Set to enter the River Ridge District this fall, Carroll County’s sports teams will be facing the toughest levels of competition in school history. Some quick research on the upcoming football schedule certainly backs that point up.
Of the 10 teams the Cavaliers are scheduled to face on the gridiron this fall, eight of them made the playoffs last year. Of those eight postseason squads, half of them went at least three rounds deep in the state playoffs.
During a three-game stretch in October, Carroll County will host three consecutive games against teams that at least made it to the regional title game in 2012. Perhaps the Oct. 11 home game with Cave Spring best explains the increased level of competition the Cavs will face this season. While the Knights went just 5-5 in the regular season and 3-2 in the River Ridge, Cave Spring advanced to the Region IV, Division 3 finals a year ago after hammering Carroll’s old Southwest District foes Abingdon (45-0) and Richlands (31-6) by a combined score of 76-6.
The Cavaliers will host Christiansburg the following week, a team that made it to the Region IV, Division 4 title game a year ago, beating Carroll County 55-28 along the way. And then on Oct. 25 comes perennial state powerhouse Salem, which finished 12-1 last season en route to the Group AA, Division IV State semifinal game. Salem has won six state championships in football since 1996, the most recent coming in 2005.
The Cavaliers also host a Mount Airy team that went 12-2 last season and reached the third round of the 1-AA playoffs in North Carolina. The 10 teams Carroll County plays this year combined to go 68-50 last year. Take away a combined 2-18 record by Patrick County and Blacksburg, and the other eight teams on the Cavaliers’ schedule went 66-32 in 2012.
Carroll’s Sept. 27 opponent, Pulaski County, reached the second round of the playoffs last year, while Patrick Henry-Roanoke and Floyd County were also playoff teams in 2012.
“We knew when this happened that the competition level was going to increase a lot. I don’t know of a better way to put it,” Carroll County head football coach Tom Hale said of the Cavaliers’ move to the River Ridge District. “It’s going to increase a lot. We’ve stressed this with our kids since it happened that we were going to have to step up to be competitive with these teams. I feel like for the most part a majority of our kids have done this. Our kids have worked hard.”
Hale knows the Cavaliers face a daunting task, especially after a 2-8 campaign last year and with dwindling numbers in the football program. He hopes more kids will decide to put on the helmets and pads before the start of the season, but a powerhouse schedule hasn’t exactly been a great selling point.
“I also feel like we have lost kids in our program because of this. Usually by this point in the summer, I know exactly what our numbers are going to be starting out, and right now we are looking at about 50 kids total,” Hale said. “And so I can’t attribute this to anything but the fact that our younger kids are looking at this and they’ve not made up their minds yet if they are going to do it, that they are willing to take it on.”
Varsity football practice is set to start Aug. 1 at CCHS. A parents’ meeting will be held Aug. 9 before Carroll’s nighttime intrasquad scrimmage that evening. Hale said any boy in grades 9-12 interested in playing football needs to show up at 8 a.m. on Aug. 1.
Carroll County 2013 varsity football schedule
Aug. 30 at Floyd County
Sept. 6 Mt. Airy
Sept. 13 at Blacksburg
Sept. 27 at Pulaski County
Oct. 4 Hidden Valley
Oct. 11 Cave Spring
Oct. 18 Christiansburg
Oct. 25 Salem
Nov 1 at PH-Roanoke
Nov. 8 at Patrick County