So, as Martinsburg lined up for a potential game-winning two-point try with 1 minute 9 seconds left in Friday’s game, Chalmers broke into a dead sprint – toward his own sideline.
“I did a quick check, and I saw twelve guys on the field,” Chalmers said. “And I was the closest one to the sideline.”
When Huskies’ Coach Mike Burnett saw Chalmers’ mad dash, he called timeout to make sure the game didn’t boil down to a substitution miscue.
“We wanted to give our kids the best chance they had,” Burnett said.
After the timeout, the chance belonged to Chalmers.
The Bulldogs motioned their fullback over to Chalmers’ spot on the left side of the line, and that’s where the run went.
He engaged the tight end, then slipped the block and looked for the runner. He lost his feet, but not his grasp of the ballcarrier.
“I kinda tripped on it,” said Chalmers of the tackle that secured Tuscarora’s 35-34 win over the three-time West Virginia state champs. “I was on the ground. So I just held on for dear life, and everyone else came in and helped me out.”
When his defense held Martinsburg out, Huskies’ running back Noah Reimers felt a sizeable weight lifted off his shoulders. Reimers – who rushed for 238 yards on 19 carries – fumbled on Tuscarora’s prior possession when the Huskies needed just a handful of first downs to run out the clock.
“The fumble really made me pretty angry,” Reimers said. “So that was a huge relief for me. I would have beaten myself up for a long time if that had not gone our way.”
Burnett scheduled Martinsburg to challenge his team, and the Huskies responded. The Leesburg school emerged from the weekend as the only undefeated team in Loudoun County, and one of only a handful of unbeaten 5A squads in Northern Virginia.
“I don’t remember the last time a Virginia team beat Martinsburg,” Burnett said.
Pioneers have college-caliber leader in Bicknell
It’s a running joke in Patriot’s locker room that the Pioneers’ coach – Brud Bicknell – is a dead ringer for Pete Carroll.
But the analogy doesn’t stop with both coaches’ well-quaffed gray manes.
“Surprisingly, he actually kinda acts like him sometimes,” said running back Nick Ferrari-Smith. “He’s pretty mellow for the most part, which is the same. And always with the gum in the mouth, which is the same.”
What else do the two have in common? Right now, they’re winning. Both Carroll’s Seahawks and Bicknell’s Pioneers put up 40-plus points in blowout victories over the weekend. The latter downed Freedom-Woodbridge, 41-6, in Nokesville on Friday.
The Pioneers (3-1) jumped out to a 28-0 lead at halftime, throwing a wrench in the Eagles’ run-heavy gameplan.
“Any time you make teams a little bit one-dimensional by getting out on them and forcing them to throw, it increases the opportunity for turnovers,” Bicknell said.
Ferrari-Smith, who ran for two touchdowns Friday, said the Pioneers’ 3-1 start has taken his classmates by surprise.
“The students had no idea,” he said. “They were just going off our 3-7 record from last year. Some of our teammates didn’t even think that we’d be this good.”
The senior running back said “anyone can catch a hot streak,” and that Patriot’s arc this season will depend on consistency. Consistency goes back to leadership, he says, and leadership starts at the top.
“[Bicknell] just kinda brings everyone together,” Ferrari-Smith said. “I don’t know how he does it.
“I always think, ‘like, why is he coaching high school?’ He can easily go to college and coach.”