Lots at stake on gridiron Friday night

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 14, 2007

For two area high school football teams, the season has come to down to one game this Friday night. Isle of Wight Academy heads to the Virginia Independent Schools Division III state championship game, while Franklin High School hopes to continue its season with a first-round regional playoff game.

Both teams will face familiar foes that defeated them this season. Isle of Wight Academy will take on Broadwater Academy in the state championship game at 7:30 p.m. Broadwater beat the Chargers (10-1) 32-25 earlier this season in Exmore. Franklin will make the long trip to Colonial Beach for a 7 p.m. kickoff. The Drifters beat Franklin 37-21 earlier this season.

IWA head coach Dale Chapman said playing Broadwater at home will give the Chargers an advantage.

“They are a very good team, and any type of edge we can possibly get will be helpful,” he said. “We play well at home and we have good support from our fans, alumni and student body. We play better at night than in the afternoon when it is 75-80 degrees. That will be a factor for us.”

Chapman said the Chargers were not 100 percent healthy when they faced Broadwater the first time, as quarterback Rusty Brake was injured in a practice earlier that week. “Obviously, Rusty is a big part of our offense,” he said.

Chapman also said his defensive secondary passed a test against Greenbrier Christian the last week of the regular season.

“Since we played them (Broadwater), our defense has improved greatly. Our defensive secondary showed it could cover the pass against Greenbrier, which plays a spread offense. That gave us a little more feeling of confidence.”

IWA will take the field attempting to do what no other Division III team has done n win three championships in a row.

“Our guys come to practice in August knowing they are going to be in the postseason in November,” he said. “They are used to playing in the postseason and big games. All these kids have played in high-octane, high-atmosphere games in front of a large crowd before. We are going to try to eliminate mistakes and do something nobody has done before.&uot;

Late last week, it looked like Franklin, with a win over Windsor, would host a first-round game. But Franklin (8-2) fell victim to Nandua High School’s two forfeits. Franklin beat Nandua two weeks ago but lost points in the power rankings because Nandua won some games with an ineligible player. The loss in points dropped Franklin down to third in the rankings and moved Colonial Beach (8-2) to second.

The winner of the Franklin-Colonial Beach game will play the winner of the Surry-West Point game in the regional final next week.

The first Franklin-Colonial Beach matchup was a contrast in halves. Franklin played well in the first half and led the game 15-8 going into the half. But Drifters running back Brandon Foster rushed for 133 yards in the second half and could not be stopped. He was virtually a one-man offense.

If Franklin can stop Foster, the Broncos have a fighting chance. Colonial Beach (8-2) has virtually no passing game. Quarterback Brent Steffey attempted just three passes all night, all in the first half, with no completions.

Franklin’s offense was ineffective in the second half and gained just 64 yards. However, the Broncos have spread the offense out more since that game, and seven different players ran for yardage against Windsor on Friday. Elliott Bottoms, who rushed for 82 yards on nine carries Friday, left the Colonial Beach game in the first half with an injury.

After Friday night’s win, Franklin head coach Darren Parker said his team was not worried who or where they were going to play this week.

“We don’t care who we are going to play. We are going to prepare every day Monday through Friday, and on Friday we are looking to execute to perfection,” he said. “It’s always great to play at home. We have great fans who support us week after week, but wherever we have to go, we will be ready.”