BRISTOL, Va. - Whether it’s making a tackle or opening a running lane, senior Lucas Greer is always ready to make plays for his team.
“I try to be a leader on defense and offense on both sides of the ball,” Greer said. “I try to get my teammates hyped on every single play.”
He did that Friday, helping Chilhowie withstand a steady dose of Stevie Thomas to put a dent in Virginia High’s homecoming activities with a 22-7 win over the larger school Bearcats at Gene Malcolm Stadium.
“We enjoy playing bigger teams. It really matters come the end of the year with playoff points because those really add up when you beat a double-A team,” Chilhowie head coach Jeff Robinson said. “That team is getting better. They are going to win some games down the stretch so I feel really good about this win.”
Chilhowie (5-1), which won in Bristol for the first time since 2010, is eyeing a third straight trip to the Class 1 state championship game, and this time the Warriors want to finish on top.
“Get back to where we were last year and win it this time,” said Greer, who starts on the line on both sides of the ball. “That is the goal.”
Jonathan Gilley scored a pair of first quarter touchdowns from 10 and 19 yards and Daniel Hutton added two extra point kicks to put the Warriors up 14-0 with 2:58 still left in the opening period.
“It felt great. I didn’t think we were going to score that early, but we did and it was pretty good,” Gilley said. “Our offense has been getting way better, like with the holes they have been creating, but we keep getting better at practice, that is all we do.”
Virginia High (0-5) responded, forcing a pair of turnovers and not allowing the Bearcats to score again until the opening play of the third quarter.
“I didn’t think we played well early, but by the same token I thought we showed some fight so I was really proud of that,” Virginia High head coach Michael Crist said. “Our effort was there, we played really, really hard. Two red zone turnovers, at the end of the day, it may have been the difference on the scoreboard. There are always more plays in the game though that factor in.”
Virginia High closed to within 14-7 on its next offensive possession, led by Thomas, who faked a punt and dashed 28 yards on a 4th and 17 from their own 42 for a first down.
“They played a little keep-away from us and kept our offense off the field. We have got an explosive offense, but when you are not on the field they can’t score,” Robinson said. “Our defense gave up a bunch of fourth down conversions, especially on that touchdown…
“Their coaches made some nice adjustments there after we jumped on them to keep them in the game. It was a game until late.”
They got another fourth down conversion on a Chilhowie penalty on 4th and 2 and then scored their lone points of the game on a 33-yard pass to Xzavion Fields on a 4th and 24 with 6:20 on the clock. Parker Carroll added the extra point kick.
“He is pretty good. His legs never stopped moving,” said Greer, of Thomas, who ran for 131 yards and threw for another 102. “He is so strong and we gang-tackled him, that is what we had to do but he is pretty good.”
“On film he is one of the most explosive players I have seen this year,” added Robinson. “I was happy with the way we contained him. I know he had his moments, but overall I was really pleased with our defense.”
Chilhowie came out of the long halftime break and immediately put some distance between them on the scoreboard, with Williams rolling around the outside and dashing down the right sideline for a 57-yard touchdown.
“That was a really big play,” Gilley said.
Logan Adams added the two-point conversion run for the final points of the game.
“I believe we have more overall speed in the backfield this year than we have ever had, including the last two years when we made those runs,” said Robinson, whose Warriors ran for 226 yards, including 113 by Williams and 65 from Gilley. “You can’t teach speed so it bails you out sometimes when you make a mistake. If we ever start consistently executing on offense we are going to be tough to stop.”
Virginia High had a pair of key turnovers, an interception in the end zone by Gilley late in the first half and a fumble recovery by Thomas Peery inside the red zone on the opening possession of the fourth period.
“You learn from them, but I am proud of our fight,” said Crist, whose Bearcats got a terrific game from Hunter Wright, who made a terrific diving 32-yard catch just plays before the Gilley interception in the final seconds of the first half, and also had an interception. “When they went down 14-0 early, we could have folded, but we didn’t, we stood the course and in the end the two turnovers.
“We are sort of scratching and clawing and sometimes when you are doing that you make a mistake too. That happens.”
Up next for Virginia High is a visit on Friday to rival Abingdon, a difficult place to get a first win.
“We are going to continue to work for it,” Crist said. “The schedule doesn’t get any easier by any stretch. We have got to hang in there, we have got to find a way to get healthy and keep plugging along.”
Chilhowie will return to the gridiron in two weeks to host Rural Retreat, and expect the 5-10, 215-pound Greer to keep working to get better in his first season as a starter for the Warriors.
“We have got a good tradition here at defensive tackle,” Robinson said. “Three straight years we have had a first team all-state defensive tackle and he is on his way this year to being the fourth. He is a very good player.”
Greer added to his total of 36 tackles, 11 stops for loss and three sacks entering the game.
“I am trying, every single day, every practice, I am going hard and definitely in games going hard and trying to get my team a win,” he said. “We have a lot of things to work on.
“We feel good, but we are not satisfied at all, we still have a long ways to go.”
Chilhowie 14 0 8 0 - 22
Virginia High 0 7 0 0 0 - 7
CH-Jonathan Gilley 10 run (Daniel Hutton kick)
CH-Gilley 19 run (Hutton kick)
VH-Xzavion Fields 33 pass from Stevie Thomas (Parker Carroll kick)
CH-Jordan Williams 57 run (Logan Adams run)
First downs: CH 12; VH 10. Rush-yards: CH 30-224; VH 41-164. Pass yards: CH 41; VH 102. Comp-Int-Att: CH 5-7-1; VH 6-12-1. Fumbles-lost: CH 3-1; VH 2-1. Penalty-yards: CH 5-32; VH 8-41. Punts-Avg: CH 3-34.0; VH 4-32.2.