NARROWS, Va. — High school football has never been one of the traditional rites of February in the town of Narrows. But there’s a first time for everything.
After having been sidelined since the end of its 11-1 season in the fall of 2019, the Narrows High School football team is set to kick off the 2021 Spring Football campaign with a Pioneer District mutual opener with visiting Bath County tonight. Kickoff time is set for 7 p.m.
Narrows head football coach Kelly Lowe said his natural grass field appears to be in great condition in spite of the recent surge of winter weather and rapid snow melt-off.
“We’ve messed around a little bit on it and didn’t do too much damage to it. Hopefully the sun will come out on Tuesday and dry up all this rain. But for now, the field is in remarkably fine shape,” Lowe said.
Lowe noted that only 250 spectators — Narrows and Bath County combined — will be allowed inside the gates of Harry Ragsdale Field for tonight’s game. However, he expects that a great many more fans will situate themselves outside the fences in various strategic positions where they can still see some of the action.
“We have a good situation. You can sit on the road above the field and watch the game. You can stand on the sidewalk in-between the stadium and the duck pond and watch the game. So there are opportunities for people to see the game without being inside the stadium,” said Lowe, who noted that a new directive with regard to allowable spectator numbers is due March 1. “By the time we have another home game, it could be totally different.”
Streaming video for tonight’s game will be available through a link on the Narrows Athletics Facebook Page. The game will also be broadcast on live radio by WNRV (990 AM/97.3 FM)
The Green Wave have some battle-tested veterans from the 2019 team dressing out tonight, including tight end Cole Needham, tackle Ben Clemons, guard Hunter Smith, fullback Ty Robertson, receiver and running back Jake Robertson, receiver Logan Green, receiver Blake Kirby. Reid Bowman steps in as quarterback. Bowman is a returning defensive veteran at linebacker, but has plugged into the offense wherever he was needed in previous season.
Including Bowman, Narrows has six starters returning on defense. There are others who have meaningful playing time under their belts The team has 12 returning seniors on the roster who play who’ve been part of 32 wins at the program since they came on board in the ninth grade.
“And those seniors have been solid for us. We’re playing this as a game — we want to be as successful but while we have a lot of kids returning we have a lot of question marks, too. Without having had that first scrimmage, we’re going to have to use our first game to provide some scrimmage opportunities for those kids you’re trying to find out about. It’s going to be interesting. We’ve never had this before,” Lowe said.
Neither team has had the opportunity to scout one another, but the two head coaches shared enough basic information with one another so the respective defenses will at least have a clue how to line up.
“Usually we have four weeks of preparation to get kids in football shape for that first game. We’ve had two weeks for everybody and a week with our basketball kids. Everybody is going to be in the same boat,” Lowe said. “One thing people are going to notice is that it’s not going to be as crisp as it normally is. Usually the first game is a little sloppy anyway. It’s going to be even moreso this year. I think you’re going to see it in the tackling, first.”
The Green Wave will play six regular season games. The post-season period has been abbreviated from five weeks to a regional semifinal followed by a regional final, leading to a state semifinal and ending with a state final. Hypothetically, Narrows could make an unbeaten run to a Class 1 state championship and be one victory shy of its 2019 win total.
“We just talk about how that we’re so fortunate just to be able to play. Our kids are relishing that. We’ve gone outside and the real feel [with wind chill] was 15 degrees and we’d stay outside for two hours and there’s not one kid complaining. They’re just happy to be out there practicing,” Lowe said.