RICHLANDS, Va. — A week after Richlands stormed into Gate City and whipped up a 48-14 win over the Blue Devils, the Blue Tornado returns home to take on the Honaker Tigers in their second non-district game in as many weeks.

The Tigers are coming off a deceptively close 35-14 loss to rival Lebanon after taking their opening drive 63 yards in seven snaps for a touchdown.

“From the film we watched, Honaker dominated the football game,” Richlands head coach Greg Mance said. “Except for a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, a 65-yard interception return and a botched punt, Honaker dominated the game from 20-to-20. Those three plays made the difference in the game.”

Last year, Richlands beat the Tigers in Honaker 37-0. However, this season the Blues are not taking anything for granted.

“We’re going to have to play sound football,” Mance. “Honaker is coming together and when they do, they’re going to be a good football team.”

A bevy of injuries to the Tornado line has forced the newcomers on the varsity club to rise to the occasion.

One surprise in the line for the Blues last Friday was Chase Fuller, who was thought to be out for the better part of the season. Fuller not only started, but he was instrumental in springing tailback Caleb Jennings for 82 yards on nine totes.

Jennings had a stellar night for the Blues with three touchdowns from different aspects of the Tornado attack. On the first touch of the season, Jennings caught a Gate City punt inside his own 15-yard line and a block and stiff arm later, Jennings was in the Blues Devils’ end zone.

Jennings will look to be a factor against the Tigers this season after missing the onset of last season with an injury.

“We’re really young,” Honaker head coach Doug Hubbard said. “We have nine new players on offense and nine on defense with two returning starters on each.”

Honaker produced 15 first downs against Lebanon and passed for 200 yards, completing 14-of-32 passes, which could provide a challenge for the Tornado secondary. Penalties were a factor for both teams last week, with Honaker penalized for 80 yards and the Tornado had 90 yards marched off against them.

“We have to get organized, we had two snaps where we had 10 and nine men on the field and we had to call timeout,” Mance said. “We had too many penalties, but we’ve improved all week and we’ve been working hard this week to do a better job fundamentally.”

Last week against Gate City, the Tornado pulled their starting unit midway through the third quarter to bring in the players listed in the depth chart for mop up duty.

“I feel like with all of the injuries we’ve had this year, we’ve thrown some of our younger players to the wolves,” Mance said. “Sophomores or players in their first year like Britt Altizer, Roy Christian and Kris Null have really had to step up and they’ve done a good job.”

With tropical storm Ernesto in the Atlantic, rain could be a factor Friday night, producing a muddy Ernie Hicks Stadium.

“Honaker is big on the offensive and defensive line,” Mance said. “And if it rains, the weather could help Honaker. They will run the ball downhill and we spread things out and run a lot of fakes.”

The latest forecast has rain all day on Friday, with about six inches predicted by the end of the day.

“If Doug Hubbard has anything to say about it, we’re going to play,” Hubbard said, with a laugh. “Richlands is fast and they spread thing out. If it’s wet and muddy, that should slow them way down.”

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