Battlefield vs. Hermitage: Bobcats win first Virginia AAA Division 6 title
Sunday, December 12, 2010; 12:06 AM
CHARLOTTESVILLE - Headed into the Virginia AAA Division 6 final, Battlefield sophomore Ryan Swingle did not have to look far to find a fellow quarterback who had led his team to a state title as a 10th-grader.
Coach Mark Cox lifted Annandale to a state crown as a sophomore in 1978, and Swingle did much the same Saturday against Hermitage at Scott Stadium. He threw two first-half touchdown passes for the No. 5 Bobcats in a typical, total-team 26-7 win over Hermitage that brought home the program's first crown in its sixth varsity season.
"He talked to the whole team about" what it's like to win a state title, Swingle said. "I took it in and said I can be just like Coach. He did it every day this week. He just said it's the greatest feeling, and I hope you guys can feel it, too."
In five playoff games, Swingle, who spent a chunk of the season on the Bobcats' junior varsity, completed 33 of 41 passes for 595 yards and eight touchdowns with only two interceptions. He was 6 for 9 in the championship. The quarterback he shares snaps with, senior Devon Greene, threw for a touchdown in the fourth quarter to help seal the victory, the Bobcats' third this postseason over an unbeaten team.
Swingle connected with junior Andrew Smith for a 30-yard score in the first quarter and with senior Jason Hoepker on a 38-yard over-the-shoulder snag in the second period, both on plays down the middle of the field, an area the Bobcats targeted. Hoepker had only two catches all season.
"Swingle?" Battlefield senior lineman Zavier Stringfellow said. "He's like a little Peyton Manning. He's going to do big things."
On its first possession of the second half, Richmond-area school Hermitage (13-1) drove 80 yards, all on the ground, with senior Brendon Riddick keeping it on nine of 11 plays, including from six yards out for a touchdown that made it 14-7.
Greene gave Battlefield a 20-7 lead with a 10-yard pass to senior Turner Meeks early in the fourth quarter. Senior linebacker Chris Wendle intercepted a pass with 7 minutes 11 seconds left, and senior Bobo Beathard returned an interception 35 yards for a score with 2:37 remaining.
The Bobcats (13-2) leaned a bit less than usual on senior inside runner Nagee Jackson, giving senior outside threats Terrell Tapscott and Cedric Agyeman a few more touches, and they sacked Hermitage quarterbacks nine times while allowing only one sack of their own. Riddick finished with 115 yards on 33 carries.
"They asked during the week what it was like when I won as a sophomore," Cox said. "I told them I really don't remember because it was such a blur, but I did tell them it was something that they're going to cherish and if they have the opportunity to get to this point they sure as heck don't want to mess it up.
"Can't take it away from them. They'll always have it. There are no better moments in high school than doing that, and I'm glad these guys could do that."