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Fall Football Preview: Dukes Ready To Defend Title, Spiders and Tribe Ready To Chase Champs

A look ahead at the upcoming college football season and some analysis of the Dukes, Spiders, and Tribe.

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Seven months ago when the clock struck triple zeros at Toyota Stadium, James Madison University stood atop the Football Championship Subdivision as National Champions after a 28-14 victory over Youngstown State in the FCS National Title Game. The victory gave the Dukes their second national championship in football (2004 was the first) and brought the state of Virginia its first college football championship since Richmond won it all in 2008.

Now JMU will embark on the daunting quest to defend its title. Fortunately the Dukes return 14 of 22 starters from its championship roster, enough for the voters in the Coaches Poll to tag them with the #1 ranking to start the year. On tap for JMU in week one on September 2nd is a trip to FBS level East Carolina so we will know just how good this roster is right out of the gate. The Dukes will be led by senior QB Bryan Schor, senior TE Jonathan Kloosterman and senior lineman Aaron Stinnie on offense with senior lineman Andrew Ankrah and senior safety Raven Greene heading up the defense.

After upsetting 7th ranked North Dakota in the FCS Playoffs, the Richmond Spiders 2016 season came to a crashing halt after a 38-0 defeat at #2 Eastern Washington. By all means it was still a successful season for Richmond as they finished 10-4 overall, tied for 4th in the competitive Colonial Athletic Association with a 5-3 mark and notched an opening week upset of FBS member UVA in Charlottesville.

Richmond, who opens the year ranked #7 in the FCS Coaches poll, brings back 2016 CAA Preseason Player of the Year Kyle Lauletta at QB along with talented running back Deontez Thompson to anchor the offense. Much like JMU, the Spiders will throw themselves in the fire right away when the travel to FCS power Sam Houston State, who will begin the season ranked #3 in the FCS Coaches Poll, on August 27th.

William and Mary will look to bounce back from a disappointing 2016 campaign. The Tribe began the year ranked in the Coaches Poll, but ultimately finished nowhere near the playoffs with 5-6 overall mark and 3-5 in league play. Up first for William and Mary is a trip to Charlottesville to play UVA on September 2nd. While the Tribe don’t have the starting QB position nailed down yet (reportedly five players are in the mix), they will bring back senior offensive players WR Devonte Dedmon and lineman Chris Durant to provide veteran leadership.

With JMU and Richmond in contention for a National Title once again and the Tribe poised to rebound, it appears Virginia will be well represented when the playoffs roll around in December.

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Movies in the Outfield at the Diamond Start this Week

The twice a week series will have movies on Thursday and Saturday. They kick things off this Thursday with the classic “Field of Dreams”. We also would have approved of “Sandlot” or “Bull Durham”.

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From the Richmond Flying Squirrels:

The Richmond Flying Squirrels will begin hosting Movies in the Outfield, a socially distanced movie-going experience on the field at The Diamond, beginning Thursday night.

Upcoming Showings | Event Seating & Ticketing | Pre-Order & Day-Of Concessions | Policies & Event Procedures

Movies will be shown on The Diamond’s video board on Thursday and Saturday nights. Admission is $8 per person (children 3 and younger are admitted free). Information on upcoming showings, tickets, concessions and health and safety policies can be found here.

Movies in the Outfield is presented by VCU Health and supported by Aldi, Dominion Energy, Elephant Insurance, Richmond Area Honda Dealers and Pepsi.

The new, twice-a-week series begins on Thursday night with a showing of the classic baseball film, “Field of Dreams.” The gates at The Diamond open at 6:05 p.m. and the movie will begin at 7:05 p.m.

This Saturday, the Flying Squirrels will host a showing of “The Incredibles” at 6:05 p.m. The gates will open at 5:05 p.m.

Tickets are on sale now for both showings here.

To promote social distancing, seating will be located on the field in either 10’x10’ spaces for up to four people or 10’x20’ spaces for up to eight people. Guests are encouraged to bring blankets or pillows, but chairs will not be permitted.

Concessions will be available for Movies in the Outfield. The Flying Squirrels strongly encourage all guests to pre-order food prior to their event date. Orders can be submitted here. Food orders will be available for pick-up at Rosie’s Bistro at the Bullpen, which is located on the right field-side of the stadium. All food orders made at the event must be submitted online and can also be placed here.

An additional beverage-only stand will be located on the third-base side of the ballpark and will accept credit card payment only.

Parking for Movies in the Outfield is available for free in the Blue Lot at The Diamond, located off Arthur Ashe Boulevard across from the bus station. All guests should enter the stadium through the right-field gate located near the Food Lion Party Den.

The Flying Squirrels strongly encourage all guests to adhere to all protocols for the health and safety of other guests and staff, including wearing a mask and following social distancing guidelines.

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Kickers

Kickers and USL1 Announce Plans for 2020 Season

The Richmond Kickers haven’t announced their plans for hosting games and if fans will be allowed into City Stadium.

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Official Richmond Kickers Announcement:

USL League One announced on Thursday a revised regular season and playoff structure for the 2020 season has been approved by the league’s Board of Governors. The new format for the league’s second season will see each of League One’s teams play 20 games across 15 weeks in the regular season to determine the sides that will meet in the 2020 League One Final.

The revised schedule will see each team in League One face 10 teams during the regular season, with one opponent omitted from each club’s schedule to help limit air travel. Each team will play its assigned regional rival four times – twice home and twice away – and seven other clubs in a home-and-home series. The final two games of the season will be made up of one home and one away game against two more clubs, creating a 20-game slate.

The regular season will be played over a single-table format, with the schedule set to kick off on Saturday, July 18 and conclude on Saturday, October 24th. The top two teams in the final regular season standings will then meet the week of October 31st in the 2020 League One Final.

All league activities for the duration of the 2020 season will be coordinated in compliance with both local health authorities protocols and those previously published by the USL, which were created in consultation with medical and infectious disease experts along with required government approvals.

Additionally, League One’s Board of Governors approved a motion that will allow five substitutes to be used for the remainder of the 2020 season. Matchday squads will remain at 18 players, with clubs mandated to provide 23-man provisional squad lists at least 48 hours prior to kickoff, as per league rules.

The number of substitutes represents an increase from the three substitutions rule that had been in place. However, to avoid disruption to the game, each team will only have three opportunities to make all of its allotted five substitutions.

Substitutions may also be made at halftime without counting against a club’s three in-game opportunities. The decision is in line with the temporary law amendment made by the International Football Association Board in May.

Every game of the 2020 League One season will be broadcast on ESPN+. Announcements regarding Home Openers for each club and the full 2020 schedule will be announced in the coming days.

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Downtown

New report finds Virginia Capital Trail generated $8.9 million in local economic activity last year

The report concluded that the Capital Trail contributed approximately $8.9 million in economic activity during FY 2018-19. The Trail which has seen a 65% increase in trail usage in March and a 46% increase in April over last year, is a driving stimulus for local business, tourism, and economic activity, the report found.

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The Virginia Capital Trail Foundation recently released an economic impact report by the University of Richmond in collaboration with the Institute for Service Research, the findings were significant.

The report concluded that the Capital Trail contributed approximately $8.9 million in economic activity during FY 2018-19. The Trail which has seen a 65% increase in trail usage in March and a 46% increase in April over last year, is a driving stimulus for local business, tourism, and economic activity, the report found.

The full economic impact report can be found here.

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