The Rebels didn’t need much offense over the next two quarters because they dominated J.I. Burton on both sides of the ball on their way to a 24-0 win.
After securing its first state semifinals appearance, Patrick Henry (13-0) will host Region 1C champion Galax next week. Kickoff at Fred Selfe Stadium is set for 3 p.m.
“A region championship is very important to me because I played in this region and I saw the Appalachia, Powell Valley and John I. Burton teams that were great in Region D,” Patrick Henry coach Mark Palmer said. “So many great schools and teams have their names on that trophy and I’ve tried to teach our kids about the history of this region.”
Much like last year’s regional semifinal matchup, the Raiders (10-3) could not stop the three-headed rushing attack of Zach Brown, Cody Smith and Dakota Rector.
The Rebels added a couple of weapons this year, too, mixing in sophomores Connor Beeson and Cody Pruitt on some sweeps to the outside.
After getting the ball to start the game, Patrick Henry marched from its 40-yard line in 13 plays, finishing off the drive with Brown’s 6-yard touchdown run. The march took nearly half of the quarter.
After a Raiders three-and-out, the Rebels put together 10 plays and scored again on a Brown run for a two-possession lead in the second quarter.
A Rector sneak late in the first half proved to be the game’s final touchdown. All of the Rebels’ TDs were followed by successful 2-point conversions by Smith.
Brown finished with 14 carries for 79 yards and the two scores. Smith carried 15 times for 50 yards and was especially effective on third down.
Patrick Henry totaled 158 rushing yards after working with a short field most of the game.
“These kids have been paying their dues and they’re very talented young men,” Palmer said. “With all those different things in place, I felt like this was the right attack and we’ve been balanced all year.”
NO ANSWERS FROM BURTON
Burton was in desperate need of some big plays in the second quarter, but quarterback Jaymen Buchanan faced constant pressure every time he dropped back.
Of the Raiders’ three first-half possessions, the Raiders punted twice and were intercepted once.
Mikey Culbertson totaled nine carries for 34 yards and Esau Teasley rushed 10 times for 50 yards. The Raiders managed just four first downs and 114 yards of offense.
“They were stronger than us on both sides of the ball today,” J.I. Burton coach Jacob Caudill said. “All four of their backs don’t go down on first contact easily and we have to do a better job of tackling. They all run hard.
“A 10-win season is always good, but we just got outmanned today.
“I couldn’t be more proud of a group of kids,” Caudill added. “We’re going to miss the senior leadership on this team next year. They set the tone in practice and during the game.”
GALAX UP NEXT
The Maroon Tide (12-1) romped to a 52-6 victory over George Wythe on Saturday.
Palmer knows Galax will bring a different animal, but this Rebels team — which has amassed more wins in a season than any previous one in school history — will be ready to play come next week.
“That will be our biggest challenge to date,” Palmer said. “I know Coach Dixon well up at Galax and they have some big linemen. They have some great athletes. At this point, that’s why we’re here. We’re going to give it our best shot on this field next week.”