Like the Seminole District, the Dogwood District released its schedules this week for the 2021 abbreviated football season.
While the Seminole will play regular-season games for six straight weeks beginning Friday, Feb. 26, the Dogwood plans to do things a little different. It has built into its schedules the possibility of a bye week by giving teams the opportunity to start the season Monday, Feb. 22, and play again on Saturday morning, Feb. 27.
Like the Seminole, all Dogwood games will be played against in-district opponents.
Here are six games to watch in the district that houses local Virginia High School League Class 1 and 2 schools.
Gretna at William Campbell, Feb. 22
The season starts off with a bang for these long-standing rivals, who have faced off almost every year since 1969 but have never met on opening night. The stakes are high this season. Both programs need a strong start, so playing a rivalry game right out the gate should provide plenty of fireworks. The Hawks have won two straight in the series and are coming off back-to-back nine-win seasons. The Generals won five games last year but were shorthanded by the time they reached the Class 1 playoffs.
Altavista at Nelson, Feb. 22
Few people probably would've predicted a Nelson County victory when the Governors traveled to Altavista last fall. They were coming off a two-year hiatus from the Dogwood during which they played an independent schedule in hopes of rescuing a program in disrepair for more than a decade. But NCHS put together a rousing effort for a 58-42 win. Now Altavista will want revenge. We'll get a good look in this opener at the rebuilding Colonels — where talented athletes always seem to be in abundance — and at Nelson, which tries to prove last season's successes were no fluke.
Gretna at Appomattox, March 5
This will serve as the home opener for the Class 2 state champs, who will enter play at Bragg Stadium after opening at Altavista. The winners of four of the last five Class 2 state titles have managed to thwart the suddenly stellar Hawks the last few years, including bouncing a promising Gretna team from the playoffs in 2019. The Raiders are doing some rebuilding of their own in the offseason, replacing numerous pieces key to last year's championship. Circle this one, because it might be the best thing the Dogwood has to offer in 2021.
Chatham at William Campbell, March 5
The Generals return a lot of firepower in 2021, including quarterback Jermiah Smith and 6-foot-3 defensive end Zekeya Townes. Last year, Campbell took a 36-35 loss on the chin at Chatham. Expect senior leadership to pull the Generals through this time and help them win their fifth game in six tries against the Cavaliers.
Appomattox at Dan River, March 12
After facing Gretna, the Raiders head down to Ringgold, where they'll try to win their sixth straight game over the Wildcats. Yes, Appomattox has dominated this series the last few years. But not too long ago this game wasn't to be missed, and it will be that way again in the future. Watch for Raiders quarterback Tre Lawing, a senior who has the ability to make all the difference for his squad.
William Campbell at Altavista, April 2
The regular-season finale could decide playoff seedings in for both Class 1, Region B schools. And it's one the Generals will definitely be eying throughout the spring. That's because one week after William Campbell defeated Altavista on the last night of the 2019 regular season, the two faced off again in the first round of the playoffs. This time, Altavista knocked off its Campbell County rival for the first time since 2016. The last three years have produced more losses than wins for the Colonels, but they're no pushover, rest assured. Here's an interesting stat: Since 2009, Altavista has gone to at least the second round of the playoffs every year and, of course, won three state titles in that span.
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