(Editor’s Note: Anyone wishing to submit stories about local sports (High School, Middle School, Youth Leagues, Rec. Leagues) is encouraged to email us for details.)
By James Cook:
Bronco Mendenhall begins his second season as the head coach in Charlottesville and looks to rebound from a rough first season last year.
The Cavaliers finished 2016 with a 2-10 record and things can only be looking up for Virginia in 2017. The schedule; however, doesn’t do the Cavaliers any favors in the always tough Atlantic Coast Conference, plus a tough non-conference schedule that includes a trip to Boise State and improved UConn and Indiana.
Kurt Benkert returns at quarterback after being injured most of 2016 to lead the Cavs’ offense. The defense brings back the top two tacklers in the ACC in 2016 with linebacker Micah Kiser and safety Quin Blanding. Both are returning for their senior season to help steer the ship in the right direction. Juan Thornhill, who had three interceptions in 2016, also returns to help on defense as Virginia looks to clog up the middle this fall in their 3-4 defense.
The Cavaliers play seven home games this fall which will help, but they must win the games they are suppose to and go from there. William & Mary (FCS opponent) comes to town September 2nd and this game is not a guaranteed win for the Cavaliers, as another in-state FCS school won in Charlottesville in 2016 (Richmond).
Virginia will travel to Miami, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, and Louisville in conference games, so the road will be tough, but it can be manageable if the Cavaliers play improved football in 2017. The Cavaliers look to end their nightmare against the rival Hokies from Blacksburg on November 24th as Virginia Tech heads to Charlottesville in the regular season ending for both schools. The Hokies have won thirteen straight over the Cavaliers.
The idea that Virginia can flirt with a 6-6 record is not out of the question , so there is hope for the Wahoos and their dedicated fanbase to possibly get into a bowl game if they pull off a couple surprises and get the breaks that they didn’t get in 2016. Virginia hasn’t been bowling since 2011.
10 Names to Watch in 2017
Doni Dowling WR
Malcom Cook LB
Micah Kiser LB
Jordan Ellis RB
Quin Blanding S
Andrew Brown DE
Tim Harris CB
Kurt Benkert QB
Colin McGovern RT
David Eldridge WR