By Jerry Reid
Last Friday night at a home game, the Western Albemarle football team looked upbeat and ready to secure their fate regarding the playoffs and maybe even a home game in the regionals. But the Charlottesville Black Knights’ big plays late in the game ruined those WAHS hopes in a 56-35 loss.
When they roll into Albemarle High School this Friday night for the regular season finale, the best the Warriors can finish now in the Jefferson District is 4-3. Albemarle, coming off of a thrilling 17-15 victory over Monticello, can finish 6-1 in the district if Western isn’t ready to win. The Warriors will need a four-quarter effort like the first half of the Charlottesville game to finish with some momentum on their side.
It was an emotional Senior Night game for kicker Andreas McCullough, all-around player Peter Slechta, Victor Becerra (receiver and defensive back), Tareek Washington, Chris Valente, Noah Yourkavitch, Tristan Ingersoll, defensive leader Noah Crutchfield, linebacker Peter Buetow, co-captain Ryan Adcock, Mark Henley, Luke White, Dylan Hahn, and Trayanov Lyubo. On a bittersweet, chilly night, this group of Warriors likely had played their last home game.
The sophomore leader to start the game was Jack Weyher. He zipped down the left sideline with 9:44 left in the first quarter after snaring a Derek Domecq pass. He caught two other passes on the opening drive, with Becerra adding a timely catch. Darren Klein added runs to help put the Warriors up 6-0. But Charlottesville answered with a rushing score despite the defensive efforts of Joey Bowen, Jarrett Smith, Klein, and others.
The Warriors stumbled on the first two plays of their next drive, but Klein, Domecq and Yourkavitch mixed passes and runs from there, with Klein pounding the Charlottesville defensive line for a six-yard TD dash and a 13-6 lead with 4:22 left. Charlottesville answered despite brilliant defensive work by the Warriors’ Luke Tenuta and ran for another TD as the first quarter expired, taking a 14-13 lead with a 2-point conversion.
The Warriors opened the second quarter with a turnover on downs after a spotty drive that sputtered out. The Black Knights took over on their 22, but a Smith tackle stopped them, leaving them with fourth-and-five at their 21. A fake kick caught the Warriors off guard, and Lorenzo Louderback bolted up the middle on a pass play that ended 79 yards later in the end zone. Missing a two-point try, Charlottesville led 20-13.
Still sputtering, the Warriors punted the ball on the next series and the Black Knights took over only to see Weyher come up with a highlight reel interception. The Warriors started a grinding drive that ended with a two-yard carry by Domecq for a score, followed by his two-point run that put the Warriors on top 21-20.
Next Charlottesville found itself facing a third-and-four at their 35 after an Adcock stop. Weyher again intercepted a Rakeem Davis pass to close out the first half.
Charlottesville opened the second half and, helped by a face-mask penalty, ran for big chunks of turf, punching in a score from the three yard line to take a 26-21 lead after a missed PAT kick. The Warriors struggled to answer that score and punted with less than six minutes left in the third. Charlottesville jumped on the opportunity, breaking off a 65-yard run up the middle by Sabias Folley, and lead 34-21 after Louderback notched a two-point run.
The next two drives revived the hopes of the Crozet Crazies with Klein running and Domecq throwing. Big penalties against Charlottesville helped mightily on the first drive, and Domecq found Yourkavitch down the left sideline for a 13-yard scoring play, and a good PAT kick left the score at 34-28 for Charlottesville. The Black Knights were stopped cold on their next possession after McCullough kicked into the Charlottesville end zone and the Weyher-Crutchfield duo led a strong defense.
The Warriors started deep in Charlottesville territory and used Klein’s feet and Domecq’s arm to strike with a 14-yard TD toss to Aidan Saunders. With time running out in the third period, WAHS was up 35-34. But the lead was painfully short-lived. Charlottesville unleashed another big running play, this time Davis ran 67 yards for the TD and then tacked on a two-point conversion.
Charlottesville was up 42-35 and despite good defense from Saunders, Adcock, and others, used their running power to stretch the lead to a final margin of 56-35.