Last year, the Battle of Chester waged on as L.C. Bird was able to sweep Thomas Dale, winning both games the two teams played. The 2011 season was also unique as it was the first time the two teams planned two regular season meetings, and then this will be the same as the teams will open their respective seasons with another rendition of the rivalry, Friday at 7 p.m. at Thomas Dale High School.
Bird won the first meeting in relatively easy fashion last year, dispatching the Knights 28-3. The second game, however was more of a battle, but the Skyhawks were victorious again 15-7. The two wins helped Bird to take the overall series lead at 19-17-1.
Last year, the star of the rivalry was running back Yahkee Johnson, who graduated last year. In the two games, he racked up 437 rushing yards and scored five touchdowns.
The difference in the two games was apparent, as Dale was able to battle in the second game and find success though the passing game when the run game was shut down.
Both teams had similar endings to their season winning district titles, qualified for the playoffs and both lost to Hermitage.
Thomas Dale is more experienced and looks to be a better team this year on paper to start the season. Running back D.J. Reid will look to do his best Johnson impersonation this season for the Knights as he eyes the single season school rushing record. The Skyhawks, will look to new starting running back Paul Robertson, and Terrence Irving, a transfer from Henrico who’s behind center this year for Bird at quarterback.
“Pound for pound, this is still the best rivalry in the area,” said Thomas Dale head coach Kevin Tucker. “It’s the game these kids get up for and want to play in.”
Overall, Bird has won the past three meetings, with Thomas Dale last defeating Bird in 2009 in the playoffs on the way to a state championship.
“We enjoy playing those guys, its outstanding for the community,” said Bird head coach David Bedwell. “It’s going to be a good one as always.”
The second meeting between the two teams will be on November 2 at L.C. Bird. As always, with both teams in contention for district titles a third meeting in the playoffs is possible as well. The competition and rivalry remains positive for the community.
See you at the game.