Apr. 8—NARROWS, Va. — Narrows High School football coach Kelly Lowe couldn't help but notice the COVID contact tracing attrition that has already affected the Class 2 brackets. King William testing positive for COVID-19 has automatically catapulted Amelia County to next week's Class 2 Region A finals to face the winner of this week's Region A game between Nottoway and Poquoson.
As it did in West Virginia this past fall, it is possible that outbreaks in other areas could similarly affect the VHSL Class 1 brackets. But that's not something the Green Wave can control.
"I was a little surprised, but the VHSL has said from the first that if [COVID contact tracing] happens, they're not going to push anything back ... they're going to move forward. There have been some instances like that happening in the regular season, but I guess where it wasn't playoff time, it wasn't broadcasted out a lot. But you expect it's going to happen in some places," Lowe said.
The Green Wave (6-0) looks to advance in the Region 1C brackets in the conventional manner, looking forward to a Friday night clash with Parry McCluer (4-2) at Harry Ragsdale Field in Narrows. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
The Green Wave defeated the Fighting Blues 32-0 in a Monday night game at Buena Vista, Va. on March 1. George Wythe (3-2) and Galax (6-0) are meeting in the other 1C regional semifinal bracket. Narrows is coming off its fifth consecutive shutout with last week's defeat of arch-rival Giles, but Lowe does not expect his team to be looking past Friday night's opponent.
He noted that Parry McCluer appears to have improved a great deal since the first meeting. What the Green Wave remains fixated upon is it's own continual improvement.
"We're about us. We're not about what the other team does or has," said Lowe. "We feel like if we play to our potential, then we're going to be in great shape. We're going to take care of our techniques. We're going to take care of our alignment. We're going to take care of everything we need to do and put our best foot forward. That's been our focus all year."
Mobile Parry McCluer quarterback Ty Ruley was the Blues' Man of the Hour in their 27-14 win over James River. In spite of having been a victim of what has become a five-game shutout streak for the Narrows defense, Ruley and Co. are sure to feel more confident that they can end that streak — and perhaps shock the Green Wave enough to mount an upset attempt.
"[Ruley] runs the ball a lot for them. He spreads the ball around and is very elusive. He's a powerful runner. He can get out of the pocket and make things happen, either by scrambling and running the ball or buying more time to throw the ball. He's definitely a kid that we've got to contain. And another thing ... they are so big. They are absolutely massive up front," Lowe said.
Stopping Narrows' offense will be a tall order in its own right. Narrows' 34-0 win over the Spartans last week not only highlighted the Green Wave defense — it was a display of alpha-offensive acumen. That's how it's been since the 2021 spring season started. Other victims include James River (54-0), Bath County (59-0), Parry McCluer (32-0) and Eastern Montgomery (53-0). Narrows' starting quarterback is also a hard-nosed middle linebacker: Reid Bowman. It is no fun trying to slow down this offense. As a unit, it does not lack physical courage.
As for the shutouts, history is part of this chase, but the pursuit of that elusive state championship is also history. It's probably going to take more than a PM touchdown to shake Narrows' faith in itself.
"As a coaching staff and a team, we have not discussed [the school shutout record] one time. We have not brought it up. It has not been a topic of conversation. I'm not naive enough to believe it hasn't been talked about [privately] between players. But it's not something we focus on as a team," said Lowe.
"The only thing we focus on is, at the end of the night, are their more points on our side of the scoreboard than the other team? That's the sign we've done our job for that night."