Locker Room: Friday is why you compete

Big games used to be common place for Pulaski County football. Well, those memories have returned. All eyes from Danville to Lynchburg, Roanoke, Salem, and south will be wondering what’s happening in Dobson Stadium Friday. All of Region 4D will be thinking of Pulaski County. It is the biggest game of the season in the entire region to date.

As games like this near players, coaches, parents, and fans can feel their heart beat. Your stomach might be a bit upset. You don’t put as much focus on the tailgate. You get to your seat a little sooner than usual. Players and coaches might not even want to talk very much. They might even search for a quiet spot. You get irritated easily. You feel it. You smell it. You can cut the tension with a knife. The anticipation of the coming battle totally dominates every fabric of your being. If you don’t feel that way, don’t put the gear on. The emotion, intensity, and excitement in Dobson will be everything you wish it was every time you take the field. There will be electricity next to that big cornfield. The stadium will be packed. It will be loud. I’ve seen it and felt it many times before. I love it.

Pulaski County (6-1) vs. Blacksburg (7-0). This is why an athlete chooses to compete. This is why you play the game. No, the season will not start, nor will it end Friday, but for a little while it will seem that way. Yet, even with all the excitement, things will change quickly with the first snap. Which team executes the best, keeps its head, stays the course, answers when an answer is necessary, keeps its focus, doesn’t turn the ball over, and doesn’t make dumb penalties will have a great chance to win. It always comes back to fundamentals.

But there will be big moments. Who can break a tackle and make a huge run? Who can make the big catch? Who throws the vital block? Who makes a tackle when only a tackle will save the game? What team doesn’t bust a crucial assignment? Who wins the battle in the trenches? Who’s the baddest, meanest dude on the block? It ain’t about pretty. Down in the pit it’s about toughness.

Pulaski County’s football program is based on a history of great successes that have faded a bit over the past few seasons. Success has returned. It’s a winning program, a solid program. What’s missing is a win over Blacksburg Friday. It’s about getting back the pride and tradition of the program. The opportunity is here. Who’s willing to sellout to make the statement that Cougar football is back among the best and ready for the challenge to stay there. That’s what Friday evening in Dobson Stadium is about. For your team, your school, your community, your parents, your girlfriend, yourself, for all of it. It’s time to draw the sword.

There is another huge game in the region Friday. Jefferson Forest (6-0) is at E.C. Glass (5-1). Both are rated ahead of Pulaski County. If the Cougars win Friday, one of them will not be any longer. Over the next three weeks a lot is going to happen. The Cougars following an open date still must play Patrick Henry and Salem. GW-Danville is likely going to have smooth sailing with a schedule without a challenge. Should Glass defeat Forest, they will close very strong as well. Forest still has a game at Heritage of Lynchburg the final week. There will be a few games that will determine the final ratings down the stretch of the season, but none likely as much as Pulaski County vs. Blacksburg.

The VHSL Power Ratings for Region 4D are 1- Blacksburg at 27.71, 2- Forest at 26.67, 3- Glass 26.17, 4- Pulaski Co. 24.71, 5- GW-Danville 24.00, 6- Liberty Christian 22.61, 7- Salem 22.60, 8- Wm. Byrd 22.5. Notice a 5-1 Byrd team is rated lower than Salem who is 4-3. That’s strength of schedule. Salem has lost three games to teams that are a combined 20-0. Many things will have a bearing on the ratings down the stretch. The only way you can control your situation is by winning.

The eight teams listed above are all going to the Region 4D playoffs. The four teams not listed aren’t going to catch anybody. Yes, Pulaski County is already a playoff team in 2018, and that’s very good, but it’s like riding in an airplane. Do you want to sit up front in the first class section, or do you want to ride in the back of the plane. Friday night will have a huge say in that.

By DAN CALLAHAN, The Patriot