By LLOYD COMBS
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
HAYSI, Va. —
Expect Haysi and Galax to cover a lot of ground Saturday.
When the top running backs on each team have combined for over 4,000 rushing yards, that’s a safe assumption.
Two of the top runners in their respective areas of the state will on display as the Tigers host the Maroon Tide in second round action of the Group 1A West playoffs Saturday at Sandlick Elementary School.
Haysi star Jeffrey Bowen won’t be at full strength after suffering an ankle injury and sitting out last week’s 22-8 first round win over Eastside, but Bowen at 75 to 80 percent is better than most backs at 100 percent.
The rugged and fast senior ran for 1,934 yards in 10 regular season games.
Galax brings record-setting tailback Steven Peoples to Sandlick. The 5-foot-11, 200-pound senior ran for 2,410 yards and an amazing 35 touchdowns in nine regular season games, averaging 267.8 yards per game and 14.8 yards per carry.
Peoples, who set a VHSL record with 502 rushing yards in a mid-season win at Graham, added 329 yards and five TDs in last week’s impressive 51-20 win over defending state champion George Wythe.
He needs another 261 yards Saturday to reach 3,000 for the season. The state single-season record of 3,319 yards belongs to former Powell Valley great and former NFL standout Thomas Jones.
“He’s a really good running back, the best we’ve seen this year,” said Haysi coach James Colley of Peoples. “He runs hard, he’s a hard-nosed runner. Like all good backs he follows his blocks well, he cuts well off them.
“We have to play assignment football, get to where we belong and we’ve got to wrap up. Peoples breaks a lot of tackles, but if wrap up I think we’ll be OK.”
Galax coach Mark Dixon was an All-American at Virginia and played in the NFL for the Miami Dolphins.
Bowen is expected to play. Saturday’s winner will host Friday night’s J.I. Burton-Auburn winner next weekend.