By Drew Goodman / Scrimmageplaycva.com contributor
The old cliche, “You are what your record is” does not accurately describe the Petersburg football team.
Yes, the Crimson Wave entered Friday night’s 3A East opening round playoff clash with William Monroe with a record of 3-7, but being .300 does not tell the whole story.
Petersburg is one of just two 3A schools in its district, and must compete annually against 3A, 4A and 5A state powerhouses like Dinwiddie, Monacan, Hopewell, and Thomas Dale, with an additional non-district tilt with James Monroe this season.
Friday’s contest in Standardsville marked one of Crimson Wave’s few chances to pick on somebody their own size, and the visitors relished the opportunity.
Petersburg, behind a 30-0 run between the second and third quarters, cruised by William Monroe 51-14 to keep its 2016 campaign alive.
The Crimson Wave (4-7) will travel to Hopewell next week, while the Dragons’ season comes to an end with a record of 6-5.
Petersburg wasted little time displaying their elite team speed on both sides of the ball. The Crimson Wave defense harassed Monroe quarterback Malique Shackelford in the backfield, while the offense piled on 14 quick points.
The first quarter marked one of Petersburg’s best quarters of the entire season. The Crimson Wave had grown accustomed to playing from behind, as a result of a poor start against quality competition, and Friday was a nice change of pace for head coach Mike Scott.
“We’re 3-7, but we’re one of the best 3-7 seems that you’ll see,” said Scott. “The Central District is tough and it really prepared us. Looking at our schedule, we might not be as good as the other teams, but we always play hard, and people kind of sleep on us because of the record, but we have a tough group of kids and we’re just trying to build.”
William Monroe trimmed the deficit to just seven points, following an 86-yard dash from Shackelford in the second quarter, but the Dragons struggled to keep pace with the speedy Crimson Wave all night.
Petersburg quarterback Stanley Davis racked up 205 yards of total offense, and three touchdowns. Davis used his legs to make life difficult for the Dragon defense. The senior was able to move out of the pocket throughout the game, and rushed for his two touchdowns on a pair of fourth down and long attempts.
While the first quarter represented one of the Crimson Wave’s most complete frames of the season, the opening 12 minutes were a complete disaster for William Monroe for a number of different reasons.
In addition to trailing by two scores, the Dragons lost a trio of defenders due to three separate game-ending injuries. Fullback/linebacker Greg Sizemore broke his hand and fellow linebacker Dylan Madison injured his knee, while defensive end Titus Carpenter suffered an injury to his shoulder.
The three absences were noticeable, particularly on the defensive side, especially when Davis was able to roll out and turn busted plays into big gains on the ground.
“Losing two ‘backers and a D-end against that speed and trying to put in guys who haven’t played there all year, it hurt,” said William Monroe head coach Jon Rocha. “We lost angles when we lost them. Greg, containing… he knows how to keep people contained against speed. [Middle linebacker Rayquone Wayne] is in the middle, but we lost our two outside linebackers who have those angles. [Davis] is a great athlete and he kept getting outside on us… We didn’t have those angles and he took advantage of it.”
“[Petersburg] had speed everywhere. It wasn’t just one player. With Charlottesville and Culpeper, we are able to narrow it down, but Petersburg had speed everywhere and they were all fast.”
The Crimson Wave outgained William Monroe 462-158 on the night. The Greene Dragons finished the contest with just six passing yards.
Shackelford did all that he could to keep William Monroe in the contest. In his final game in a Greene Dragon uniform, Shackelford rushed 18 times for a net-gain of 127 yards, and two touchdowns.
The first score came off of the exhilarating 84 yard run on the first play of a drive, which pulled Monroe to within a touchdown at 14-7.
The excitement was short-lived on the home side however, as the Crimson Wave responded with a methodical 15-play 85 yard scoring drive, which set the table for how the rest of the game played out.
Friday night marked the conclusion of William Monroe’s second playoff campaign in the last three years.
The Greene Dragons closed the regular season by winning four of their final five games, including the program’s fourth consecutive triumph over rival Madison County. William Monroe placed third in its final year in the Bull Run District. The Dragons finished behind only a pair of 9-2 teams in the standings, in Clarke County and Central Woodstock.
Though the Friday night lights have dimmed in Standardsville until next fall, Rocha is proud of all that his program achieved in 2016.
“The players are excited… they know they had a great year,” said Rocha. “I told them tonight that there’s only going to be one team in 3A that doesn’t feel what we feel tonight. Eventually, every team but one is going to feel this way; you don’t want it to be right now, but it happened.”
“We made huge strides and I couldn’t be happier with this group of guys. We lost a lot from a couple of years ago, and these guys put a lot of the work in to reap the rewards. A winning season is nothing to scoff at.”