By David Wagner
Western’s varsity football team had a busy October with five games on the schedule, including all three local rivals, Albemarle, Monticello and Charlottesville.
The Warriors hosted Albemarle for their Jefferson District home opener, entering the game undefeated. Junior quarterback Sam Hearn capped off the opening drive with a 6-yard touchdown run, followed by a 2-yard scoring run to give Western an early 8-0 lead. The Patriots would then put together a scoring drive of their own, going 62 yards in 15 plays to kick a field goal and make the score 8-3. But Western would answered quickly. In just three plays the Warriors put the ball in the end zone. The Patriots scored on the next possession and Western led 15-9 at the half.
The pace of the game slowed in the second half, but Western managed to keep control behind the strong running of Oliver Herndon and stingy defense. Each team scored one touchdown in the half and the Warriors came away with a 23-17 win. Herndon (20 carries, 157 yards rushing, 2 TDs) was the key player of the game.
Next the Warriors traveled to Louisa. The Lions took advantage of Western turnovers and scored touchdowns on their first five possessions to take a commanding 32-6 halftime lead. Hearn found wide receiver Michael Vale for a 38-yard pass play to the Louisa 1 yard line, before punching it into the end zone for a touchdown run. Louisa countered with a 67-yard touchdown drive and never look back. Turnovers plagued the Warriors in the second half and the Lions rolled to a 56-26 win, giving Western their first loss of the season. Louisa amassed 377 yards of total offense, all on the ground. They only attempted one pass the entire game.
On the 17th the Warriors came back home to take on archrival Monticello. Having won only one of the five previous meetings between the two teams, Western was poised for a big win in front of the Homecoming crowd. It was an exciting, back and forth first half with two lead changes and six turnovers. Monticello scored a touchdown with just over 50 seconds left in the second quarter to tie the game 20-20 at the half.
In the third quarter, Western seized the momentum. The Warrior defense forced a three and out on the Mustangs initial possession, setting the tone. The Warrior offense went on a 60-yard touchdown drive to reclaim the lead 27-20. The defense (led by tackle Osiris Crutchfield) then gave the ball back to the offense. Once again the Warrior offense scored on a 43-yard drive. Holland Corbett was good on a 34-yard field goal attempt, giving Western a 30-20 lead. Monticello answered with a field goal cutting the Warrior lead back to 7 points.
Following the Monticello field goal, Travis Daly returned the kickoff 89 yards down the right sideline, breaking tackles and making defenders miss. Herndon scored on a 7-yard run and Corbett’s extra point kick was good. Warriors 37, Mustangs 23. After stopping Monticello on fourth down for the second time in a row, the Warrior offense took over. Herndon scored on the first play again and extended Western’s lead to three touchdowns, 44-23. Monticello scored two late TDs, but it wasn’t enough. The Warriors won, 44-37.
Herndon finished the game with 179 yards rushing and 2 TDs on 16 carries. Hearn added 145 total yards on 9 for 18 passing. As a unit, the defense was good enough to win, and they had a huge impact on the tempo of the game in the second half.
On the 24th, the Warriors hosted the Charlottesville Black Knights for their final home game. Western was too much for Charlottesville on both sides of the ball and won 28-7. The Warriors took a 14-0 lead into the half on touchdown runs by Herndon and Hearn. The defense was stellar, allowing only 50 yards of offense and two first downs in the half. Crutchfield blocked a field goal attempt by CHS late in the first quarter.
CHS scored on the opening drive of the second half but that was it. Hearn, playing at defensive back, ended Charlottesville’s last three drives with interceptions.
Next the Warriors traveled to Powhatan to take on the Indians with a chance to nab a first place tie in the Jefferson District. The undefeated Indians are led by running back Logan Allen and he almost single-handedly beat the Warriors. Allen finished the game with 5 touchdowns and 350 yards from scrimmage as Powhatan routed the Warriors 53-16 on Halloween night. With exceptional speed and quickness, Allen scored on runs of 47, 44, 43 and 36 yards and also scored on a 25-yard reception. He had 303 yards rushing on 28 carries and 47 yards receiving on two catches.
It was the second loss of the month for Western, giving the Warriors a 7-2 mark overall, 4-2 in the district. Western will travel to Fluvanna this Friday (Nov. 7) for their final regular season game. With a win the Warriors would be 8-2 and most likely be at home for a first round playoff game in the 3A West Region Playoffs.
A number of first year starters and young players have stepped up this season. For the month, Hearn ran for 303 yards, 6 TDs and passed for 601 yards and 4 TDs. Wide receiver Vale had 8 catches for 133 yards. Henry Kreinenbaum had 5 catches for 109 yards and 1 TD while battling a shoulder injury. Freshmen Derek Domecq had 9 catches for 157 yards and 2 TD’s. Wide receiver Scott Grover had 6 catches for 109 yards and 1 TD and second-year starter Herndon had 542 yards rushing, 76 yards receiving and 8 TDs in October.
Defensively the Warriors are led by Crutchfield, who has 55 tackles (42 solo), 6 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and a blocked field goal on the season. Crutchfield has created havoc at the line of scrimmage. Michael Mullin is second on the team in tackles with 41 (31 solo) and 7 tackles for loss. Matthew Mullin is third with 30 tackles (19 solo) and 1.5 tackles for loss. Logan Sprouse has added 30 tackles and Herndon is fifth on the team in tackles with 29.
If they can figure out a way to slow down teams with a potent running game, they could advance in the playoffs. This team has exceeded expectations. Now the question is, can they take it a step further?