.

     A special team would not be complete without a solid kicker and the Falcons have Andrew Miller.  He has a strong leg for kickoffs, is accurate on extra points and has kicked a field goal when needed.

    Though Central’s high-powered offense was held mostly in check a week ago in Woodstock, its defense gave up just six points and the Falcons stopped Riverheads, Virginia’s top-ranked 1A high school team, 21-6.

    Leading 13-6 at the half, the Falcons returned to the field in the third period to mount a scoring drive that put the game out of reach for the Gladiators. Neither team scored in the final 25 minutes of the game, although both got close to the goal line. 

    Central’s Varsey Bright intercepted a Rivereheads pass deep in the Gladiators’ end of the field in the final period, but the Falcons were unable to capitalize. The interception and a second half defensive stand by Central sealed the victory.

    Until a week ago, Riverheads was unbeaten and the highest ranked single A football team in Virginia. Then, the Gladiators lost to R. E. Lee, 21-7. Despite the loss, Riverheads remained atop the state power rankings in its class.

    Riverheads is the defending 1A state champion.

    Lee, meanwhile, rocketed from No. 9 in 2A power rankings to No. 2 solely on the strength of its win over the Gladiators.

    Central, ranked No. 5 statewide among 2A teams a week ago, moved to No. 1 after the Riverheads win.

    Central’s Kyle Clanton put the Falcons on the scoreboard early Friday, scoring from 15 yards out. Andrew Miller kicked the PAT to give Central a 7-0 lead. Clanton would go on to score all three Cenral touchdowns in the game.

    Falcons’ quarterback Zeb Dyer connected with Clanton on a 46-yard pass play for a TD in the second period, but Miller’s kick failed. Central led 13-0. Riverheads would score before the half, but Central was up 13-0.

    In the third, Clanton scored from three yards out, and Dyer ran for the two-point conversion. From then on, Central’s defense took over.

    Bright had three interceptions. Central running back Shane Watson carried 20 times for 91 yards.