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Turner Ashby's Grant Swinehart tries to get around Western Albemarle's Carson Tujague.

Five Things

Turner Ashby's Success Isn't a Hoax

There were legitimate questions about whether Turner Ashby actually had a chance to turn things around after its season-opening victory over struggling William Monroe.

Those questions are gone now after the Knights put on a solid all-around performance in a 48-26 victory over perennial playoff team Western Albemarle on Friday.

It wasn't just the TA defense that looked improved as the Knights scored on all four of their possessions in the second half and showed off a well-balanced attack.

It was the type of display we haven't seen in quite some time from Turner Ashby and was enough to get coaches and players excited about what the rest of the year holds.

"A lot of hard work in the offseason is paying off, a lot of time in the weight room," TA senior Brandon Onestak said. "It's finally great to win after two lackluster seasons. It's a breath of fresh air."

With Monticello, Wilson Memorial and Staunton left on the non-district schedule, the Knights now look primed to make a solid run at going into district play unbeaten.

High-Smith May Be Area's Best QB-WR Duo

Everyone knew how good Ryan High was, but his partner is equally as impressive.

Six-foot-3 receiver Rob Smith showcased all the improvement he made over the summer last week as he caught four touchdown passes in Spotswood's dominating 75-13 rout of non-district foe William Monroe in Penn Laird.

It was High's first game back from injury and when paired with Smith, the two torched a Dragons defense that never did seem to catch up with the Trailblazers offense.

It also was a big difference from the week before when Spotswood - with High out with an injury - didn't complete a single pass and grinded out a 20-12 win over East Rockingham.

"We're a lot more explosive when we have our running game and our passing game together," SHS fourth-year coach Dale Shifflett said. "We kind of showed what we can do when we have the full arsenal of guys together. It was nice to be able to do that last week after we had kind of a ground-and-pound game."

Spotswood already has one of the area's best running backs in Ethan Barnhart, but last week showed they may have the best passing duo in High and Smith as well.

Gobblers Still A Young, Inexperienced Team

With all of the energy and enthusiasm around Broadway and first-year coach Danny Grogg this preseason, it's been easy at times to forget how young the Gobblers are.

Sure, Broadway brought back some talent in guys like Nate Tinnell, David Thew and Brent Hulse, but there are a lot of big names from last year that graduated in the spring.

When you add in the fact that Bryce Suters isn't playing this season as he focuses on his baseball career and Caleb Williams still hasn't returned from injury, that's challenging.

What Grogg and the Gobblers coaching staff are figuring out is that they still have some work to do on both sides of the ball and bringing younger players up to speed is the most important task on their to-do list at the moment as they sit at 0-2 on the season.

"We've got to continue to go to work," Grogg said. "We're still learning about our new scheme, learning how we want to do things. We've got two brand new offensive coordinators. We've just got to continue to get better every day. The focus has to be in practice and I feel like we have to do a better job of coaches at making sure we're getting our kids prepared."

Fortunately for Grogg, the BHS players have bought into what he's doing and once the Gobblers get everyone on the same page, a quicker turnaround will be expected.

Plenty Of Question Marks Surrounding Streaks

It's hard to pinpoint exactly what's wrong with Harrisonburg right now.

The defense hasn't been great - the Streaks are giving up 41.5 points per game - but there are plenty of other issues with this team right now as well on both sides of the ball.

Seven turnovers is a killer for any team and that's exactly how many Harrisonburg committed in its loss to Handley and that was just the start of the problems.

Kwentin Smiley scored a touchdown for the second-straight week, but once again, the Streaks didn't get any other play into the end zone and struggled to establish an identity on the offensive side.

"When you put your defense on the field for 40 of 48 minutes, they're going to eventually wear down," HHS coach Chris Thurman said. "We had so many turnovers."

For now, Harrisonburg has a lot of growing up to do in a lot of areas on the field and until they do, it's going to post more challenges as Valley District play gets closer.

East Rock Defense Deserves More Credit

There was a lot of talk about the struggles East Rockingham had in its season-opening loss to Spotswood, but a lot of that looks a little overblown upon further reflection.

The Trailblazers appear to be on a different level this season on both sides of the ball and although quarterback Ryan High missed the win over the Eagles, it doesn't take away from the fact that the ERHS defense still looked stout most of that contest.

It's no secret East Rock is still building its identity offensively with an array of new faces, but the Eagles have a lot of familiarity defensively and it is paying off.

With linebackers Trenton Morris and Colton Good leading the way, East Rockingham still features one of the better defensive units in the area and its the strength of this year's team.

While it may not be quite as strong as year's past, the ERHS defense is still formidable and will carry the Eagles if they hope to compete for a Bull Run District title this season.


Three Tops

Ryan High, Spotswood quarterback

In his first game back since having emergency appendectomy surgery, Ryan High showcased why he's considered one of the area's best quarterbacks this season.

The 6-foot-3 signal-caller completed 9-of-13 passes for 356 yards before exiting in the third quarter and finished with six touchdown passes.

Four of High's six scoring tosses went to senior receiver Rob Smith.

C.J. Haskins, Turner Ashby quarterback

C.J. Haskins showed all the reasons the Turner Ashby coaching staff moved him to quarterback during the Knights' 48-26 rout of Western Albemarle on Friday.

The 5-foot-9, 180-pounder finished 13-for-18 passing for 231 yards and a score and added nine carries for 83 yards on the ground and two more touchdowns.

It was the best performance of the season for the TA senior, who has a team-high seven touchdowns through the first two games.

Rob Smith, Spotswood receiver

No one benefited more from Ryan High's return on Friday than Rob Smith.

The 6-foot-3 senior receiver showcased all the improvement he made throughout the offseason as he hauled in a career-high four touchdown passes in the 75-13 win.

Smith also ran a kickoff back 99 yards for a score in the third quarter and had an interception that was returned 30 yards in the second half.

Contact Cody Elliott at 574-6284 or celliott@dnronline.com | Follow Cody on Twitter: @Cody_DNRSports

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