RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) —
9) Douglas Freeman Rebels
2015: 9-2, reached 5A playoffs
First game: 08/26 @ Midlothian
Why: The Rebels began 2015 9-0 before losing the final regular season game of the year at Hermitage and their first playoff game at home against Lee-Davis. Most of the 2015 team has returned for 2016, and that’s got folks in the near West End excited. Senior QB Trey Laughlin will lead a dual-threat spread attack that features multiple wideouts capable of making an impact. The majority of the offensive line returns as well. On defense, Nick Ackies will anchor the defensive line and be the scariest punter in the 804. The Rebels suffered a tragedy in August when rising junior Frank Woolwine passed away in a car accident. Laughlin says the team has used Woolwine’s death as a rallying point and that they are a closer team because of it. The Rebels’ weak point is depth. 5th-year Head Coach Mike Henderson has only 35 varsity players. As long as Freeman stays healthy, they have a shot at repeating their performance from 2015 and possibly taking it a step or two farther.
Read more about Douglas Freeman from RVA GameBreak here.
10) Thomas Dale Knights
2015: 9-5, reached 6A state semifinal
First game: 08/26 @ Cosby
Why: The Knights would be ranked much higher if not for some major injuries at quarterback headed into the 2016 season. Thomas Dale lost senior returning starter Matt Lawton to a broken collar bone on the first day of hitting. He is not expected back until the Colonial Heights game on September 23rd, if then. His backup Gabe McCollin will also begin the season injured. That leaves Elijah Smith, who entered the season planning to play wide receiver, as the emergency quarterback. It’s a good thing the Knights can run. Head Coach Kevin Tucker has a three-headed monster in the backfield in Davonte Russell, Max Oxendine, and freshman Chris Tyree, who is already counting Division I offers despite never having played a varsity snap. If the Knights can get through their first three games (@ Cosby, vs. L.C. Bird, vs. Varina) at at least 1-2, they can make it back to the 6A playoffs. they reached the state semifinal in 2015.
Read more about Thomas Dale from RVA GameBreak here.