Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local Sports

September 19, 2013

Rivalry renewed as Giles hosts Narrows

PEARISBURG, Va. — There are lots of big rivalries in the region, but few match up with Giles and Narrows.

It’s not just on the gridiron.

“It is a fun week because both communities support the football teams and the schools so well,” Narrows head coach Kelly Lowe said. “It is just not football, you go in here for a volleyball game and both sides are packed.

“It is just a great atmosphere for a high school football, both communities supports their team and it is just a lot of fun.”

It has been 10 years — a 28-21 decision in 2002 — since Narrows defeated Giles on the football field, but Spartans’ head coach Jeff Williams isn’t worried about history.

“I don’t know how many years it has been,” he said. “I don’t keep up with that, all I know it is another Narrows-Giles football game on Friday night.

That means the place to be in Giles County will be Pearisburg, and Narrows senior running back Rodney Perdue can’t wait to get started.

“I love playing in front of big crowds, I love hearing the roars of the crowds, it is just a great feeling,” said Perdue, whose cousin, Tyler, is a running back for Giles. “I love going in and getting the butterflies and the chill bumps, there is a not a better feeling than the Narrows-Giles game.”

While Giles has dominated the series in recent years, the Green Wave hasn’t used the reality of enrollment declines at Narrows as an excuse.

“It is tough, but we still love to play this game,” Lowe said. “We enjoy it, it is a great week and we feel like we try to step up to the challenge each year.”

While Narrows enters with a 2-1 record and its first two-game win streak since 2008, the Spartans are 2-0, having defeated Division 3 Blacksburg in overtime and then squeezing out a 28-24 decision over D-4 Christiansburg two weeks ago.

“We know we have a tough task ahead of us, Giles has a great football team,” Lowe said. “Coach Williams does a great job up there, we know what we are going to get from them.

“We are going to get solid line play, great blocking, great running back play and we have to step up and play our game.”

As is usually the case, the prescription for success at Giles is the single wing offense, that is spearheaded by unique blocking schemes and fast running backs, led by Brett Whitlow, who has 382 yards in two games.

It’s not just Whitlow. Williams likes his depth in that area, including Tyler Perdue, who had a kick return for a touchdown against Christiansburg, Brian Mann and Dusty Boggess.

“(Brett) is running the ball really well, but we feel like we have several backs that are just really good football players,” Williams said. “We feel like we have several kids that can really make some plays for us...

“It will just come down blocking and tackling and playing good defense, just like any other Friday night,” he added. “Hopefully we can block well, play good, solid defense, tackle well and protect the football.”

After a loss to open the season against Auburn — which snapped a 39-game losing skid for the Eagles — the Green Wave has won two straight, 7-6 over Eastern Montgomery and 38-14 against Montcalm.

Those wins have definitely caught the attention of Williams, who knows the Green Wave will come in teeming with confidence.

“Any time you are in that situation you are pleased with the outcome,” said Williams, of Giles 2-0 start. “So far the kids have played really hard and we have got two big victories, and we are really pleased to be in the situation we are in.

“No matter what the situation is this game, it is probably going to be a big game. Narrows has two big wins under the belt and we are 2-0 so that sets up to be even bigger.”

Contending with the single wing is something Narrows has done every season, but Perdue likes his defense, calling it ‘the strongest we have ever been since my four years’.

“We have ran the single wing way back when so we kind of know what is going on, but as a player’s point of view, it is hard to read,” Perdue said. “I feel like the way we are setting our defense up this week is going to make it a lot easier for us to read.”

Any single wing approach depends on a strong offensive line, and the Spartans are talented and developing depth at that position.

“We are progressively getting better each week. We are not where we want to be right now,” Williams said. “In the Christiansburg game we had two starting linemen out and they didn’t play, but we are working different kids in there and getting good depth and they are doing a good job for us.

“For this early in the season we have done pretty good, but we hope to get progressively better on the offensive line.”

While Giles is known for large rushing totals, Narrows had 488 of their own on the ground at Montcalm, including 233 by Rodney Perdue and 176 by Terrance Martin, who was a tight end until two week ago.  

“We have got to stop the running game, and we have got to be able to take care of the football on offense,” Lowe said. “We have got to put some drives together and put some points on the board.”

Williams knows Perdue — who has 406 yards in three games — can run the ball. His father, of the same name, was also a standout at Narrows.

“Rodney has turned out to be a good football player, but he comes from great stock when you think about it,” Williams said. “His dad was spectacular in high school, a great football player.

“The thing about Rodney is he is just a good athlete, he is a good football player, but he is a good athlete as well.”

Kickoff at Stephen C. Ragsdale Stadium at Giles tonight is at 7 p.m. Get there early tonight, the place will be packed.

“That is what is great about it, these kids get to play in front of a large crowd,” Lowe said. “Giles is going to be there wearing their red and supporting Giles and our community is going to be there wearing green and gold and supporting us...

“It is a lot of fun, you just think back and it is just a week these kids will never forget, it is just a great atmosphere for a high school football game.”

 —Contact Brian Woodson  bwoodson@bdtonline.com

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