Of all the leagues in the Roanoke-Lynchburg area, none can claim the state wide success of the Seminole District. Every team in the District has won at least one State Championship, and some like Amherst County Brookville and Rustburg have won multiple championships.
Liberty Christian counts in that as well, although the Bulldogs State Championships were at the private school level. LCA is still the only private school affiliated with the VHSL after they sued the VHSL in Federal Court (in a very Jerry Falwell type of move) to gain admission. The two parties worked a settlement which allowed LCA to join the VHSL and the Seminole District, but restricted the school to athletes in the same geographic footprint as E.C. Glass and Heritage.
If you know anything about private schools – and especially those affiliated with churches – they love to recruit. Well, they can recruit but only in Lynchburg and so they’ve found the sledding more difficult in the public school ranks that the Virginia Independent’s Conference.
The 8-team league remains one of the toughest to navigate, and that’s why come November you can expect one or even more Seminole teams to be right in the hunt for a State Championship.
Amherst County Lancers: (Class 4; Region 4D)
2017 Record: 6 – 5 overall; 5 – 2 Seminole District
Head Coach: Trevor Porter – 1st year at Amherst County. (Record at School: 0 – 0)
2017 Points Scored: 382 (34.7 average per game)
2017 Points Allowed: 392 (35.6 average per game)
Coach Cecil Phillips left earlier this year to take an offensive coordinator job at a high school in Georgia. I can only assume that has something to do with money, although Phillips had previously coached in Georgia for Jefferson Forest coach Bob Christmas. It may also be that he felt his time at Amherst County was up. The expectations are always extremely high and Phillips – after going to the State Championship game in 2008 and 2009 – failed to meet the bar set by previous coaches. He left Amherst with a 77 – 43 record in 10 seasons, but suffered through back to back three win seasons in 2013 and 2014.
Overview: Porter comes from an offensive coordinator job at Mundy’s Hill High School in Georgia and has never coached in Virginia having spent his career in the deep South in Georgia, Florida and Louisiana. He’ll get a honeymoon period as he switches Amherst’s offense from Phillips power game to his spread offense, and Amherst graduated 20 seniors, but it won’t be a long honeymoon and Amherst fans are going to expect to see competitiveness on opening night at Salem. Amherst faces a brutal four game opening run against Salem, George Washington, Blacksburg and Brookville.
Fun Fact: Amherst now has a Division 1 College Football Head Coach among its former Head Coaches, as Scott Abel who won back to back championships in 2006 and 2007 while going 25 – 3 is now the head coach at Division I (FCS) Davidson College, a non-scholarship program in the Pioneer Football League
August 24- at Salem
August 31- at George Washington
September 7- vs. Blacksburg
September 14- Open date
September 21- at Brookville
September 28- vs. Rustburg
October 5- at Jefferson Forest
October 12- vs. Liberty
October 19- at Liberty Christian
October 26- vs. Heritage
November 2 – vs. E.C. Glass
E.C. Glass Hilltoppers: (Class 4; Region 4D)
2017 Record: 8 – 4 overall; 4 – 3 Seminole District
Head Coach: Jeff Woody – 14th season as a Head Coach; 3rd year at E.C. Glass (Career Record: 114 – 35) (Record at E.C. Glass 14 – 8)
2017 Points Scored: 386 (32.2 average per game)
2017 Points Allowed: 237 (19.75 average per game)
Jeff Woody leaving Brookville was a bit of a mystery and then coming back to Lynchburg to be the coach at E.C. Glass was an even bigger mystery. But, perhaps he is just what E.C. Glass needs. In the 1980s and most of the 1990s, Glass was – along with Salem and Pulaski County – one of the top 3 programs in the Roanoke-Lynchburg area. But, when Bo Henson was forced out after the 1997 season, and then conducted an awkward press conference in which he stated among other things that the principal asked him why there weren’t more white players, more whites in the stands and why football players were fathering babies, Glass tanked and from 2005 – 2015 was just 30 – 73.
Overview: Woody clearly knows what he’s doing, but this program still has to step up a notch to match his former school in Brookville, and Heritage. Talent will always be around in Lynchburg, but the question is always whether Woody can focus that in the right direction. Glass started 2017 7 – 1 and then lost three of their last four games. They did however hand Heritage it’s only regular season loss.
Fun fact: This is the 30th anniversary of Henson’s only State Title team in 1988. Henson finished his career with 8 Western District Titles, 6 Northwestern Region titles, and the 1988 state championship where his star player was future NFL Offensive Lineman Ruben Brown.
August 24- at Charlottesville
August 31- vs. Halifax County
September 7- vs. Franklin County
September 14- Open date
September 21- at Heritage
September 28- vs. Brookville
October 5- at Rustburg
October 12- vs. Jefferson Forest
October 19- at Liberty
October 26 – vs. Liberty Christian
November 2- at Amherst County
Jefferson Forest Cavaliers (Class 4; Region 4D)
2017 Record: 5 – 6 overall; 4 – 3 Seminole District
Head Coach: Bob Christmas – has 278 career wins in a career that spans two schools in Georgia (Bainbridge and North Hall), Lynchburg Christian and Jefferson Forest in Virginia. 5th year on second stint at Jefferson Forest with record of 31 – 16.
2017 Points Scored: 407 (37 average per game)
2017 Points Allowed: 422 (38.3 average per game)
The Wishbone offense lives in Forest. There’s never been anything fancy about the way Jefferson Forest plays football and that will not change.
Overview: Jefferson Forest went 28 – 2 in Christmas’ first two years back on the job in Forest in 2014 and 2015 losing in the Regional finals both times. They dipped to 2 – 8 in 2016 when they were decimated by losses but rebounded to a .500 regular season last year. Christmas is too good of a coach to not keep JF pointing upward, and for some reason – maybe it’s because teams don’t see it much anymore – opponents have a tough time defending the Wishbone offense. Seven times last year, Forest scored at least 30 points. You’ll know early about this team as they play Staunton River, Magna Vista and George Washington in their first three games.
Fun Fact: Before returning to Jefferson Forest in 2014, Christmas spent 13 years as the Head Coach at North Hall High School in Gainesville, Georgia, which is just Northeast of Atlanta, and is known as the poultry capital of the world due to the large number of poultry processing plants in the area. Christmas went 106 – 46 at North Hall with two appearances in Georgia’s Class AAAA semi-finals.
August 24- vs. Staunton River
August 31- at Magna Vista
September 7- vs. George Washington
September 14- Open date
September 21- vs. Liberty
September 28- at Liberty Christian
October 5- vs. Amherst County
October 12- at E.C. Glass
October 19- vs. Brookville
October 26- at Rustburg
November 2- at Heritage
Liberty Christian Bulldogs (Class 4; Region 4D)
2017 Record: 4 – 6 overall; 3 – 4 Seminole District
Head Coach: Frank Rocco – 12th Season overall; 12th season at School (Career Record 113 – 13) (Record at School: 113 – 13)
2017 Points Scored: 352 (35.2 average per game)
2017 Points Allowed: 361 (36.1 average per game)
VHSL’s only private school. LCA sued the VHSL to gain admission and the two sides worked a settlement which allowed LCA to join but restricted them to athletes within the same footprint as E.C. Glass and Heritage, so the transition from VIS to VHSL has not been easy with back-to-back 4 – 6 seasons.
Overview: It’s back to the future for LCA. After the 2017 Chris Rocco – who succeeded his father Frank as head coach – resigned. Frank Rocco – the school’s Athletic Director – made himself the head coach again. During his first 11 season tenure, Rocco won 113 games, but will likely find the public school division more difficult. Rocco won 5 VIS state titles in 6 seasons but a positive start to his second tenure would be avoiding a losing season. LCA has lightened the schedule jettisoning WV Class AAA powerhouse Martinsburg which beat LCA in route to its 6th Class AAA State Title last season with Central Virginia Home School, a game which will not count in the playoff power ratings.
Fun Fact: Frank Rocco – the brother of Delaware Head Coach Danny Rocco – was a Graduate Assistant on Penn State’s 1982 National Championship team quarterbacked by now ESPN Football Analyst Todd Blackledge.
August 24- at George Washington
August 31 – vs. Central Va. Home Sch.
September 7- Open date
September 14- at Brunswick
September 21- at Rustburg
September 28- vs. Jefferson Forest
October 5- at Liberty
October 12- vs. Heritage
October 19- vs. Amherst County
October 26- at E.C. Glass
November 2- vs. Brookville
Brookville Bees (Class 3; Region 3C)
2017 Record: 10 – 3 Overall; 5 – 2 Seminole District
Head Coach: Jon Meeks – 8th season overall; 5th season at Brookville (Career Record: 49 – 31) (Record at School: 35 – 14)
2017 Points Scored: 425 (32.6 average per game)
2017 Points Allowed: 343 (26.3 avearage per game)
Typically, one of the Roanoke-Lynchburg area’s most consistently successful programs. Brookville won back-to-back state titles in 2011 and 2012 going 28 -0. Brookville struggled under an interim coach in 2013 going 5 – 6, but since Meeks got his second chance at being head coach Brookville has won 8, 8, 9 and 10 games in the last 4 seasons.
Overview: Started the year 4- 2 with losses to Amherst County and Heritage, then rolled off 6 in a row before just getting blasted by Heritage in the Regional Finals 62 – 20. As former coach Ed Martin used to say, “A lot of people think this is the year to get Brookville…there’s never a year to get Brookville.” The Bees figure to be in the hunt for the Seminole title again and if you win that you are going to get a high seed in the Regional playoffs. Brookville is seeking it’s 14th straight playoff appearance. Meeks was a player on the 1997 Heritage team that lost in the Group AA; Division 4 State Title game.
Fun Fact: This is the 30th anniversary of the most unlikely Brookville regional championship in 1988. In 1988 Salem dropped from AAA to AA and most figured that the Spartans would just walk to the Regional Title. It didn’t happen as Brookville under then coach Kenny Alderman beat Salem in the Regional Finals and advanced all the way to the State Title game before losing to Park View-Sterling 51 – 7.
August 24- Open date
August 31- at Patrick Henry
September 7- vs. Waynesboro
September 14- vs. Harrisonburg
September 21- vs. Amherst County
September 28- at E.C. Glass
October 5- at Heritage
October 12- vs. Rustburg
October 19- at Jefferson Forest
October 26- vs. Liberty
November 2- at Liberty Christian
Heritage Pioneers (Class 3; Region 3C)
2017 Record: 13 – 2 Overall; 6 -1 Seminole District
Head Coach: Brad Bradley – 19th Season Overall; 7th Season at Heritage (Career Record: 173 – 65) (Record at School: 58 – 20)
2017 Points Scored: 684 (45.6 average per game)
2017 Points Allowed: 253 (16.9 average per game)
The Little General made another State Championship Game a year ago, his second one at Heritage and fourth overall. So far, this offseason he’s taken his players to several passing camps and had them working out with the Lynchburg Fire Department.
Overview: Scoring machine La La Davis is gone to Old Dominion, but the quarterback returns and there’s enough talent there to make another run at the post-season. Heritage may not score as many points. Bradley is 2-2 in State Title games with two state championships at William Campbell. In 18 years as a Head Coach, Bradley has just three losing seasons, one in West Virginia, one at Patrick Henry and one at Heritage, a 4 – 7 in 2015.
Fun Fact: The last three Heritage coaches have all won state championships at lower levels. Chris Jones at Bath County, Doug Smith at Appomattox, and Bradley at William Campbell. Jones is the only one to win a championship also at Heritage.
August 24- vs. William Fleming
August 31 – at Norrthside
September 7- at Appomattox
September 14- Open date
September 21- vs. E. C. Glass
September 28- at Liberty
October 5- vs. Brookville
October 12- at Liberty Christian
October 19 – vs. Rustburg
October 26- at Amherst County
November 2- vs. Jefferson Forest
Liberty Minutemen (Class 3; Region 3C)
2017 Record: 2 – 9 Overall; 0 – 7 Seminole District
Head Coach: Chris Watts – 17th season Overall; 17th Season at Liberty (Career Record: 110 – 74) (Record at School 110 -74)
2017 Points Scored: 176 (16.0 average per game)
2017 Points Allowed: 425 (38.6 average per game)
There probably isn’t a coach more associated with one school in the Roanoke-Lynchburg area than Watts is at Liberty. A graduate of Marshall University, he begins his 17th season as the Head Coach after previously serving as an assistant at the school. He’s also not afraid to speak his mind which is refreshing. Last year when his team made into the post-season at 2 – 8 when the VHSL recalculated the playoff points on Sunday, he was quick to point out that his team didn’t belong there and that the VHSL’s playoff system is completely broken when it allows 2 – 8 teams to participate in the post-season. He couldn’t be more correct. Among the former Liberty coaches are State Champion winning coach Mike Scharnus who won titles at Rustburg and Altavista, and one of my all-time favorite people “The Professor” John Walker who went from Liberty to a successful run at Heritage and is now a college professor at Lynchburg College.
Overview: Liberty started the year at 2 – 0 and finished by losing 9 straight games. They had a small roster last year and the results showed on the field. Liberty has had back-to-back 2 – 8 regular seasons and three straight losing seasons overall including 4 – 7 in 2015. Reversing the downward trend might not be so easy in the District they play in but Watts suddenly hasn’t forgotten how to coach. He’s like every other high school coach (except maybe Salem) where you don’t recruit them, you coach what momma sends you. Watts’ first four seasons from 2002 – 2004, they were the best team in the Seminole going 41 – 9 with a State Championship in his first year in 2002.
Fun Fact: Liberty had one playoff appearance in its first 36 years as a school. Since 2000, they’ve been in the post season 15 of the last 18 seasons. From 2000 – 2005, Liberty was 61 – 14. Since 2006 they are just 69 – 65.
August 24- at Franklin County
August 31- Open date
September 7- at Christiansburg
September 14- vs. Staunton River
September 21- at Jefferson Forest
September 28- vs. Heritage
October 5- vs. Liberty Christian
October 12- at Amherst County
October 19- vs. E.C. Glass
October 26- at Brookville
November 2- vs. Rustburg
Rustburg Red Devils (Class 3; Region 3C)
2017 Record: 3- 8 Overall; 1 – 6 Seminole District
Head Coach: Jack Baker – 16th season overall; 7th season at Rustburg (Career Record: 71- 89) (Record at Rustburg: 33 – 33)
2017 Points Scored: 157 (14.3 average per game)
2017 Points Allowed: 361 (32.8 average per game)
Baker came to Rustburg from Alleghany. Rustburg won 10 games for the first time in 17 years in 2016 by going 10 – 3 and losing in the Regional Finals. Last year, the Red Devils slipped back to 3 – 8 and won just one district game with a season ending win over Liberty. Rustburg started 2 – 1 and finished 1 – 7.
Overview: Rustburg was a powerhouse in the 1980s and 1990s, playing for the Group AA; Division 3 Championship in 1987, which they lost to James Monroe 10 – 8. The school won state championships under Paul Wheeler and Mike Scharnus. Scharnus would win two more at Altavista, but resigned that job in January and is now an assistant on Baker’s staff at Rustburg. Rustburg is like many of the rural schools in the area, sometimes they are going to win 7 games and sometimes they are going to win three. That’s just reality for some of the schools in the smaller communities.
Fun Fact: Since going 12 – 2 and winning the State Championship in 2000, the Red Devils are just 70 – 110 since with one 10 win season (2016), Four three win seasons (2002, 2004, 2008, and 2014), three 2 win seasons including last year, and 1 – 9 in 2007 and 2009.
August 24- at Bassett
August 31- vs. Appomattox
September 7- Open date
September 14- vs. Altavista
September 21- vs. Liberty Christian
September 28- at Amherst County
October 5- vs. E.C. Glass
October 12- at Brookville
October 19- at Heritage
October 26- vs. Jefferson Forest
November 2- at Liberty