By Randy Arrington
LURAY, Sept. 30 — When high school football is discussed in the Shenandoah Valley, especially from a historical perspective, the Cougars of Stuarts Draft are often involved in the conversation. The perennial powerhouse touts region titles across several decades and in recent years, back-to-back appearances in the state championship where they fell short of a state title at the hands of Appomattox.
However, after an absolute beat down of the previously unbeaten Cougars on Friday night, everyone in the Shenandoah Valley is now talking about the Bulldogs of Luray.
By halftime Luray had racked up 344 yards of offense and held the Cougars to only one first down — complete dominance on both sides of the ball. The Bulldogs lead 35-0 at the half and scored on every first half possession (except a one-play drive just before time expired). They played flawless football with no penalties and no turnovers. While the all-time series between the two teams that spans five decades still leans toward Stuarts Draft (17-9), Friday night’s 49-0 rout of the Cougars puts Luray into a new conversation as not only an elite team in Region B, but a Class 2 state title contender.
With no time to rest, the Bulldogs will face their next big challenge next Friday night as they travel to Woodstock to take on the only other unbeaten team in the region — the Falcons of Central (6-0). Despite that game, and future dates with East Rock, Strasburg and Clarke — Luray has become one of the “teams to beat” in the area. Through five games, they have outscored their opponents 225 to 56.
The Bulldogs wasted no time against Draft as they took the opening drive 65 yards on six plays, capped off by a 16-yard touchdown run by freshman Cason Bryant. The next two drives ended with a bootleg sweep by junior quarterback Ryder Liscomb who scored on runs of 38 and 21 yards. Luray lead 21-0 by the end of the first quarter.
The home team would score twice more in the second quarter. Senior Kenny Frye finished a 12-play drive that covered 81 yards with a 20-yard dash to the end zone, while Bryant scored his second touchdown of the night on the next drive from 13 yards out. Luray extended its lead to 35-0 by the half.
Stuarts Draft would only pick up three more first downs in the second half, while Luray added two more scores. On their first possession of the third quarter, Luray needed only two plays to find the end zone as Frye picked up his second touchdown on a 64-yard run, driving the lead tp 42-0. Sophomore Drayvin Stevens capped off the scoring on Luray’s next possession with a 57-yard run in the fourth quarter.
Luray’s offense finished the night with 469 yards of offense after passing the ball only once — a 23-yard completion from Liscomb to senior Brady Jenkins in the first quarter. On the ground, Jenkins had 113 yards on 13 carries. Frye lead Luray’s ground game on Friday night with 155 yards on 11 carries and two touchdowns. Bryant finished with 59 yards on nine carries and two touchdowns. Stevens only had three touches, but racked up 62 yards and a touchdown.
While the Luray offense was phenomenal, the Bulldog defense was truly in shut down mode, only allowing 46 yards of offense and one first down in the first half against the previously undefeated Cougars. The second half saw Stuarts Draft pick up only three more first downs as Luray substituted freely. The Bulldogs would pick up all five of their penalties of the night in the second half, including a few false starts and an illegal substitution, as players shuffled in and out.
Stuart Draft sophomore Da’Shea Smith entered Friday night’s game with 638 yards on 106 carries and seven touchdowns through only four games (that’s an average of almost 160 yards per game). However, the Luray defense held one of the area’s leading rushers to single digits in yardage as they stopped him for no gain or a loss on 10 of his 18 carries.
The Cougars did not beat themselves. Both teams played a clean game with only one flag in the first half. There were a few insignificant penalties and turnovers both ways late in the game as starters exited the field, but there were no big plays, penalties or key turnovers that changed the tides. This was a tsunami — and it had nothing to do with Hurricane Ian.
Luray dominated in every facet of the game. No team has come close to slowing them down this season. Their perfect record (5-0) will be put to the test again on Friday, Oct. 7 as they travel to the only other unbeaten — Central of Woodstock (6-0), who’s coming off a win at Broadway on Friday.
With the loss, Stuarts Draft (4-1) will now travel to Staunton next Friday to face the Storm at Gypsy Park.
For full schedules, rosters and standings — check out the Bull Run District website.
The PVN Sports broadcast crew selected
the Bulldog Defense
as the Blue Ridge Bank “Players of the Game“.
Luray’s defense was nearly perfect on Friday night as they held one of the top team’s in the region to only 46 yards and one first down in the first half. One of the area’s top running backs, who was averaging almost 160 yards rushing per game, was held to only a handful. The Bulldog defense recorded nearly a dozen tackles for loss against Stuarts Draft and is currently allowing only 11.2 ppg through five games.