Instant Replay Downs
Just Give Him the Ball
H.D. Woodson started the season with a four-game road trip to games in Pennsylvania and Ohio, and the Warriors lost all four. Senior running back Kayvone Spriggs then went to Coach Greg Fuller and said he needed the ball more. While most coaches would have rolled their eyes, Fuller, who decided at that point to take over the team's play-calling, gave it some thought. It turns out, Spriggs might have saved the Warriors' season. In the six subsequent games, Spriggs has rushed for 1,173 yards and 10 touchdowns, and the Warriors haven't lost. No performance, though, was more prolific -- or timely -- than his 29 carries for 317 yards and two touchdowns in Saturday's 30-24 victory over Coolidge in the DCIAA semifinals.
Coach's Greatest Hits
As he walked off the field following his team's 14-6 victory over then-No. 4 Eleanor Roosevelt on Saturday, Wise Coach DaLawn Parrish looked as if he had played in the game himself, streaks of mud caking his white Wise football golf shirt. Parrish took a rough tumble late in regulation when, after throwing a pass on the run, Eleanor Roosevelt quarterback Mike Thomas ran nearly full speed into the coach. Parrish, who played defensive back at Wake Forest before graduating in 2000, was noticeably shaken up. Afterward, he could not remember the last time he was hit that hard. "It wasn't in high school," he said. "Maybe in little league when my mom said, 'Get up, boy,' and I was thinking, no."
The Power of Belief
Twice in the past three years, Chantilly has lost to Westfield during the regular season only to top the Bulldogs in the Virginia AAA Division 6 Northern Region playoffs. Those victories, coincidentally, are the Chargers' only two in the 10-game series between the nearby schools. This regular season, Chantilly allowed 18 unanswered second-half points in losing, 32-7, to Westfield. On Friday, the Chargers knocked off the defending state champions 35-28 in the region semifinals after trailing 20-7. "I was concerned all week," Chantilly Coach Mike Lalli said of any lingering doubts from that Sept. 19 loss. "We kept telling them to believe, believe in their teammates, believe in the team concept that good things will happen to us if keep trying and play the full 48 minutes."
The Shiley Effect
When Clarke County quarterback Zach Shiley fractured his leg early this season, the team's saving grace was having more Shileys available to pick up the slack. Zach's twin brother, Sam, stepped in at quarterback and led a prolific single-wing ground attack while running behind older brother Jared Shiley, a Virginia A all-Bull Run District center. Zach, a more polished passer, has since returned from injury, adding another dimension to the attack for Clarke County, which won its first playoff game since 1990 when it beat Appomattox last Friday, 27-19. "Somehow, our team just keeps stepping up and playing together," Eagles Coach Chris Parker said. Nowhere is that togetherness more evident than on Clarke County's offensive line, where all five starters earned all-district honors. The Eagles (9-2) will play for their first Region B Division 2 title in more than 20 years against Gretna on Friday night.