The Pioneers started early on Thursday morning with 32-34 players showing up for the start of football practice. A couple of transfers were at practice. Alex Brooks was one of the transfers, and he should make a positive contribution to the team. The team went into a lot of individual and team drills. For their first day and considering the heat, the Pioneers looked to be in good physical shape. They appear to be way ahead of last year at this time. Tanner Bailey and “Pookie” Moore looked comfortable at QB. Colby Rider, Grant Milgram and Jacob Coake seem to be in real good shape. Sean Morgan, Andrew Stoots and TJ James were doing well at running back positions. Hunter Parrott and Anthony Morris had a good first practice .
The Pioneer coaches had things running briskly, and yes, there was a lot of running. Seems there’s more discipline by not only the coaches but among the players as well.
The Fort Chiswell Pioneers as reported earlier will play at Twin Valley HS on Saturday August 13. The jamboree will now feature nine teams, with the Pioneers facing Castlewood at 12 noon and then J I Burton at 1pm. The jamboree will be getting under way at 11 am with the host Twin Valley to play Castlewood. Grundy, Thomas Walker, Narrows, Riverview (WV) and Hurley are the other squads to be playing. J. I.Burton is the new team thats been added.
The VHSL is wanting or going to change a baseball rule come next spring. Instead of innings pitched by pitchers , the new rule if passed will now be pitch count. Don’t know if the rule will be pitches per week, per game ,etc. It’s a better rule in my opinion than innings pitched. I may threw 60 pitches in three innings. Some else may threw 60 in five innings. Pitch count is the wear on pitching arms more so than innings. Should be interesting come next spring. Now will everybody count correctly?
Football practice will officially start this Thursday July 28 for the high schoolers. I’m hearing Fort Chiswell may have a surprise or two come Thursday. Will not get the Pioneers fans hopes up ,so I will stay on this and see what may or may not happen. The Pioneers look to be in better shape physically and look more together in their workouts. The Pioneers will travel to Twin Valley High School Saturday August 13. The eight team scrimmage as of now is suppose to start at noon.
The Cougars will get under way come Thursday as well. I’ve had a couple opportunities to see them lift and run. They look strong and are working hard. The Cougars are scheduled to scrimmage at Richlands Friday August 12. The eight team scrimmage is suppose to start sometime that Friday afternoon.
Radford football will also be getting started as well . They still have some athletes that are fast and quick. They also lost lot of real good football players from last season. They will scrimmage Independence (WV) Saturday August 13 at Radford. Independence is under the direction of former Radford assistant Chris Vicars, who was the defensive coordinator under head coach Matthew Saunders. Time to be determined.
Will be trying to post scores this fall football season of not only the Mountain Empire District ( Fort Chiswell), Three Rivers ( Radford), River Ridge ( Pulaski Co.), Hogoheegee ( George Wythe) , old Southwest District, that includes Richlands, Tazewell, Abingdon, Lebanon and Virginia High. Blue Ridge scores will also be posted.
Another high school sports season has come and gone. It was an interesting year, and I had the opportunity to cover some very exciting games as well as some not so good.
I’m going to step back to the first of August. After a delay, or whatever, the final decision was made regarding the Fort Chiswell Pioneers’ new football coach. Coach Tom Hale stepped down. Hale’s assistant coach and defensive coordinator, Todd Tiller, then became the new headman. That period of time put the Pioneers behind in a lot of ways. The weight room workouts got way behind, and it became obvious this past fall. The Pioneers football program had been used to winning. They had gone to the playoffs, for something like six-seven straight years. Then the bottom literally fell out when they went winless. 0-10 is not pleasant and I’ve never seen so many injuries to a football team. In one game against the Narrows Green Wave, they used not one, not two, not three, but five different quarterbacks in a single ballgame. Hey, that may be a state record, five quarterbacks in one game! When they played the Radford Bobcats, the Pioneers had almost as many players in street clothes as in uniform. Twelve starters were out of that game due to injuries. You get the point? If it could go wrong, it did! They were a shell of the program that had been built there. It seemed that the first thing that went wrong or went against them just snowballed game after game after game. Did I say or tell you their running game was pitiful? It was, and during some games “pitiful” was a compliment. I do know that Coach Tiller and his staff have had them hitting the weight room this off-season. Now, if the injury bug will leave them alone maybe, perhaps, hopefully, they can at least be competitive this coming season. How the mighty has fallen. Just three seasons ago, the Pioneers played in the State Semi-finals at Essex. They got shafted that Saturday at Essex for those of you that didn’t make it to the game. One last thing about the Fort Chiswell football team, all ten of their opponents last year made the playoffs!
Let me turn my attention to the Radford football program. Coach Matthew Saunders had a very athletic and talented football team this past year. They were exciting to watch and explosive on offense at times. A couple of injuries may have cost them a state semifinal appearance. Coach Saunders, I truly thank you for letting me have access to your team and the fun of covering Radford football. Good luck to big Nick Ridpath going to William & Mary to play football.
I then covered the Pulaski Co. Cougar basketball team and what a pleasant, and in my opinion, surprising team Coach Andrew Hart put out on the court. They weren’t the biggest, weren’t the most talented or the quickest baseball team I’ve covered, but there was something about them that made them a TEAM. They looked for each other, played well together and played extremely good defense. Coach Hart and his assistants did one heck of job. You’ve heard the old adage less is more? It seemed that described the Cougar basketball team. One of their starters would miss a game for some reason or another and the next guy would step up. It was a very well coached team and I told Coach Hart as far as I was concerned he deserved to be coach of the year.
After basketball season was over, I had to opportunity to cover the Cougar baseball squad. I told Coach Jared King more than once this past season that the most consistent thing about this baseball team was it was inconsistent. They would get a real good pitching performance and they’d have trouble hitting. They would hit and then have problems pitching. If the pitching was on target, they couldn’t field. That’s what comes with a young ball club. They only had two seniors on the team. Their best pitcher was unfortunately one of those seniors. It was the most wins in one season, of the three years of the Coach King era. They have a lot of returning kids and hopefully that will up their game. It will be the usual question for the Cougars. Will they get pitching?
I also covered some of the Fort Chiswell boys and girls basketball games. Coach Jackson of the boys and Coach Williams of the girls did a great job for their teams. The Pioneers girls made it all the way to the state semi-finals in Richmond. They played a very exciting, up and down, fast paced game that was fun to watch. Congrats to all the Pioneers basketball girls and coaches for an outstanding job.
On several occasions, I covered Fort Chiswell baseball. Coach Derrick Jackson and the baseball team also made it to the state semi-finals that took place at Radford University. Again my congratulations goes out to all the Fort Chiswell baseball players and coaches on a remarkable ride. For the first time in my life I went to UVA-Wise to cover the Pioneer baseball team. It’s a very pretty place. I’m glad I had the opportunity to visit the area and enjoy some exciting baseball. Bryson Booher, I’m sure you’ll make us proud as we follow your baseball performance at Concord.
Now the Cougar basketball playoff game against William Fleming at Fleming probably made me the maddest I’ve been this whole high school sports year as a reporter. There was a call made against Pulaski Co. in that game with less than a second to go. In fact the horn went off as an official blew his whistle. First of all you couldn’t pay me enough to be an official. Let’s just get that out there. In 28 years I haven’t seen a call made like that at the end of a game. It cost the Cougars the ballgame, and it definitely ended their season as Fleming went to the foul line and hit three foul shots to win the game. 99.9 percent of the time that game would have and should have went into overtime. That call sent lot of basketball players crying into the locker room. Truly a heartbreaker.
I also had the opportunity to cover the Cougars twice in football this past year. It was like old times being on the sidelines with headman Coach Stephen James. Hey, after five years at Fort Chiswell every Friday night, you get to know a coach a little bit. Cougar fans, I said this when he took the job at Pulaski Co., he will win and he will bring Cougar football back to where people will say, “Those Cougars are a hard-nosed, strong and a battling bunch.” I don’t believe they will be outworked! I got to see this year’s team the other morning in the weight room. That’s one strong bunch of young guys and they are working! Coach Stephen James, you keep building the Cougar football program and I know you are and will. I’m so proud to know you and to have covered you in my column. I consider you my friend and Pulaski Co. has one heck of a football coach.
There are so many people that I need to thank. Too many to name all of them. I do want to say to sports editor “Cougar” Dave Gravely, I appreciate you letting me cover the Cougar football team two times last year. Thank you for all you’ve done for me. Thank you to the athletic directors at Fort Chiswell, Radford and Pulaski Co. High Schools. To all the coaches at Fort Chiswell, Radford and Pulaski Co. for letting me have info and access to the teams and locker rooms. Thank you to Tina Quesenberry for the great pictures she takes for Fort Chiswell in all sports, and to Kathy Shelor for taking pictures for me and helping me and for being my friend. There are so many people that I can name, it’s impossible to name them all. Special Thank You to Mike Roop and Ray Singleton for helping me and for the good times and laughs. Finally, I appreciate all of the people at Fort Chiswell for all their hospitality, friendship and kindness. I also need to say thank you to Brett Booher for his help. Well, that about does it for this year-end rant or review. It’s only a few weeks away to get this party started again. All of you have a great summer and hope to see many of you this coming high school sports season.
Friday July 22 the Cougars are scheduled to travel to Lord Botetourt for some 7 on 7 action. They will be taking on Amherst and Rustburg.
The Cougar scrimmage that is scheduled at Richlands in August will be played Friday August 12. They will see action against three teams there. They will scrimmage, George Wythe, powerhouse Belfry,Kentucky and Richlands. Time of the start of the 8 team scrimmage hasn’t been announced. Looks like it willl be some time that Friday afternoon.
The Pulaski Co. Cougars football team has added a new-old Cougar. Former football player Zane Quesenberry will be added to the Pulaski Co.Middle School football staff and Pulaski Co. Middle School head coach Brad Sutphin. Quesenberry is a 2008 graduate and has been an assistant football coach at Bearden High in Tennessee. Zane went to Maryville College after graduating from Pulaski Co. His wife Nancy will also been an assistant for the Cougar varsity girls basketball team this winter.
July 28- First Practice
Aug. 22-27- 1st Game
Nov. 5- End of District play
Nov. 12- 1st Rd. Playoffs
Nov.19-2 nd Rd. Playoffs
Nov.26- 3rd Rd.Playoffs
Dec. 3- State Semi’s
Dec. 10- State Championships ( 1A & 2A – @ Salem), (3A & 4A- @ Wm.Mary), (5A & 6A- @ Hampton Univ.)
Aug. 13 – Independence (WV)- Time & Place- TBA
Aug. 19- Benefit Game – @ Blacksburg- 7 pm
Aug.26- Geo.Wythe- 7pm
Sept. 2- @ Galax
Sept.9- Fort Chiswell
Sept.16- @ Craig Co.
Sept 23- James River
Sept. 30- @ Floyd Co.
Oct. 7- OPEN
Oct.28- @ Glenvar
Nov. 4- @ Eastern Montgomery