By Jeremy Stafford - firstname.lastname@example.org
STEPHENS CITY -- Conventional wisdom says that good fortune comes from being in the right place at the right time, then taking advantage of the given circumstances.
On third-and-goal from the Park View 4-yard line, the seconds until halftime dripping off the clock, Sherando quarterback Lucas Tunison was swarmed by white-clad defensive linemen. Another lineman hung around his ankles.
According to conventional wisdom, Tunison was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Yet somehow Tunison managed to take advantage of what little he was given.
He fell toward the grass so slowly it seemed as though he fell through water; and then Warriors junior James Worker, drifting through the back of the end zone, popped into Tunison's line of vision.
Tunison lobbed a pass to Worker, and Worker tapped his feet through the Sherando grass.
It was the Warriors' third touchdown of the night in what eventually became a 35-32 Sherando win over Park View.
Tunison celebrated his first-ever touchdown pass by prancing quickly off the field, sending his knees as high as his legs allowed.
The nerves buzzing inside Tunison at the game's onset were obviously gone.
"I was a little nervous at the beginning, but coach [Bill] Hall has been coaching me up real good," Tunison said. "It just feels good to go out there and start the season off with a win."
But the win was very nearly a loss.
Both teams combined for 31 points through the first three quarters, then combined to score 36 points in the final quarter.
After trading punts to begin the fourth act, Sherando tailback Tre Porter punched in a 1-yard score, and Park View responded with a 30-yard touchdown pass from Alec Dombkowski to Ryan McCarter.
Park View's two-point conversion made the score 28-18, and the teams traded another pair of touchdowns.
Park View capped the night with its third score of the quarter, a 31-yard pass from Dombkowski to wideout Ben Pick.
Had Sherando not boasted a comfortable lead for three quarters, Park View's fourth-quarter binge might have put an awful scar on Sherando's night.
"You got a frenzied pace out there, and then you got guys in new situations, and then you got guys that are backing up guys in new situations," Hall explained. "I think there's a lot of things that go into that, but that's the situation you're in.
"I think that's why it's critical you gotta have that next-man-up mentality -- when one person's out, the next person's gotta come in, and you're expecting that same level of execution."
But if the defense didn't execute well in the fourth quarter, it certainly did in the first half. Park View scored on its second possession on a 10-play drive, but that was about all the Patriots could muster against the Warriors' defense.
Sherando's offense, on the other hand, was exceptional throughout. The Warriors turned two misplayed Patriots punts into touchdowns, and Tunison hit six different receivers for 87 yards.
Porter rushed for 42 yards and two touchdowns, came out of the game with cramps toward the end of the fourth quarter, and gave way to Joseph Ojo.
After a 53-yard run to score Sherando's final touchdown, Ojo trotted off the field with a game-high 123 yards and two touchdowns to his name.
Porter said he's known for nearly a year that he and Ojo were bound to trouble defenses as a strong-willed, fleet-footed tandem.
"I knew it last year," Porter said. "[Ojo's] a dangerous back because when he hits somebody, he'll give you a blow, and then he'll keep going."