By LARRY HYPES
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
TAZEWELL, Va. —
It’s Bulldogs against Birds tonight.
Old rival Abingdon (3-5) entertains Tazewell (2-6) Friday night in a battle between two teams seeking different goals. The Bulldogs, who walloped Grundy 47-8 last week, would like a repeat effort. Abingdon’s Falcons, however, after losing a heartbreaking 21-17 decision at Richlands in the final minute, wants to turn things around.
“Last week was very positive for us,” notes Tazewell coach Shane Allen. “We had a lot of things go well and we picked up a victory. I am sure that Abingdon will come out and make every effort to get back in the win column. It should be a very hard-fought game between two teams that need to win.”
Both the Falcons and Tazewell still have playoff aspirations but need to win their final two games and get some help from other teams on their respective schedules.
Allen says, “Our destiny is not entirely in our hands. We must have some help and hope that those teams we have played do real well these last couple of weeks. Of course, the first thing is, we have to take care of business. Nothing matters unless we do our job.”
With the best defensive effort of the year a week ago and stalwart offensive outputs from Malik Davis (133 yards rushing, 126 passing) and Nick Blankenship (4 touchdowns, an interception return for a score, a 41-yard touchdown pass from Davis) the Bulldogs grabbed the momentum and never let go. Jesse Mountain caught a 57-yard touchdown pass to aid the Bulldog attack.
Steven Collier, Chris Hall, Carter Rasnick, J.P. Marinus, Garrett Jessee, and Bubba Asbury were among the Tazewell defenders who had outstanding games a week ago.
Coach John Boyles’s Falcon squad, which led 10-0 at halftime and 17-14 with :09 seconds remaining against the Blue Tornado, could not hold on to the “mo” and victory slipped away.
“That (game) was a tough one,” says Allen. “That shows what a good team Abingdon has, to be able to go to Richlands and play step for step with them the whole night. Not many teams have been able to do that in recent years.”
Abingdon opened the season with losses at John Battle, 36-20 and Gate City, 42-21, before bouncing back to beat Chilhowie, 27-18. The Falcons then traveled to Happy Valley, Tenn., dropping a 28-26 decision before beating Volunteer, Tenn., 37-12. Abingdon stopped Lebanon, 14-7 and lost to Virginia High, 38-14, two weeks ago.
Tazewell lost 48-7 to Virginia, fell 30-14 at Graham, got stopped 41-20 at Sullivan Central, Tenn., and was defeated in a frustrating 45-53 game at Chilhowie. The Dogs whipped George Wythe 35-20, lost 27-15 to Marion and 34-27 to Richlands before defeating Grundy a week ago.
Trey Arnold is the versatile and hard-running Abingdon quarterback who directs what Allen terms more of a standard T formation. He says the Falcons mix up their front defenses but once again have a good set of skill people and an excellent kicker, Skyler Simcox.
“Abingdon has a very good football. Going to their home field to play them is always a challenge. They are well coached and we will have to bring our very best effort Friday night,” says Allen.
Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. from Falcon Field with coverage on 107.7 FM.