By LLOYD COMBS
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
For the second week in a row Honaker is involved in, arguably, the biggest game in southwest Virginia.
The Tigers knocked John Battle from the ranks of the unbeaten last week in Bristol. Now Honaker (5-0) tries to remain undefeated when it hosts perennial Group 1A power Clintwood (4-1) tonight at Emats Stadium.
It's one of just three games involving Black Diamond District clubs this evening. Grundy and Hurley have the week off.
Twin Valley (2-4) looks for its second straight win when it makes the long trip to Ashton for a first-ever meeting with Hannan (1-4). Haysi (5-0) is heavily favored to keep its record unblemished as it hosts Thomas Walker (1-5).
Honaker relishes the challenge of playing one of the top teams in the region for the second straight week.
Tonight's matchup pits a team that was a state runner-up in 2012 (the Tigers) against the team that won a state title in 2011 (the Greenwave).
"You've got to get ready to play your best every game every week, but this is a little different playing two really good football teams," said Honaker coach Doug Hubbard.
"It's a good, tough test for us playing John Battle and Clintwood back-to-back, something that will prepare us, hopefully, for the playoffs down the road. The kids are excited about it."
In recent years Honaker has had success throwing the football more than it did in the past, while the Greenwave have generally been the most physical team on the field.
Since the Tigers lost quarterback Ty Hall and Clintwood lost its single-season rushing leader Gavan Meade to graduation, the teams have traded places to some extent.
Honaker has gone back to the power running game Hubbard, now in his 31st season at the Tiger helm, prefers and it worked to perfection in last week's win at John Battle.
The Tigers controlled the ball and the clock as Austin Smith ran for a career-high 203 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winner on a one-yard run with 1:58 remaining.
Dalton Dahley, meanwhile, threw three touchdown passes, two of them to Austin Turner, in last week's 45-7 rout of Castlewood. The Greenwave are still, Hubbard cautions, big and physical when they need to be.
"It's a little different look for Clintwood, a few new formations, but they still love to run and they still have those big ol' linemen," Hubbard said. "Our players have bought into the concept of how we need to move the football.
"Our offense hinges on us running the football and everybody knows that. But the kids enjoy it. We have a hard-nosed runner in Austin Smith and the offensive line blocks well. If we do that we have a chance to be successful."
Honaker is currently in the top spot in the VHSL Group 1A West power ratings. The Greenwave now occupy the 6th spot among the top 16 teams. Clintwood owns a win over another southwest Virginia power this season, Union. It's only loss this season came at Haysi.