The countdown to Virginia High School’s 2022 football season has officially begun.
On Wednesday, the Virginia High School League released its master plan for the upcoming season. The regular season begins the last weekend of August and lasts through the first week of November.
The master plan contains many intriguing matchups and storylines for Central Virginia’s high school football programs. Here are seven takeaways from the schedule release.
Thursday night lights
While most high school soccer teams in central Virginia begin their season on Friday, August 26, Albemarle will begin its 2022 season with a Thursday night in the Shenandoah Valley. The Patriots will take on Harrisonburg in their season opener over the hill on August 25 at 7:00 p.m
Albemarle and Harrisonburg also opened the 2021 fall season against each other, with the Patriots earning a 21-7 win over the Blue Streaks in Charlottesville. Thursday night’s matchup gives Albemarle an extra day to prepare for his Week 2 road trip to William Fleming in Roanoke.
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Neighboring county rivals William Monroe and Madison County will face off in Madison on September 16. The matchup comes a little less than a year after the Mountaineers defeated the Greene Dragons 26-24 last season in Stanardsville.
After that game, multiple videos from a celebratory Madison County locker room posted to social media resulted in the Mountaineers losing their game to Page County the following week due to “unsportsmanlike conduct” within the program.
After the William Monroe incident, Madison County principal Betty-Jo Wynham told The Daily Progress she had spoken to William Monroe principal Katie Brunelle and was considering pausing future sporting encounters between the schools.
“I would say we looked at it,” Wyndham said at the time. “We just threw it around because we need to ensure safety, not just physical safety but mental and emotional safety. When we get to a point where we can’t handle it anymore, I think we have to think about our why and the point of it all.”
The two schools did not compete during the 2021-22 winter and spring sports season.
For the second year in a row, Jefferson District rivals Western Albemarle and Charlottesville will start the season against each other. The Warriors and Black Knights meet at Theodose Stadium on August 26 at 7 p.m.
Western rode to a 40-14 win in last season’s matchup. Charlottesville, who won their final two games of the 2021 season, are hoping to carry that momentum into the 2022 season.
JD title race
Last season, Albemarle, Louisa County and Western Albemarle each ended in a Jefferson District game loss and shared the District title.
All three teams are hoping for a repeat as district champions, and their encounters against each other will go a long way toward determining whether they share the crown again or if one team emerges as the sole district champion in 2022.
Here are the scheduled matchups between the three teams this season: Albemarle at Western Albemarle, Oct. 7, 7 p.m.; Western Albemarle in Louisa County, Oct. 14, 7:30 p.m.; Albemarle in Louisa County, Oct. 28, 7:30 p.m
Jack Baker’s first game as Nelson County football coach will be played on August 26 at 7:00 p.m. against Randolph-Henry
After the first week’s road trip, Baker and the governors will enjoy three straight home games (Page County on Sept. 2, Prince Edward on Sept. 9 and Cumberland on Sept. 16) before heading into their bye week on Sept. 23 .
“We truly believe Coach Baker will help our kids thrive and make Nelson County fall Friday nights exciting for the entire community,” said Nelson County athletic director Greg Mullins when Baker was hired. “We look forward to the student-athletes, the school and the community.”
Bye, bye, bye
September 23 will be one of the quieter Friday nights on Central Virginia’s football calendar this fall. Five local teams (Albemarle, Orange County, Fluvanna County, Monticello and Nelson County) have byes this week.
While those teams have the night off, there are still some solid matchups on the September 23 public school roster, including Charlottesville’s Louisa County, Western Albemarle’s Goochland, Manassas Park’s William Monroe, and Madison County’s Page County.
Madison County will bow out in the first week of the season, meaning the Mountaineers will have to play 10 straight games without a week’s rest.
This long stretch of games begins and ends with road trips into the Shenandoah Valley. After a free opening week, Madison will open the season on September 2nd at 7pm at Central (Woodstock). The Mountaineers will wrap up the regular season on November 4 at 7 p.m. in Luray