Pioneer Days

The long standing Pioneer District underwent a bit of a makeover last year with James River moving out while Narrows and Eastern Montgomery moved in.  All Narrows did in its first year is when the District Title and advance all the way to the Regional Finals where they lost to Galax.

Can the Green Wave repeat, or is this the year Covington’s Chris Jones works his coaching magic to claim the championship.  Outside of those two teams, there probably isn’t another serious contender in the Pioneer and victory for Craig County is just finding a way to win a game.

Bath County Chargers:  (Class 1; Region 1C)


2017 Record:  2 – 8 overall; 1 – 4 Pioneer District

Head Coach:  Larry Grubbs, 3rd year overall; 3rd year at school (Career Record: 4 – 16) (Record at School: 4 – 16)

2017 Points Scored:    148 (14.8 average per game)

2017 Points Allowed: 337 (33.7 average per game)

One of the smallest football playing High Schools in Virginia with just about 200 students in a county that doesn’t have a single stop light.  Yet, despite its very small size, Bath County has two State Championships in 1995 and 2001.

Overview:  Will be challenged with a small number of bodies again.  After winning the State title in 2001, Bath County was eliminated in the State Semi-Finals in 2002 in a loss to Appalachia and was then shutout in the 2003 State Championship game by Sussex Central.  But the Bath County program is just 66 – 90 since 2004 and is on a run of 7 straight losing seasons.

Fun Fact:  Bath County hasn’t won a playoff game since 2011.  Bath County is 7 – 33 over the past 4 seasons.

2018 Schedule:

August 24-      at Nelson County

August 31-      vs. Riverheads

September 8-   vs. Grace Christian (Sat)

September 14- vs. Pendleton Co, WV

September 21- Open date

September 28- at Pocahontas, WV

October 5 –      vs. Eastern Montgomery

October 12-     vs. Craig County

October 19-     vs. Parry McCluer

October 26-     vs. Narrows

November 2-   vs. Covington


Covington Cougars (Class 1; Region 1C)


2017 Record:  8 – 4 overall; 4 – 1 Pioneer District


Head Coach:  Chris Jones; 18th season overall; 3rd year at School (Career 129 – 65) (Record at School: 14 – 9)

2017 Points Scored:    403 (33.6 average per game)

2017 Points Allowed: 253 (21.1 average per game)

Jones will coach his 200th career game in Week 6 of this season.  His career has essentially come full circle having advanced from Bath County to Heritage to Franklin County, back to the Pioneer District

Overview:  Lost their best player in K.J. Moore, but still return several skill position players so figure them to be right in the mix in the Pioneer District, and in the playoffs.  Covington has been in the playoffs 7 of the last 8 seasons and are 8-8 in those 16 playoff games.  Jones is one of the rare commodities in High School Football serving as both an administrator (assistant principal) and a head football coach.  Started the season 0 -2 and then won 8 of their last 10 games, with their only losses to Narrows in the Regular Season and then in the playoffs.

Fun Fact:   In 17 seasons as a Head Coach, Jones has just 4 losing seasons, three of those were at Franklin County.

2018 Schedule:

August 24 –     at Alleghany

August 31-      at Glenvar

September 7-   vs. Greenbrier West

September 14- vs. James River

September 21- Open date

September 28- vs. Nelson County

October 5-       vs. Narrows

October 12-     vs. Parry McCluer

October 19-     vs. Eastern Montgomery

October 26-     at Craig County

November 2-   at Bath County


Craig County Rockets (Class 1; Region 1C)                

 2017 Record:  0 – 10 overall; 0 – 5 Pioneer District

Head Coach:  Mark Harrison; 2nd year Overall; 2nd year at Craig County (Career Record: 0 – 0) (Record at School 0 – 0)

2017 Points Scored:    130 (13.0 average per game)

2017 Points Allowed: 328 (32.8 average per game)

The ultimate reason that the VHSL needs to go to an 8-man football division and quick.  Craig County does not have the numbers, the athletes, or anything to compete anymore.  The most successful coach in school history, Mark McPherson, coached at Craig County for 10 seasons going 31 – 72 and the only two playoff appearances in school history.  Since he quit after the 2014 season, Chris Marshall coached for two seasons, Josh Burgess for one, and now Harrison.

Overview:  The Rockets only had 20 players on last year’s roster and lost only 4 seniors.  The school doesn’t have a Junior Varsity program, and thus no feeder system in a rural county.  Craig County is just 5 – 45 in the last 5 seasons.  They’ve also had 5 winless seasons since 2000 including two in a row.  The only teams the Rockets have beaten in the last 5 seasons include Eastern Montgomery, Bland County, Grace Christian, Montcalm, WV and Bath County. Craig County hasn’t won a game since September 11, 2015.

Fun Fact:  Future West Virginia quarterback Chad Johnston played his sophomore season at Craig County when his father Gordon was the head coach.  Johnston played only one year and returned home to Peterstown, WV where as a Senior he led the school to its only West Virginia Class A Championship.

2018 Schedule:

August 24 –     vs. Bland County

August 31-      at Auburn

September 7-   vs. Nelson County

September 14- vs. Montcalm, WV.

September 21- at Twin Valley

September 28- Open date

October 5-       at Parry McCluer

October 12-     at Bath County

October 19-     at Narrows

October 26-     vs. Covington

November 2-   at Eastern Montgomery


Eastern Montgomery Mustangs (Class 1; Region 1C)

 2017 Record:  3 – 7 overall; 2 – 3 Pioneer District

Head Coach:   Jordan Stewart; 5th season overall; 5th season at school.  (Career Record: 7 – 33) (Record at School 7 – 33)

2017 Points Scored:    171 (17.1 average per game)

2017 Points Allowed: 265 (26.5 average per game)

Moved out of the Three Rivers to the Pioneer and it made little difference.  They are always going to be better than Bath County and Craig County, but getting out of the bottom of the Pioneer is always going to be a challenge.

Overview:  Started 2017 0 – 4, won 2 straight and then lost three of their last 4 games.  Week 10 of this season will be the 200th game in the history of the school since it moved into a new building and changed from Shawsville High School to Eastern Montgomery

Fun Fact:  Since their once in a lifetime season of 13-1 in 2010, the Mustangs are just 15 – 56 and have won no more than 4 games in any one season.

2018 Schedule:

August 24 –     vs. Holston

August 31-      vs. Hurley

September 7-   at Roanoke Catholic

September 14- vs. Auburn

September 21- at Bland County

September 28- Open date

October 5 –      at Bath County

October 12-     vs. Narrows

October 19-     at Covington

October 26-     at Parry McCluer

November 2-   vs. Craig County


Parry McCluer Fighting Blues (Class 1; Region 1C)

 2017 Record:  4 – 6 overall; 3 – 2 Pioneer District

Head Coach:  Mark Wheeler – 2nd year overall; 2nd year at school.  (Career Record: 4 – 6) (Record at School 4 – 6)

2017 Points Scored:    262 (26.2 average per game)

2017 Points Allowed: 235 (23.5 average per game)

The Blues 2017 season was frankly doomed from the start when Head Coach Mike Craft quit in July just weeks before practice began to take the principal’s job at Rockbridge County High School.  Wheeler was hired at the last minute and managed to cobble together 4 wins.

Overview:  Last year’s 4-6 season ended a run of 5 straight winning seasons.  Prior to the run of 5 straight winning seasons, Parry McCluer had just one winning season from 1999 – 2011.  Started 2017 1-4 and then won 3 of their last five games.  Fighting Blues are 49 -22 over the last 6 seasons.

Fun Fact:  Wheeler was a member of Parry McCluer’s 1983 State Championship team, which began a run of 3 State Championships in 5 years (1983, 1986 and 1987)

2018 Schedule:

August 24 – at Rockbridge County

August 31 – vs. Buffalo Gap

September 7- vs. James River

September 14- Open date

September 21 – at Nelson County

September 28- at William Campbell

October 5 –     vs. Craig County

October 12-     at Covington

October 19-     at Bath County

October 26-     vs. Eastern Montgomery

November 2-   vs. Narrows


Narrows Green Wave (Class 1; Region 1C)

 2017 Record:  11 – 2 overall; 5 – 0 Pioneer District

Head Coach:  Kelly Lowe – 15th season overall; 15th Season at Narrows (Career Record: 60 – 89) (Record at School:  60 -89)

2017 Points Scored:    483 (37.2 average per game)

2017 Points Allowed: 145 (11.2 average per game)

Essentially a once in about a 20 year season for Narrows last season winning 11 games for the second time in school history losing only to Giles in the regular season and to Narrows in the Region 1C Finals.

Overview:  Lowe replaced his father who coached at Narrows for 27 seasons and to Lowe’s credit he has persevered through some very difficult seasons including an 0- 10 in 2011.   Narrows has largely been unable to handle county rival Giles in years in which they have talent.  This year, Narrows lost some talent but has enough returning to compete in the Pioneer District, if not make it two for two in the Pioneer.  Key game is October 5th at Covington.  Schedule is pretty light up front so 3 – 0 heading into the home game with Giles on September 14 is certainly not out of the question.  Narrows has two straight winning seasons after 7 straight losing seasons.

Fun Fact:  Did you know that the town of Narrows got its name because it sits right where the New River “narrows” as it winds his way through the mountains.

2018 Schedule:

August 24-      at Auburn

August 31-      at Bland County

September 7-   vs. Montcalm, WV.

September 14- vs. Giles

September 21- Open date

September 28- vs. Holston

October 5-       at Covington

October 12-     at Eastern Montgomery

October 19-     vs. Craig County

October 26-     at Bath County

November 2-   at Parry McCluer


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