Here is a preview from an Alleghany writer and point of view of Friday’s game between Greenbrier East and Alleghany.
WHO: Alleghany Cougars (3-0) at Greenbrier East Spartans (0-3)
WHERE: Spartan Stadium
WHEN: Friday, September 15, 2023, at 7:30 p.m.
LAST WEEK: Alleghany Cougars (defeated Rockbridge Co. 48-6), Greenbrier East Spartans (lost to Bluefield 34-19)
The Alleghany Cougars Varsity football team has been an unstoppable force this season. Last week when they played against the Rockbridge County Wildcats in an away game in Lexington, the Cougars, for the first time this season, kicked off rather than received on the opening play. This would end their streak of not only receiving the ball in the first play of the game, but their streak of running in a touchdown on the first play of the game.
Purcel Turner made history when he did it in the first game, running the ball in for a 95-yard touchdown. So far, it’s the longest-running touchdown this year. Hunter Depriest forced history to repeat itself when he did the same thing in the second game of the year, this time running in a 90-yard touchdown return on the opening kickoff.
In last week’s rather interesting game, the Cougars continued to dominate the scoreboard, though there were several penalties called against the inaugural team, including two touchdowns in the beginning of the game —one by J’yon Smith and the other by Purcel Turner— which were both called back.
“We could have played better,” Hunter Knighton said in a post-game interview. “There was a lot of penalties that shouldn’t have been there,” his brother, Haiden Knighton agreed. “… but we can just get better from there.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH (ALLEGHANY COUGARS)
Hayden and Hunter Knighton
Matthew “Moose” Clayton
ABOUT THE OPPONENT:
The Greenbrier East Spartans had a bit of an underwhelming season last year, finishing with a 4-6 record. However, they were able to dominate over Lincoln County in the final game of the season, shutting out the Panthers 39-0 and concluding their season on a high note.
However, this season has presented its own set of challenges. Their turf was being worked on at the beginning of the season, which left the Spartans without a “true place to practice,” according to Coach Ray Lee.
Like the Cougars, the Spartans have struggled with penalties in the past, often resulting in yards lost or touchdowns being called back. Perhaps this could be credited to a lack of experience and the overall youth of the team. “We have some game experience on the line, but not true game experience,” Coach Ray Lee said.
Whether or not the Spartans are able to overcome their lack of experience or issues with where they’ve been able to practice —and not practice— remains to be seen.
East is 0-3 this season but have been in every game. They have losses to Point Pleasant (26-7), Woodrow Wilson (42-39), and Bluefield (34-19).
PLAYERS TO WATCH (GREENBRIER EAST SPARTANS)
Carter Hamilton, 40 rush yards, TD, one of leading tacklers on defense
Nate Suttle (if he plays, injury, 268 total yards, 4 TD)
Brody Hamric, 35-of-67, 550 yards, 6 TD, 4 INT
Kaden Stone, 7 rec., 144 yards, 2 TD
Abram Wickline, 7 rec., 42 yards, fumble rec, INT, DEF TD
Grant Burdette, 13 rec., 211 yards, 2 TD
Cougars kick returns vs. Spartans kickoff coverage.
Alleghany has taken multiple kickoffs back for touchdowns this season. Greenbrier East has allowed three returns to be taken back for touchdowns against them. Against Bluefield, the Spartans went ahead 19-6 in the second quarter, then allowed a kick return for a touchdown on the ensuing kickoff. Bluefield used that momentum swing to score the game’s final 28 points, including the return.
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