Western Tops Blazers, 23-15
CROZET – Standing on crutches with his right foot wrapped in ice moments after Spotswood High School’s season-opening football game, Trailblazers senior Khalil Davis wore a look of dejection befitting of a playoff defeat.
Slowly, though, as SHS coach Chris Dodson and a handful of assistants addressed their players following Friday night’s 23-15 loss to Western Albemarle, Davis’ stone-faced look eventually transitioned into a tiny smile.
Yes, the Blazers had started slow and ultimately fell into too big of a deficit to rally back and avoid a third loss in three seasons to the Warriors.
But Dodson told his players he remained convinced that what he saw on this night was still the start of a “championship run” for his group.
“Not to say that we’re the same team as last year,” junior quarterback Zach Polglase said in reference to last season’s 9-2 playoff-qualifying SHS squad, “but losing last year to the same team [Western] I think brought us together. And I think it will do exactly that this year.”
During SHS’s final drive, in which the Blazers drove to Western’s 31-yard-line in search of a tying score before turning the ball over on downs with less than two minutes to play, Davis was injured after being pushed out of bounds on a pass play.
After the game, SHS’s most versatile weapon said he’d been told by the team’s training staff that he suffered an ankle sprain, but neither he nor Dodson seemed concerned the injury would result in significant time missed going forward.
“He’s like a pokemon, man,” Dodson said. “Knock him out, and he just bounces back the next time. He’s got a high energy level and he’s a tough nut to crack, so he’ll be back. He’ll be fine.”
Junior tailback Oliver Herndon paced Western with 161 yards on 17 carries – highlighted by his 81-yard breakaway score down the right sideline early in the fourth quarter. That touchdown extended Western’s lead to 23-9 with 7 minutes, 22 seconds to go in regulation.
“He’s an athlete,” Western coach Ed Redmond said of Herndon. “He’s a junior, but he’s been with us since his freshman year, so he’s got some experience. … Once he gets his shoulders going north-south, he’s tough. He’s a tough kid.”
Henry Kreinenbaum, another Western junior, also provided some explosive offensive in the Warriors’ spread attack. He scored twice – once on a 42-yard run and again on a 67-yard catch from Sam Hearn – en route to totaling 135 yards on seven touches.
“He made some plays on film, but it wasn’t like anything like what he was doing tonight,” Davis said of Herndon, who is listed at 6-foot-2, 186 pounds. “… I knew he was fast just from watching film, honestly. But he had that first step on me and at times I just couldn’t catch him.”
Spotswood fell behind 10-0 midway through the first quarter, produced just 26 yards of first-half offense and entered the fourth quarter trailing 17-3.
Sophomore tailback Brady Dodson took a majority of SHS’s carries, finishing with 66 yards on 15 rushes. Dodson scored on a 1-yard TD run to cap an eight-play drive to start the fourth.
That started a run of three scores – two by Spotswood – over the next 1:36, with the sequence ending when Davis took a backfield pitch and connected with a wide-open Andrew McDaniel for a 69-yard touchdown pass to pull SHS within 23-15.
But the Blazers’ next possession ended in a Polglase interception. Despite forcing consecutive Western three-and-out possessions, SHS was never able to draw even.
“You got to believe,” Chris Dodson said. “Again, if your coach doesn’t believe in you, who’s going to believe in you? So we did some great things tonight. If you take away the fact that we started slow … and take two big plays away from ‘em, we win the ball game.”
Spotswood 0 0 3 12 – 15
Western 10 0 7 6 – 23
WA-Kreienbaum 42 run (Corbett kick), 8:53
WA-Corbett FG 29, 6:01
SHS-DiPaolo FG 28, 6:25
WA-Kreienbaum 67 pass from Hearn, 5:29
SHS-Dodson 1 run (kick failed), 8:41
WA-Herndon 81 run (pass failed), 7:22
SHS-McDaniel 69 pass from Davis (kick failed), 7:05)
First Downs 11 8
Rushes-Yards 27-131 37-297
Passing Yards 144 77
Total Yards 275 374
Comp-Att-Int 5-19-1 2-9-0
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 0-0
Punts 4-29.0 6-37.3
RUSHING-Spotswood: Dodson 15-66, Soard 3-9, Davis 3-14, Shull 6-42. Western-Herndon 17-161, Kreinenbaum 4-58, Hearn 13-53, Domecq 2-5, Meeks 2-19.
PASSING-Spotswood: Polglase 4-18-1-72, Davis 1-1-0-69. Western: Hearn 2-9-0-77.
RECEIVING-Spotswood: McDaniel 2-105, Dodson 2-4, Davis 1-32. Western: Kreinenbaum 2-77.