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Hokies Football Preview: Despite year one success, Fuente faces new challenges in year two

The mood in Blacksburg is significantly more optimistic than it was at this time one year ago as Justin Fuente begins his second season with the Virginia Tech Hokies.

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The mood in Blacksburg is significantly more optimistic than it was at this time one year ago. In case you don’t remember, Virginia Tech’s legendary head coach Frank Beamer retired after 29 seasons, and the Hokies lured Justin Fuente, with only 4 years of head coaching experience, away from Memphis. To add to the uncertainty, Fuente brought in a junior college transfer, Jerod Evans, to play quarterback instead of selecting from the slew of QBs already in house.

However, after a double digit win season for the first time since 2011, an appearance in the ACC Championship Game and finishing ranked in the final AP Poll (#16), it appears the Hokies have found themselves a head football coach for the foreseeable future. However, with new seasons come new challenges, and the 2017 season will provide a few significant ones for the Hokies.

The most pressing issue for Fuente and his staff will be replacing QB Jerod Evans who departed for the NFL Draft (went undrafted) despite having one more year of eligibility left. With Evans gone the Hokies lose both their top passer (3546 yards, 29 TDs) and top rusher (846 yards, 12 TDs). When practice began earlier this month it appeared to be a three man race between junior college transfer AJ Bush, redshirt freshman Joshua Jackson and true freshman Hendon Hooker.

While none of the three have ever taken a snap in an FBS game, Bush brings the most experience at the college level having spent two years at Nebraska before transferring to Iowa Western Community College for one year. Jackson, however, has the most experience in Fuente’s system, already having been in Blacksburg and in the program for a full year. Hooker arrived early and enrolled in classes at Tech in the spring, so he isn’t exactly playing catch up the way most true freshmen would be. Ultimately Jackson proved to be the most consistent and as a result won the job by the second week of practice, earning him the opportunity to start in the opener September 3rd.

Speaking of September 3rd, Virginia Tech will continue its trend of playing a ranked power 5 foe in the non-conference portion of their schedule when they open against West Virginia at FedEx Field. One of the biggest knocks against Frank Beamer from national pundits was his inability to win major early season games against ranked foes. Close losses to Alabama and Boise State in 2009 and 2010 were followed up with mostly non-competitive showings against Alabama and Ohio State in 2013 and 2015. Yes, there was that 2014 shocker in Columbus against Ohio State but that was the exception, not the rule.

Last year Fuente had his first crack at a big early season non-conference opponent when the Hokies met Tennessee at Bristol Motor Speedway (largest college football crowd ever 156,000+). Despite having the edge in first downs (21-16) and total yards (400-330) Tech was -4 in turnover margin and lost by 21 points. While the season opener isn’t an actual “must win”, it sure feels like Fuente needs to win this one to establish credibility in big game scenarios.

Fuente has proven himself to be a QB whisperer given his success with Andy Dalton, Paxton Lynch and Jerod Evans so Hokie fans shouldn’t worry about not having a starter named at this point. Whoever they decide to plug in should give Tech enough of an offensive spark. The bigger issue will be how they handle primetime in week one. An early quality win would provide momentum going into a tougher than normal ACC slate while a loss could begin to raise questions about Fuente’s big game ability. September 3rd can’t get here soon enough.

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Kickers

Preview: Kickers One Win From Championship

With a win against Chattanooga on Saturday the Kickers would face Greenville for the USL League Championship.

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Opponent: Chattanooga Red Wolves (5-5-4)
Date/Time: Saturday, October 24th, 6:30
Last Result: Kickers 3 – Orlando 1

Weather Forecast from WeatherBug.com

 

Three Things to Kick About

  1. Daryl Grove – It’s with an extremely heavy heart we share the news of the passing a Richmond soccer legend Daryl Grove. Daryl was one half of the Total Soccer Show and devoted to the growth of soccer and was an all-around great guy. He will be missed.
  2. Terzaghi – Leading Golden Boot winner didn’t make the trip down to Orlando on Wednesday after picking up a knock on Saturday. Every single Kickers fan is hoping to see him on the field this Saturday.
  3. Win and In – It’s that simple. The more complicated version is that the Kickers need to tie Omaha’s result. Omaha kicks off after the Kickers game so the Kicker just have to win and take any guesswork out of the equation.

Prediction

I’m honestly too nervous to think rationally and feel that predicting anything but a win will cast bad vibes on the team. So gotta go with a Kickers win.

Kickers 1 – Chattanooga 0

Official Richmond Kickers Preview

The Richmond Kickers (8-5-2) close out the 2020 USL League One regular season this Saturday night at City Stadium as they play host to Chattanooga Red Wolves SC (5-5-4), presented by Rybec Insurance with Allstate. Gates will open up at 5:30 p.m. and the match will kick off at 6:30 p.m. The match will air live on WTVR CBS 6.3 (Comcast 206, Verizon FiOS 466) and streaming on ESPN+. A very limited number of tickets are still available at RichmondKickers.com/Tickets.
Chattanooga leads the overall series against the Kickers, taking four wins to the Kickers one win over the last two seasons. This will mark the second time these two clubs will meet this season. The Kickers made the trek to CHI Memorial Stadium back on September 12, falling on the road to the Red Wolves 1-2. Emiliano Terzaghi opened up the scoring, putting away a volley from Matt Bolduc in the 13th minute. Chattanooga responded in the 54th minute as Tanner Dieterich leveled the score. Steven Beattie came off the bench to score the game-winner in second half stoppage time.
Richmond is coming off a strong offensive performance, taking a 3-1 road win at Orlando City B Wednesday. OCB took the lead after just eight minutes from a goal by Kenji Tanaka. Orlando was dealt an early blow as Daniel Rosario saw a straight red card in the 24th minute, which forced the home side to play a man down the remainder of the match. Mutaya Mwape scored his first goal of the season in the 36th minute from a set up by Greg Boehme to level it. Stanley Alves scored not only the go-ahead goal, but his first professional goal after Mumbi Kwesele laid it off for the forward in the 51st minute. Oalex Anderson completed the trifecta of first goals of the season when he fought off his defender to find the back of the net for the insurance goal in the 64th minute.
Red Wolves SC battled Forward Madison to a 1-1 draw at CHI Memorial Stadium last Saturday afternoon. The referee pointed to the spot after Greg Hurst was brought down by a late tackle from Gustavo Fernandes inside the Madison box. Hurst converted from the penalty spot eight minutes into the match to get Chattanooga out in front early. Michael Vang found the equalizer in the 69th minute as both teams shared the points.
The scenarios for making the USL League One Final are simple for the Kickers. A victory over Chattanooga will see Richmond head to the Final at Greenville. With a draw, the Kickers would need either an Omaha loss or a draw against Fort Lauderdale for Richmond to advance. A loss on Saturday would mean that the Kickers will need both Omaha to lose their match and North Texas either draw or lose their match against Tormenta FC.
Stay up to date with the latest news from the Kickers at RichmondKickers.com and on the official team app.
Richmond Kickers

Midfielder Mutaya Mwape (#10) scored his first goal the season to level the score against Orlando Wednesday. The Zambian made his 12th appearance this season, and seventh start to go with an assist. Forward Stanley Alves (#9) made his third start of the season and scored his first professional goal against Orlando. A product of University of Massachusetts, Lowell, Alves has played in ten matches in his rookie season. Forward Oalex Anderson (#15) scored his first goal for the Kickers as the insurance goal at OCB. Joining later in the season, Anderson made his second start and fifth appearance for Richmond.

Chattanooga Red Wolves SC

Forward Greg Hurst (#11) leads Chattanooga in scoring with seven goals this season. He sits tied for second overall in the league behind Emiliano Terzaghi with his ten goals. Forward Mark Hernandez (#20) has four assists this season to lead the team. The Anaheim, Ca. native also has three goals in 11 matches this season for the Red Wolves. Goalkeeper Alex Mangels (#24) is in his second season in Chattanooga and holds a 1.14 goals against average heading into Saturday’s match in Richmond. The product of the University of California, Berkeley has three clean sheets through 14 matches.

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Events

CarMax Tacky Light Run reimagined with virtual and road-based courses for 2020

The CarMax Tacky Light Run, originally scheduled for Saturday, December 12, won’t be held as a traditional single day, in-person event, and event organizers will instead offer multiple ‘Official Courses’ for registered participants to use.

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The CarMax Tacky Light Run, originally scheduled for Saturday, December 12, won’t be held as a traditional single day, in-person event, and event organizers will instead offer multiple ‘Official Courses’ for registered participants to use. Courses will be open December 11-December 13 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., and a virtual option is also available for participants to complete their run or walk on a course of their own choosing as well.

One of the planned courses will utilize the Walton Park neighborhood, one of the area’s most festive collections of holiday lights and elaborate decorations, and the traditional site of the CarMax Tacky Light Run.

Now in its eighth year, the holiday-themed fun run combines one of Richmond’s favorite traditions – tacky holiday lights – with a celebration of active living. Registration is now open with pricing for adults ($18) and youth age 14 and under ($12), and, in addition to the marked and measured course options, registration also includes a long-sleeve event participant shirt, packet mailing, participant race bib, and a $5 discount to register for the 2021 CarMax Tacky Light Run.

All registered participants will also be automatically entered into a contest for a special CarMax Tacky Light Run prize pack. Optional add-ons to registration include a commemorative CarMax Tacky Light Run 2020 ornament, holiday-themed merchandise, and glow kits.

“We are excited that Sports Backers has come up with a creative solution to keep the tradition of this fun and festive event going this year,” said Leslie Parpart, Director of Community Relations at CarMax. “The CarMax Tacky Light Run has become a much-anticipated annual event for residents and families all over the Richmond region and we’re honored to be the lead sponsor for the eighth consecutive year.”

Each official CarMax Tacky Light Run course will have signage, mile markers, and passive traffic calming measures to promote the safety of participants. Event organizers will also provide additional support including lighting and other safety measures while courses are open from December 11-December 13.

“The CarMax Tacky Light Run has grown to become one of Richmond’s favorite holiday activities and we’re excited to offer this new event format for participants to take part in a festive and active way while following public health guidelines to support the health and safety of participants, volunteers, and staff,” said Molly Johnson, Event Director for Sports Backers. “We’re thankful for the continued support of CarMax and Chesterfield County and we look forward to the opportunity to celebrate in a new format in December.”

Participants will also be encouraged to dress up in their best, brightest, and tackiest holiday gear, and the CarMax Tacky Light Run Costume Contest will reward the top costumes in the categories of ‘Best Tacky Sweater,’ ‘Merry and Bright: Brightest Dressed,’ and ‘Best Overall: Individual and Group.’ Costume contest participants can submit photos to [email protected] or post on social media and tag @TackyLight Run, @SportsBackers or #NeverTooTacky.

Kids Run RVA will serve as the official event charity for the CarMax Tacky Light Run. Kids Run RVA is an initiative of Sports Backers that reaches thousands of young people and provides run clubs and fitness opportunities in schools and neighborhoods across the Richmond region, including many underserved communities.

Kids Run RVA gives youth the chance to have fun while being physically active in their own communities and gets thousands of kids moving throughout the Richmond area on a daily basis, with the goal of establishing healthy habits early in life that are critical to the long-term physical, emotional, and social development of all children. Kids Run RVA works to break down barriers and provide all kids the opportunity to participate in daily physical activity.

For more information on the CarMax Tacky Light Run, please visit www.sportsbackers.org.

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Kickers

Photos and Game Summary: Kickers Stumble at Home

The Kickers still control their destiny but Saturday’s loss did not help the cause.

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Official Kickers Game Summary

The Richmond Kickers (7-5-2) were defeated by South Georgia Tormenta FC (4-6-4) 0-1 at City Stadium Saturday night. Marco Micaletto scored the lone goal of the night just before halftime to down Richmond at home.

Scott Thomsen came up with a massive block in the 17th minute to keep Tormenta off the board. Stefan Muells found the space to get a cross in front of goal that seemed to slip through to Marco Micaletto at the back post. He quickly twisted around to go for a shot as Thomsen got his foot in the way for the block.

Emiliano Terzaghi was denied in the first half stoppage from getting the Kickers on the board. Matt Bolduc chipped the ball over the top for Jonathan Bolanos making a run up the right wing. Before reaching the endline, he managed to lay the ball off for Terzaghi. He looked for an opening for a shot that ended up being blocked and eventually cleared.

Tormenta broke the deadlock just before the halftime whistle. Nil Vinyals picked up control of the ball at midfield and made his run right up the center of the pitch. He slotted his pass through as Micalletto got to the ball. His shot skipped under Akira Fitzgerald and into the goal.

A massive save from Fitzgerald kept South Georgia from picking up a second in the 58th minute. Curtis Thorn found the space to get the ball through for Josh Phelps, who attempted to take a one-time shot. Fitzgerald got his body in the way to deflect it away from the Richmond goal.

The woodwork came to the rescue for Richmond in the 74th minute. Ricardo Gomez was able to fight off Stanley Alves and noticed Fitzgerald off his line. He went for the shot from about 30 yards out that pinged off the crossbar and over for a Richmond goal kick.

Matt Bolduc came close to finding an equalizer in the 80th minute. Coming off a goal kick from Fitzgerald, Alves took control of the ball and looked towards goal. Bolduc made a run up the right wing, just in time for Alves to find him. Bolduc cut towards the center of the field looking for an opening. With two defenders on him, he went for the shot that Pablo Jara needed to dive for to deny him.

South Georgia would be reduced to ten men in second half stoppage time. Two minutes after receiving his first yellow card, Micaletto was called for a foul just outside of the Tormenta box. As he got to his feet, he got into an altercation with Bolduc whom he had just fouled. The referee pulled out a second yellow card followed by a red to send him off.

Stay up to date with the latest news from the Kickers at RichmondKickers.com and on the official team app.

LINEUPS

Richmond: Akira Fitzgerald, Scott Thomsen, Ivan Magalhaes, Kyle Venter, Matt Bolduc, Victor Falck, Ryley Kraft, Emiliano Terzaghi, Jonathan Bolanos (76’ – David Diosa), Luke Pavone (66’ – Stanley Alves), Oalex Anderson (58’ – Wahab Ackwei)

Unused Substitutes: Lee Johnston, Gianluca Cuomo, Mumbi Kwesele, Greg Boehme

South Georgia: Pablo Jara, Curtis Thorn, Jordan Shelton, Josh Phelps (70’ – Jad Arslan), Lars Eckenrode, Stefan Mueller, Ricardo Gomez (90’ – Lucas Coutinho), Abuchi Obinwa, Nil Vinyals, Daniel Jackson (83’ – Devyn Jambga), Marco Micaletto

Unused Substitutes: Paul Lewis, Rhys Williams, Tunde Akinlosotu, Mikie Rowe

MATCH INFORMATION

Referee: Matt Franz
Assistant Referees: Jonah Kind, William Aten
Fourth Official: Jeffrey Skinker
Attendance: 875
Weather: Clear, 57 ºF

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