No. 1: William Monroe beats Turner Ashby 3-0 in Group 3A semifinals
Between the stakes, the performance on the mound from Cody Spencer, and on top of everything, the team that William Monroe had to beat, the Group 3A semifinals was as good as it gets in 2015-2016.
After the Dragons fell in the Region 3A East championship game, they got to face the Region 3A West champion and presumed front runner, Turner Ashby. Normally there wouldn’t be so much hype about an opponent but when that opponent has beaten other locals like Monticello and Western Albemarle, well, coaches and players talk. The Dragons went into this game knowing that they were going to have to put together one of their best performances of the season.
That’s exactly what they got. Spencer was brilliant, putting together a 2-hitter in the 3-0 victory. Offensively, the Dragons got a 2-run double from Dylan Shifflett. Then Hunter Foster drove in R.J. Payne on a bases loaded double play. That was more than enough for Spencer and the Monroe defense to finish the job.
The win put Monroe in the state title game, and although they fell 3-2 against Rustburg, the playoff run and upset of Turner Ashby will not be forgotten in Greene County for a long time.
No. 2: Western Albemarle football beats Albemarle, 29-27
No lead is ever safe as long as there’s time on the clock. The Warriors looked like there going to cruise past Albemarle as they built up a 22 point lead. The Patriots had different plans. And were it not for a QB hurry by Osiris Crutchfield that forced an incomplete pass on a 2-point conversion, this game could well have gone into overtime and yielded a different result. Instead, Western hung on to win 29-27.
Paced by Oliver Herndon’s rushing, the Warriors went up 22-0. Herndon had 145 yards and a TD. Michael Vale had a rushing and receiving touchdown. But the only points the Warriors got in the second half were from an interception return from Darren Klein.
Albemarle mounted the comeback behind it’s top playmaker, Tyquan Rose. Thanks to a 66-yard hook and ladder with Charles Hooper and then a kickoff return for a touchdown, the game was back within reach early in the third at 22-14.
After Klein made it 29-14, the Patriots answered with a long drive capped by J’quan Anderson to make it 29-21/ With 11 seconds remaining, Jamal Thompson came up with short rushing TD to set up the potential game tying 2-point convert. It was there that Western came up with the one big stop it needed from its defense.
It was a classic game in a rivalry that’s had some fantastic games recently. For the fourth straight season, this game was a one possession ball game that came right down to the wire. That’s all any fan of either squad could ask for.
No. 3: St. Anne’s-Belfield survives Miller scare in OT, 72-69
It’s a play that will likely haunt Miller for sometime. The Mavericks came into their VISAA Division 2 quarterfinal as underdogs and went punch-for-punch with the Saints. With time winding down in regulation and his team down by two, Chance Sheffrey nailed a shot that looked like it gave Miller a 1-point victory. The shot was ruled a 2-pointer, and instead of giving the Mavericks the win, it sent the game into overtime.
Tyler Creamer and Ron Alston both fouled out in the fourth quarter. As such, Miller’s eight point lead in the final frame slowly but surely was chipped away. And in overtime, St. Anne’s was able to edge Miller, 72-69, with Kareem Johnson, Javin DeLaurier and Jalen Harrison leading the way.
DeLaurier had 21 points and five rebounds, four blocks and three Steals. Johnson finished with 15 points, seven rebounds and three steals. Harrison had 18 points and eight rebounds. On the other side for Miller, Sheffey had 22 points while Alston had 16.
It was a huge win for STAB as it put their vaunted Class of 2016 in the state final four for the first time. It was also a herculean effort from Miller. The Mavericks more than rose to the occasion with their effort, gave Central Virginia fans the most exciting game of the basketball season.
No. 4: Woodberry Forest football beats Bullis 66-65 in overtime
This one speaks for itself in the numbers. With the game knotted at 59-59 going into OT, the Tigers beat the Bulldogs thanks to a big stop on defense on a 2-pt covert and then an Evans Riviere rushing touchdown to tie the game. In the end it was a Wyatt Alexander PAT that proved the difference to give Woodberry a 66-65 win.
There was never more than a touchdown difference between quarters, this one was as even and balanced as it gets. The first half was tied. The Tigers led by a touchdown going into the fourth, but Bullis made it up and forced OT.
Let’s run down the numbers here. Quarterback Lindell Stone was 25-for-38 passing with 290 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions. Terrell Jana caught seven passes for 132 yards, and two scores. Zach Roderick had nine catches for 72 yards and two TDs. Riviere had 26 carries for 155 yards and three touchdowns.
On the other side, Woodberry had its hands full trying to stop QB Dwayne Haskins. The future Ohio State Buckeye was 29-for-44 passing with 442 yards and seven TDs. He also had 12 carries for 63 yards.
However, with all the offense, given Woodberry’s tradition on defense, it seemed only fitting that that unit would come up with a stop when they needed it. With Bullis looking to go up by eight as they struggled with PATs, Tigers defensive back Logi Portgual came up with a tackle for a loss on the play and allowed Riviere and Alexander to close out the game on the other side of things.
No. 5: Albemarle girls soccer beats Briar Woods 1-0
So many times, so many heart breaks. The Patriots have been the cream of the crop in Central Virginia in girls soccer for the better part of a decade. Cruising through the regular season has become a pastime activity for this program. But getting through to the state tournament has been has proved quite elusive for Albemarle. Not so this year.
Having pounded Thomas Jefferson in the first round of the Region 5A North tournament, the real test was the next round. Facing Briar Woods in the semifinals, the Patriots stood behind their ever staunch defense and pitched a 1-0 win against a strong Falcons squad.
It was the Patriots 18th consecutive shutout on the season (yes, you read that right). Albemarle’s defense was next to perfect all year and it was its best against Briar Woods. Despite a minor scare with goalie Ayanah Tyler-Cooper going down for a moment because of injury, this defensive unit was able to mark Briar Woods at every step. On the other side of the field, Sunny Gelnovatch’s breakout season reached its climax when the senior cleaned up the mess off a corner shot early in the second half. It was all the Patriots needed.
Beating Briar Woods was a landmark win for Albemarle. And while the Patriots fell in the Group 5A final four to eventual state champs Mills Godwin, beating Briar Woods and getting through Region 5A play was something that’s been in the works for a long time. And with so many underclassmen contributing this year, the Patriots should be in place to make another run quite soon.
No. 6: Western Albemarle boys soccer beats Blacksburg 2-1
Frankly, if Western Albemarle and Blacksburg end up playing for state and region titles every other year (or every year) for the next decade, it wouldn’t be surprising, but it would certainly test the hearts of each program’s faithful. Each time the Bruins and Warriors have clashed in the last three years (twice for state titles, twice region championships) there seems to be more than just a splash of drama. This year’s second meeting was one of the best installments yet, with a set piece goal with less than 15 minutes on the clock, pushing the Warriors ahead. It wasn’t quite the epic that came down to penalty kicks in 2014, but this was the well-played, hard-nosed soccer we’ve come to expect when the two top programs in Group 3A lock horns. It also featured some of the same heroes as the 2014 clash, with Jake Paulson coming up big and Collin Moore fighting through sickness to help the Warriors. But new faces also came up in big ways with Carrington Murphy scoring the Warriors’ first goal and Jon Whyte making save after save as well as sophomore Jed Strickland notching the game-winner off the combination of a Paulson corner and a Daniel Forsman header. Plus, it ended with two state titles in three seasons and capped a year where the Warriors had to dig deep several times to keep moving forward. That’s about all anyone could ask from a state championship game.
No. 7: Albemarle boys soccer beats Falls Church 1-0 in Group 5A state title game
A couple of years ago, Western Albemarle’s Forrest Whitaker missed a PK in a state championship game and then got redemption later in the game with a game-clinching goal. Whitaker had to wait for a shootout. This year, Albemarle’s Brendan Moyers didn’t have to wait that long for his own similar redemption. Just six minutes into the second half, after missing a penalty kick in the first half, Moyers netted what stood up as the game-winner, with the Patriots’ defense holding on from there with an incredible effort highlighted by a series of saves by Jake Gelnovatch. It was a rematch of a 2-1 Region 5A North final that was worthy of a state championship as Falls Church made an incredible effort throughout while the Patriots withstood the onslaught and managed to keep the pressure on the Jaguars on offense with a couple of Michael Vaughn opportunities just missing. It ended a 21-1 campaign that called for some serious mental toughness from Albemarle to preserve that sterling record and stay alive. It also capped the careers of several seniors who’d been a part of the Patriots’ 2014 state championship group. It was a tremendous finish to an incredible campaign.
No. 8: Buckingham football beats Goochland 35-21
Sure, there were closer games for both teams this season. There have even been closer, more hotly contested games in the rivalry in recent years. But when one team erases nearly 12 years of frustration in an instant? That’s a pretty special game. Buckingham County’s football team had accomplished a great deal over the last decade, ranging from a state final four run to a string of double digit win seasons. But since 2004, when most players for the Knights were just in preschool, Buckingham hadn’t been able to beat James River District powerhouse Goochland. But in early October, the Knights found a way to end that streak, upending Goochland. It was a game for football purists, won in the trenches with Michael Mabry putting together a Herculean effort up front for the Knights, helping shut down Goochland’s rushing attack. It became a particularly poetic victory when head coach Craig Gill stepped down during the offseason, retiring after a long, successful career at the helm. He told his squad to “come out here and make a memory tonight.” They did just that.
No. 9 Western Albemarle girls lacrosse beats Monticello 15-14 in triple overtime
With the Charlottesville Conference girls lacrosse championship on the line in late May, neither Western Albemarle nor Monticello played like they had anything beyond that night guaranteed, even though both squads had earned region berths by virtue of conference semifinal wins. Instead, the two squads engaged in a thriller, with Western first building a 9-4 lead before Monticello — or more accurately Summer Larese who scored five straight — stormed back to tie the game at 9-9. From there it was a back-and-forth battle, eventually moving to overtime when Kendall Wallin scored with 13 seconds left to tie the game at 14-14. After two scoreless overtime periods, Western Albemarle got the game-winner from a bloodied but undeterred Sammie Magargee. The Warriors went on to advance to the state semifinals while the Mustangs lost in heartbreaking fashion again a few days later in the region semifinals against Salem. But that clash in Crozet, that’s the one that stands out.
No. 10 Western Albemarle football falls 85-79 to Staunton River
If this list was about the 10 most talked about games of the year, there’s a good chance this would be No. 1. The way this Western Albemarle defense — one that had been solid if not spectacular during the season — suddenly couldn’t make a stop against Staunton River’s single wing offense was crazy. The way the Warriors’ offense found another gear after a year-long plan of trying to control the clock and possession while also putting up a lot of points was just as crazy. Both teams raced up and down the field, totaling 23 touchdowns and 164 points between them. It was the most ever in the 100+ year history of Virginia High School football between two VHSL squads. Sam Hearn threw for 569 yards and five touchdowns on 33-for-51 passing. Derek Domecq had 15 catches for 263 yards and three touchdowns in the loss. Staunton River’s T.J. Tester and Grayson Overstreet rushed for 273 yards and 236 yards respectively and eight touchdowns between them. It was one of the most out-of-control games in recent memory.
STAB girls basketball beats St. Catherine’s 62-60 in LIS clash
Blue Ridge boys basketball beats STAB 62-51
Woodberry football ties Episcopal 14-14
Fork Union football beats Collegiate 24-22
Charlottesville boys lacrosse beats Monticello 16-15 in overtime
Western boys lacrosse beats Hanover 20-18 to win Region championship
Albemarle girls lacrosse beats Western 12-11 in OT
Albemarle boys basketball beats Hampton 65-54
Albemarle girls lacrosse beats Deep Run 13-12 in overtime
Orange County vs. Louisa County softball, 8-6 first meeting
Fluvanna girls lacrosse beats Charlottesville 8-7