For many people, the 4{sup}th{/sup} of July doesn’t just mean celebrating our country’s independence, but it’s also an unofficial beginning to summer. That means barbeques, vacations with family and fun in the sun.

It also means a new high school sports season is right around the corner.

From football to field hockey to volleyball and everything in between, local student-athletes will be taking the field—or court—relatively soon.

With that said, grab a hamburger, hot dog, or whatever your guilty summer pleasure may be, and let’s kick back and talk about four of the most intriguing storylines for the upcoming high school season.

1. What can the Eastern View football team do for an encore this season?

Eastern View football has become synonymous with success over the years, but last year’s 13-1 campaign was the best in the program’s short history. Quarterback Matt Lowry, running back Tre Holmes and linebacker Zach Brown have all graduated, as have linemen Adam Lillard, Tyler Settle, Avery Sites, Parris Owen and Jordan Dodson, wide receivers Noah Procter, Quenell Tyree and return specialist Keyshawn Butler.

Lowry, Holmes, Brown, Lillard, Sites and Owen were each named to the Class 4 all-state team, which in and of itself demonstrates how much talent the Cyclones lost.

However, Coach Greg Hatfield’s cupboard is far from bare. Blake Leake, a first-team all-state honoree at both receiver and defensive back, returns to lead the team, as does second-team all-state defensive back Chance Graves and All-Region 4B selection Alex Spangler.

Graves and Spangler will join Leake to comprise a receiving corps that should be at least as strong as what Eastern View had a year ago, while junior varsity grads Raq Lawson, Josh Logan, Ronta Robinson and Elijah Harris all seem poised to make an impact in the backfield or wherever else Hatfield and his coaching staff choose to line them up at.

Other returnees, such as linemen Ricky Robinson, Jason Southern, Elijah Hoskin and Jeff Stallings, as well as linebacker Drew Shurina and defensive back Zaire King, should help provide major stability for the Cyclones across the board.

But can they take the next step and make a run to the state championship game in 2019? Stay tuned.

2. What changes does new Culpeper football coach James Ford have in store for the Blue Devils?

When James Ford was named as the new head football coach at Culpeper in April, it immediately raised questions throughout the community about what steps Ford might take to not only keep the Blue Devils competitive overall, but to close the gap between them and their county rivals at Eastern View.

Ken Wakefield didn’t exactly leave the Culpeper program in shambles when he departed to accept the head job at Patrick Henry-Ashland in March. Wakefield led the Blue Devils to a 9-5 mark and their first region championship and state playoff appearance since 2001 in his final season at the helm, and a handful of Culpeper players moved on to play at the collegiate level.

Still, the gap between Culpeper and Eastern View on the gridiron isn’t just perception. The Cyclones also won a region crown and went to the state playoffs last year, and they’ve made the playoffs for six consecutive seasons to boot. They’re 36-3 since 2016, and they haven’t lost a regular season game since September 2015.

Ford and his new staff have already been hard at work over their first two months on the job, working feverishly to re-establish a database of school records to instill pride and underscore the program’s tradition. In addition to stepping up offseason conditioning regimens with current Blue Devil players, Ford and Co. have also established a youth camp that will run from July 16-18 for local kids ages 7-13. It will feature current and former Culpeper players and Ford and his staff as instructors.

I don’t know about you, but that seems like a great way to cultivate a football pipeline in a community that’s crazy about the sport.

3. Will Madison County’s volleyball team be loaded for once again?

The short answer to this question is yes, they likely will be.

Madison County’s volleyball team went 25-2 last season, advancing all the way to the Class 2 state semifinals before falling 3-2 to eventual state runner-up Poquoson. That team did lose six seniors to graduation: Emillee Russell, Kaylan Boone, Allie Burbridge, Lane Fox, Makenna Santinga and Logyn Estes. Santinga

The departures of Santinga, a first-team all-state pick, and Burbridge, a second-team selection, will no doubt be felt by the Mountaineers. But the 10 returnees, led by rising senior Abi Tanner and rising junior Emily Dodson, should be more than talented enough to not only ensure the Mountaineers cut through the Bull Run District like a hot knife through butter yet again, but keep them a force in Region 2B.

As witnessed by Madison’s tight loss in the Poquoson game, the margin for error at the state level is very slim and most teams are evenly-matched. If the Mountaineers can learn from that setback, they should be in the hunt for the ultimate prize once again as well.

4. Can the Eastern View field hockey team get over the hump and win the state title?

For two years in a row, Eastern View’s field hockey team has come up just shy of a state title in the Class 4 championship game.

In 2018, the Cyclones’ heartbreak came at the hands of Battlefield District rival Chancellor in a 2-1 setback.

Eastern View lost a lot of talent to graduation from that squad, namely Logan Stockton, Morgan Tricarico and Emma Haught. But the talent Coach Peggy Allen’s team has coming back in 2019 is also quite exceptional.

Rising seniors Sarah Hatfield (F), Augusta Bailey (MF) and Jensen Armstrong (GK) were all first-team all-state honorees last year. In addition to them, the Cyclones return seniors Cassidy Morrison and Cassidy Armstrong and sophomore Mia Hutchinson to the mix.

It’s never easy for Eastern View in the Battlefield District, which is arguably the toughest field hockey district to compete in across Virginia. In addition to Chancellor’s Class 4 crown, James Monroe won the Class 3 championship for the second season in a row last fall. But the level of competition has undoubtedly benefited the Cyclones over the past two years, hardening Allen’s squad to make its runs to the final day of the season.

Now, all they have to do is get over the proverbial hump.

Get the latest news in our Headlines newsletter in your inbox each day with the top stories.

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Recommended for you