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Sherando rolls past Patriots

By Jeremy Stafford - jstafford@nvdaily.com

STEPHENS CITY -- The Sherando locker room Friday night shook with the booming of hip-hop music, blaring from a small two-speaker radio.

Rumor has it a few of the Warriors were even dancing.

So it goes after a 41-6 thumping and rattling of the Washington (W.Va.) Patriots. So it goes after peeling off 365 total rushing yards, the bulk of which came from only two players. So it goes after scoring 20 points in the second quarter, and averaging more than two points every minute Sherando held the ball.

Sherando quarterback Jalen Brisco, playing for the first time this season because a tweaked groin relegated him to the sidelines for two weeks, played splendidly.

In all, Brisco accounted for 17 yards passing and 129 yards rushing.

And each time he spoke, Brisco shook and smiled, refreshed, it seemed, by a renewed swagger.

Playing football, after all, is meant to be fun.

"Going out before the game, I was so focused," Brisco said. "As soon as I got on the field it was the best feeling ever.

Here's how Brisco decides to run rather than throw: "I just go off instincts," he said. "If I don't see anything, I just run."

He shook. He smiled.

But if Brisco brought a new dynamic to Sherando's offense, Joseph Ojo brought a consistent one.

The junior had only 12 carries, yet blazed up and down the sidelines for 196 yards. He scored four touchdowns. He didn't shake when he spoke -- Ojo's swagger is left in a pile on the field.

But his smile was with him.

"When the coaches call my number and they call a running play, I'm excited to just go in there and run the ball and help the team out as much as I can," Ojo said. "I was just happy tonight that I had a good game ... but I knew I could improve more.

"There's stuff in this game I shouldn't have done, and stuff I need to work on so I can get even better."

Perhaps. After three games, Ojo's been allotted 54 carries, and he's rushed for 432 yards.

On Friday, under the blazing Sherando lights, Ojo's touchdown runs went like this: an 11-yard run, an 84-yard run, a 54-yard run, a 5-yard run.

Following Ojo's second scoring sprint, Sherando fullback Kevin Vallejos panted back to the sideline. He tried to speak, but the words spilled from his mouth faster than he could shape them. He was tired. He, too, had just sprinted 84 yards.

But maybe the most thrilling part of Sherando's performance Friday night came on the defensive end: Two weeks after giving up three touchdowns in the fourth quarter to Park View, the Sherando defense held strong when Washington squeaked into its red zone on its final two possessions.

Washington's first chance ended when Patriots wideout Markee Smith caught a pass out of bounds on a fourth-and-13; Washington's second chance ended when the clock ran out.

Eventually, the Sherando locker room quieted. The dancing stopped. The two-speaker radio was turned off. The end of one game week brings with it the start of another. And on Thursday, Sherando travels to Loudoun County, a playoff team a year ago.

"I think the most important thing is, mentally we've got to be ready," Sherando coach Bill Hall said of the Warriors' game with the Raiders. "For our guys, 90 percent of that is just mental, making sure we know what we're doing, playing sound football, being fundamental.

"For us, as long as we can get our guys mentally ready to go, I think we'll be all right on Thursday night."


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