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HIGH SCHOOL NOTEBOOK: Despite bye, Panthers still hobbled

After Massaponax escaped with a 23–17 overtime football victory over North Stafford Oct. 25, Panthers coach Eric Ludden said he was eagerly anticipating the upcoming bye week.

Massaponax (9–0) has been a banged-up bunch, and Ludden was hoping the Panthers could heal.

Ludden said the bye was productive, but two key players could be missing for the regular-season finale Friday at Brooke Point.

Standout two-way lineman Vinny Mihota will miss his eighth straight game with a broken bone in his left foot. Mihota was originally slated to sit out 2–4 weeks after he was injured Sept. 6 in a win over Albemarle.

Ludden is also unsure if Mihota will be ready for the first round of the 5A–North Regional playoffs next week. Mihota, who has committed to Virginia Tech, is still wearing a boot.

“It’s not healing as fast as we thought,” Ludden said. “I’m not guaranteeing another week will do it. I just don’t know what to think now.”

Ludden said senior fullback Javonte Latney’s status is uncertain for the Brooke Point game after he experienced knee soreness against North Stafford. Latney, who sat out most of the second half against North Stafford before returning in the final minute and overtime, has played all season with a torn meniscus he suffered during the preseason.

Ludden said he believes Latney will be ready for the playoffs.

HAWK HEADING SOUTH

Brooke Point senior volleyball standout Jasmine Jones has orally committed to the University of North Carolina–Greensboro, and is expected to sign a national letter of intent next week.

“She was being heavily recruited during her club season by a lot of schools,” Black–Hawks head coach Terri Starliper said. “But I know [the Spartans] were one of her favorites from the beginning.”

Jones, a middle hitter, was a first-team All-Area selection in 2012. She was also first-team all-Commonwealth District and second-team all-Northwest Region. This season, Starliper said she’s shattered the single-season school record for kills with 225 and counting.

“I think the most important thing is she’s really just a gamer,” Starliper said of what makes Jones a dynamic player. “She’s all in. She plays hard the entire time, and skill-wise, she’s just grown.”

BYRD ON TRACK

Riverbend senior quarterback Eric Byrd is expected to return for the Bears’ regular-season finale Friday at home against Colonial Forge.

Byrd missed last Friday’s 42–14 loss to Mountain View with a concussion. Bears head coach Tony DeMarco said Byrd has gone through a series of concussion tests this week, which included riding a stationary bike and jogging. On Wednesday, he was set for light contact at practice.

“He should be all right for Friday,” DeMarco said.

The Bears (5–4) can clinch a berth in the Group 6A South Regional playoffs with a win and some help. DeMarco said it’s important to Byrd that he play in what could be the final game of his career.

“It’s huge. It is senior night, and we’ve got a shot at the playoffs still,” DeMarco said. “Everything’s riding on it.”

DANIEL ON DISPLAY

Colonial Forge senior quarterback Damen Daniel will play more outside linebacker the rest of the season as he attempts to showcase himself to college coaches.

Daniel has been a standout dual-threat quarterback this season, but the Eagles also rotate Gary Jennings in at the position and Malik Shabazz is a capable third signal-caller.

“Damen’s got a lot more interest [from college recruiters] on defense,” Eagles coach Bill Brown said. “We’re looking to get him exposed defensively, which is where he has his best chance of getting to the next level.”

Daniel (6-foot-2, 220 pounds) has rotated in at outside linebacker since the third game of the season, but his snaps increased in a win over Stafford last Friday. Brown said that trend will continue against Riverbend and into the playoffs.

“He’s very talented out there,” Brown said. “He’s big. He’s athletic. He’s a physical kid. He brings a presence there that really helps us.”

Taft Coghill Jr.: 540/374-5526

tcoghill@freelancestar.com

 

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