HENRICO, Va. (WWBT) - Some coaches and players for Glen Allen and Hermitage will tell you that the two teams share a rivalry. Others will say that it’s no more than just another game. Either way, Friday’s match-up between the Jaguars and Panthers is a big one for two squads looking to stay perfect on the season and continue taking steps forward as respective programs.
Hermitage is 1-0 on the campaign after opening with a 9-0 win over Varina. David Bedwell grabbed a victory in his Panther coaching debut, his first win on the sidelines since 2016.
“It brought me back to my very first year as a head coach, all the way back at Henrico High School, 1997,” Bedwell recalled. “All those jitters. I want to be back out here and then ‘uh-oh, we’re back out here. We’ve got to get things going.’ It was fun and exciting.”
Bedwell admits that there was some rust and he made some coaching mistakes, but they’re all things he plans on improving.
Meanwhile, down Staples Mill Road, Perry Jones is in his second year at the head of Glen Allen’s program. He has the Jaguars out to just the second 2-0 start in program history and a lot of it comes down to his players becoming accountable.
“Once you can get a team full of guys who are looking to the men to the left and the right and telling them that they have to raise their level, then you get the best out of each one of them,” Jones noted.
Hermitage and Glen Allen began playing in 2011, the first year the Jaguars fielded a varsity football team. The Panthers took the first four meetings in the series, but the Jags have responded to win the last two match-ups. These two schools that are a six minute drive apart renew acquaintances on Friday night.
“It’ll be a big game just because of who it is,” said Bedwell. “I told our kids we want to get back to playing big games here at Hermitage and this is one of them.”
“The rivalry has always been there,” added Glen Allen senior linebacker Andrew Worsham. “It’s just a mindset that this is our turf and we’ve got to take everything.”
The Jaguars bring a physical defense to the gridiron on Friday and will look to contain Nigel James, Hermitage’s senior running back who rushed for 142 yards and a touchdown in the Panthers’ opening win. The Glen Allen offense is also finding its rhythm, as it takes the field with two games already under its belt.
“I think that this kid is the best back in the area,” Jones said of James. “We know that we’ll have our hands full with him.”
“You can expect a dog fight. Two good teams, they’re going to battle it out, it’s going to come down to who’s the toughest,” said Hermitage senior linebacker Josiah Robinson.
It’s a big opportunity for both squads. Hermitage can take another step and continue working towards getting back to a Central Virginia power. Glen Allen has a chance to begin a season 3-0 for the first time ever.
“It would be good for the program,” said Jones. “These guys haven’t really felt that on the varsity level and I want this for them, they want it for themselves.”
“There can only be one undefeated team off of Staples Mill Road,” Bedwell said. “It’s going to be on Friday night- either us or them.”
Hermitage and Glen Allen kick off at 7:00 PM on Friday on the Panthers’ home field.
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