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Pair of Eagles top WVD standings / October 15, 2009
The 2009 Western Valley district football race is under way, and GW-Danville and Franklin County have the early edge, with both teams 1-0. GW-Danville has a home date with Halifax County, which is 0-0 in the WVD after a 1-5 start to the season tomorrow night, at 7:30, in the River City.

HCHS has yet to beat the Eagles in the Stan Hodgin era, and the Comets generally struggle with GW, especially in Danville. GW is 4-3 overall, with three very tough losses, and 1-0 in the WVD after a 31-0 shutout of Patrick Henry.

DeVaughn Benion leads the Eagles’ rushing attack, and is coming off a career-high 198 yards on 11 carries. GW rushed for 430 yards against PH, and held the Pats to 21 yards on the ground.

GW has two juniors rotating at QB, including starter Kevin Shuler, and last year’s starter, Tim Moore. Shuler is a drop back passer, and is 17-for-51 passing for 309 yards and two touchdowns and four interceptions.

WVD STANDINGS: Franklin County is 1-0 in the district and 5-1 overall, followed by GW-Danville, 1-0, 4-3; HCHS 0-0, 1-5; William Fleming, 0-1, 4-2; and PH 0-1, 2-5.

HODGIN’S VIEWPOINT: Comet coach Stan Hodgin, assessing the start of the WVD, said there is some clarity after the first week.

“You have to say Franklin and GW are the two best teams in the district, based on district records,” said Hodgin. He added, “But I wouldn’t discount Fleming from being out of the race. I would be very surprised if the district champion goes through the schedule 4-0. I don’t think Fleming is out of it (despite an opening week loss to Franklin County) by any stretch.”

The district now features five head coaches, including three who have collected two state titles apiece. Chris Jones (Franklin Co.)Brad Bradley (PH) and Rob Senseney (William Fleming) have two state titles apiece.

In case you’re scoring at home, that’s six state crowns among that trio. GW’s Dan Newell has also had consistent playoff success, as the Eagles reached the Northwest regional finals a year ago.

GW and former district member E.C. Glass had tremendous success. Glass was a powerhouse under former coach Bo Henson, but the Hilltoppers have generally struggled since. GW, of course, has one of the most potent prep football traditions in the state.

Now, the WVD has some impressive resumes. Hodgin assessed Senseney, Bradley and Jones.

“I don’t know that that’s a reflection of the district as much as it is the commitment, not only as coaches, but the staffs that they’ve worked with in the past, the players they’ve been fortunate enough to coach. They’ve just been in the right place in the right time. They’re certainly outstanding coaches...

“I don’t think that makes Dan Newell a bad football coach because he hasn’t won a state championship yet,” said Hodgin.

GW LOOK: Hodgin noted, previewing the district opener with GW, “Offensively, they are explosive.

Hodgin, discussing the level of competition, noted, “Devaughn Benion is as fast, as elusive a running back as we have faced, or will face, this year.

“He is very dangerous,” said Hodgin.

Hodgin added GW is not a pass-orientated game, but added the Eagles are very diverse in the run attack.

“They run the inside trap awfully well, and certainly, with Devaughn’s speed they do a really good job of the perimeter run game. Offensively, they’re going to be quite a challenge for our defense.

“Defensively, they’re a typical GW team. They run to the ball awfully well. They’ve done a good job of tackling in the open field. Anybody that just looks at the standings or their won-loss record is not getting the true picture,” said Hodgin.

GW has played a brutal non-conference slate, losing to Amherst, no. 1 in Group AA; West Forysth, the no. 3 Four A in North Carolina; and Battlefield, which may well finish 10-0 and winning its district.

HCHS, nevertheless, should be a hungry tram ready to spring the upset.

“We are a very hungry, very eager team to get back out on the field, and compete. I think our mental focus, our attention has been every bit as good as it’s been all season. I fully expect our guys to compete to the fullest extent on Friday,” said Hodgin.

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