By Joe Skinner
Aldie (Nov. 14, 2014) – The John Champe High School football team (8-3) continues its historic season claiming its first ever playoff football game victory with a win over William Monroe High School, 10-3, on Nov. 14 during the first round of the VHSL 3A East Region tournament in Aldie.
“You could tell at halftime that we can win this [and]we should win this,” Champe head coach Jason Dawson said. “They made their minds up as a football team that they were going to win this football game, and they did.”
The game was a defensive battle between the No. 6 Knights and No. 11 Dragons, playing in subfreezing temperature. Teams combined for more than half a dozen punts and most of the sideline calls were for run plays.
The Knights had an opportunity early when junior quarterback Zach Burdick launched a perfect pass down the middle of the field to senior running back Stephen Baker, who had no defenders within ten yards of him, only to see the ball slip through his fingers.
However, the scoring was premium in the first half, as the Dragons struck first with a field goal with 3:21 remaining in the first quarter. Eventually the Knights put the equalizer through the uprights with 6:35 left in the second.
“We got to execute better. We didn’t finish up our blocks up front, and we didn’t protect the ball” Dawson said of the first half.
With little time remaining in the first half, the Dragons lined up for a field goal which Champe junior cornerback Justis McEachin blocked as time expired. This play really turned the momentum back onto the side of the Knights, as they had struggled to get down the field in the first half.
“We are a better second half team. Over the last three weeks we doubled the points [and]doubled the yardage in the second half,” Dawson said.
History definitely repeated itself Friday night, as the Knights were executing more on offense and making big defensive plays down the stretch in the second half of the game.
“Execution definitely was the key in pulling out that win in the end,” Burdick said.
The Knights finally found the end zone with an eight-yard touchdown carry by Baker with 9:56 left in the fourth quarter to push them ahead.
The Dragons proved they would not go down without a fight, and late in the game senior running back Cody Perkins ripped off a huge 47-yard run to bring the William Monroe offense to the Champe eight-yard line.
On third down and goal, the Dragons ran a simple slant pattern when Champe junior cornerback Scotty Schaffler jumped the pass and completed the game-sealing interception for the Knights.
“We were studying that play all week [in practice], and I saw it coming and jumped [the pass]” Schaffler said.
The Knights travel to Fredericksburg to take on the James Monroe High School Yellow Jackets in the VHSL 3A East Region quarterfinals on Friday, Nov. 21.
“[James Monroe] is a different kind of team as far as what they run and who they are personnel wise,” Dawson said, “We are going to have to make some adjustments this week, and hopefully we can stay healthy and stay focused.”
1Q 3:21 WM Alec Yost 35-yard FG
2Q 6:35 JC William Nichols 27-yard FG
4Q 9:56 JC Stephen Baker 8-yard TD run (Nichols PAT)
Joe Skinner is a sophomore at Freedom High School in South Riding and is currently a staff member for the Freedom Flyer. Follow LoCoSports on Twitter (@LoCoSports) for up-to-date news and scores from around Loudoun County.