Max Meadows… The Fort Chiswell Pioneers are under the direction of head coach Derrick Jackson, who’s in his 10th year. He will have Jerard Blevins, Josh Wingate and Anthony Watson as his assistants. Coach Blevins will be the junior varsity head coach. The Pioneers will have six seniors, three juniors and two sophomores.
Fort Chiswell will play their usual district foes, Galax, Grayson Co., Narrows, Bland Co. and Graham. Their out of district schedule will have county rivals George Wythe and Rural Retreat. They play Chilhowie, Tazewell, Eastern Montgomery and their usual three-game Christmas Tournament. The Pioneers will actually play Graham only once for their 22 game schedule.
Coach Jackson was asked to give a few words about each of his players. He started with his seniors. (Bryson Booher) is quick, can shoot and handle the ball. Does a good job at point guard for us. Will rely on him a great deal this upcoming year. (Jared Stephens) is a good inside player at 6-2. Plays hard, Good jump shooter out to 12 feet. Good defender.”
“(Ben Porter) is a 6-3 post player. Strong, quick .Was in weight room in off-season a lot. (Ben Van Dyne) is a 5-9 guard, strong with ball. Will see action at both guard positions. (Cole Underwood) didn’t play last year. He’s 6-6, big body. Space eater. Defends the rim. Will see some time.” (Elliott Delp) is a physical wing player . 5-11/ 6-0. Likes to mix it up. Strong and athletic.”
Coach then started on his junior players. “(Colby Rider) is a 6-3 post player, his third year on varsity. Very strong, finishes strong. Physical player. (Andrew Stoots) will play some guard for us. Was on JV last year. Football player who is a basketball scorer. (Dallas Beasley) shoots well, was on JV last year. He’s an outside threat.”
The two sophomores will be Tanner Bailey and Isaiah Ramsey. Coach remarked on Bailey by saying, ”Is a 6-1 wing player. Athletic, Penetrates well. We need him to step up for us. Can help us. (Isaiah Ramsey) is a 6-2 wing player. Athletic and has a good shot. Needs to learn to drive and create more. Physical.”
Coach Jackson summed up the district this way, ”Galax’s Verle Brown does an excellent job for them. That seems to always find a way to be tough. Always play good defense.”
(Grayson Co.) will have a new coach. Lot of their players are back from a disappointing season for them last year. (Graham) will be very tough. Lost their best player but returns some talented kids. Their JV was very good.”
“(Narrows) is another team with a new coach. Will be scrappy. They shot the ball well. (Bland Co.) are young and are good. Have five- six players that are young and very good. They are an upcoming team. The Watters kid is a very good freshman.”
Coach Jackson provided insight on the out-of-district games by saying, “(Chilhowie) Warriors love to shoot the three’s. They can make it a long night for you if they are on. (Rural Retreat), I think their whole team is back. Will be improved. (Tazewell) is another team that will have a new coach. Last year they were good, and most of them are back from what I’ve hear.”
“(Eastern Montgomery), most of their team is back. Couple good players. (George Wythe’s) Coach Burns has an experienced team back. Tall, athletic, well-coached and good ball club.”
Coach Jackson said, ”We will play up tempo; we want to push the ball . Get out and run if possible. Like to look inside first offensively. On defense we will play a lot of 2-3 zone and will match up out of that. We will press some. We like to get after it on defense. Pressure the ball and hopefully cause some turnovers.”
As far as the junior varsity for the Pioneers, Coach Jackson and Blevins said, ”We will carry 15 kids this year. Most of them will be freshmen with three or four sophomores.“
This years Fort Chiswell team has some good experience returning and should be in the mix of things. With some breaks, they will be in the hunt for some post-season action. They need to get leadership from their seniors and consistent play will carry them a long way.