Big changes coming for Cougar football

The Locker Room

By Dan Callahan

The Patriot

As the spring sports season winds down and the end of the school year is in sight, it’s time to take a look ahead to Pulaski County football and the 2017 gridiron season. There will be many changes in scheduling and it will all start with the pre-season.

Cougar fans will be happy to know that a form of the old “Touchdown Classic” will return to Kenneth J. Dobson Stadium, Joel Hicks Field. In fact, all pre-season activity for next fall will be in Dobson. The following week there will be a “Football Jamboree.” in Dobson. In all, seven visiting football teams will see action during the pre-season in Dobson, and the Cougars twice. There are also two major changes in the regular season schedule for Pulaski County. We’ll take a look at them in the order they occur.

First on Friday, August 11th, Pulaski County will welcome Liberty Christian Academy of Lynchburg, Magna Vista, and Radford to Dobson. There will also be considerable junior varsity competition as well. It will be the first time LCA has ever visited “Cougarland.” LCA is a Division 4 school as is Pulaski Co., and Magna Vista Division 3 and has won the state championship in that division two of the past three years. Cougar fans are certainly aware of Radford who will move up to Division 2 for the 2017 season.

PCHS, LCA, and Magna Vista will also be involved in junior varsity action. All four teams will play round robin, so each will face three opponents on the day. A schedule of events, times, and cost will follow.

Next on Friday, August 18th comes the “Jamboree.” Three more teams will visit Dobson, and there will also be junior varsity competition for this event as well. The three teams coming to “Cougarland” for this event will be Division 3 Liberty of Bedford, Division 3 member and playoff team of last season Rustburg, and Division 1 stronghold Galax who has won the state championship in that division two of the past three seasons. Once again, the Cougars will lock horns with all three visitors. A schedule of events, times, and cost will follow.

But the changes do not stop with the pre-season when Cougar fans will be happy with the home festivities, there are two changes in the regular season schedule as well which should make PCHS fans even happier and cut down on the travel time.

Gone are games with Franklin County and Bassett, and those two long trips will not be necessary in 2018 during the second year of the contract. The two new additions to the schedule will be Division 5 William Fleming, and Division 3 Abingdon. PCHS has never played Abingdon in an official game, and has not faced Fleming since 2006.

The entire 2017 regular season schedule is as follows, all games are on Fridays; 1- Northside (H), August 25; 2- William Fleming (H) September 1; 3- Abingdon (A), Sept. 8; 4- Carroll County (A), Sept. 15; 5- Cave Spring (H), Sept. 22; 6- Hidden Valley (A), Sept. 29; 7-Christiansburg (H), October 6; 8- Blacksburg (A), Oct. 13; Oct. 20 is an open date. 9- Patrick Henry (A), Oct. 27; 10- Salem (H), November 3.

Cougar head football coach Stephen James is pleased with how things are setting up for 2017. “I generally like to travel for at least one of the first two scrimmages, but the opportunity presented itself this year to have both scrimmages at home against good competition. I think everyone is pleased about that. As for the regular season schedule we were able to get rid of our two longest road trips, both over two hours (Franklin Co., and Bassett), and we were able to replace those two games with quality opponents.

“We feel our present schedule will now give us a better opportunity to gain power points and be a better situation for the playoff scenario we will now be facing, but we’ve got plenty of good football right here at home this coming season, with our pre-season events and the regular season schedule, a great group of home games. We’re looking forward to it,” said James.

PCHS athletic director Scott Vest is pleased with the schedule of events and the convenience for Cougar football fans. “We are looking forward to the two pre-season events. I know our fans will be happy to see us back at home, and it gives our community a great opportunity to see our kids play against quality competition. We liked the idea of getting Fleming back on the schedule and adding Abingdon as well. These are two convenient road games for our fans, and cuts down on the travel.  I’m very satisfied with how the entire 2017 football season sets up for us from the very first day,” said Vest.

For most of the past three months and it will certainly continue through the remainder of the school year and summer, the Cougar football program has been involved in off season weight training and physical conditioning.