Apr. 16—NARROWS, Va. — Last Friday, the Narrows High School football team’s streak of consecutive shutouts came to a halt against Pioneer District rival Parry McCluer. The Green Wave unbeaten streak carried on with a 28-8 victory over the Fighting Blues.
The latter trend is the one Narrows is most focused with keeping intact from this point forward.
The Green Wave (7-0) will face one of the program’s oldest historical rivals when they travel to Galax (7-0) for Friday night’s Region 1C championship game.
“We’ve had two good days of practice this week, so far. The kids are excited to be in the situation we’re in. The kids are really looking forward to it,” said Narrows head football coach Kelly Lowe, who wasn’t surprised that Parry McCluer tangled with the Green Wave early on in last weeks.
“We had a pretty tough test last week. Parry McCluer came in and really challenged us. It was something we definitely needed. Our kids handled a little bit of adversity well … our kids responded,” he said.
This will be the 83rd meeting between the two teams, with Narrows clinging to a 40-37-4 advantage in the series. In recent years, Galax has been chipping away at that lead. Narrows has not beaten the Maroon Tide since a 27-8 victory over Galax at Harry Ragsdale Field in 2008. The last meeting was a 55-0 blanking at Galax in the 2018 Region 1C regional title game.
Things have changed somewhat at Galax since then.
Head coach Mark Dixon, who led the Maroon Tide to a 7-6 state championship victory over Riverheads in 2015, left Galax for Pulaski County after the 2019 campaign. The program has since been taken over by former Dixon assistant Shane Allen, who was head football coach at Tazewell from 2012 to 2016.
Also an unbeaten, the only glitch in Galax’s matrix seems to have been George Wythe. The Maroon Tide struggled to beat Wytheville 7-0 in the regular season, but exploded on their Mountain Empire District rival 41-21 in last week’s playoff meeting.
“It’s my understanding George Wythe had a couple of injuries. But Galax … they’re the real deal. They’re very strong up front and have two very good running backs. The quarterback [Cole Pickett] is an exceptional athlete who can hurt you both throwing the ball and running the ball. They’re strong up front on both sides of the ball and this is going to be a good test for us,” said Lowe.
One of those running backs — senior Keaton Beeman — was a freshman when he rushed for 281 yards and four touchdowns in a 28-27 victory over the Green Wave in the 2017 Region 1C title game at Harry Ragsdale Field.
“Oh yeah. We’ve seen him before,” said Lowe.
The Green Wave hasn’t faced Galax under Allen before, but Narrows has a good idea of what to expect.
“In Coach Dixon’s first years there, he was very run-oriented. But since the Pickett kid’s been there, even coach Dixon started spreading the ball around more and throwing it more,” said Lowe.
“Coach Allen has pretty much picked up where that left off. I’d say they’re almost 50-50 run-pass. So that gives us a little more to worry about and contend with.”
Lowe has been pleased with the overall performance of Narrows’ offensive and defensive line all season, as well as his core of skill players, headed by quarterback Reid Bowman. One area that continues to improve is the defensive secondary, which is led by Derek Johnston’s four interceptions.
“Of course, Reid and Jake [Robertson] and Ty [Robertson] and Logan Green, have all been solid for us every game,” said Lowe.
“Aidan McGlothlin really stepped up for us. He came in and played real solid for us defensively. It seems like with every different week, somebody else is stepping up. That’s one thing I can say about this team. It’s not a one-man show … Each week somebody new steps up on offense or defense,” Lowe said.
“I like where we’re at and I like our preparation going into it. Our kids are going to be ready to play,” Lowe said.