Keeler: Defeat does not diminish season

LYNCHBURG — The scoreboard read 56-14, Dinwiddie. The tears on the Sherando players’ faces on the field after the game said how much it hurt to lose in Saturday’s Class 4A state final, but there’s no question the loss doesn’t take away from a great year for the football team.

Sherando had won 12 consecutive games after falling to Martinsburg (W.Va.) in the second game of the season. They won the Northwestern District title and earned the top seed in the 4A North region. They showed lots of grit and determination in a playoff run that took them all the way to Lynchburg to play against a very talented Dinwiddie squad.

“It’s a game and we lost it today,” Sherando coach Bill Hall said. “Those guys did a really good job, Dinwiddie did, but we’re proud of the way our guys represented Sherando, our community and our school. Couldn’t be more proud of them. You gotta play great football to win a state championship. And we just didn’t play our best football today, but it doesn’t take anything away from who these guys are and what they represent and what they invested into the program.

The Warriors started out strong, but things quickly slipped away as Dinwiddie pulled ahead for good.

Despite the score getting away from them, Sherando senior George Aston said he was proud of the way the team kept fighting and stuck together just like they had all season.

“We never gave up, no matter how much we were losing by today,” Aston said. “That’s a big thing for us, is just always playing with heart and passion. And that’s what defined us this year, and we’ll never give in. I just tried to keep my teammates up the whole game, kept telling them to keep playing with the heart we’ve played with all year. And it just didn’t work out for us in the end today.”

Sherando did play with heart and passion all season as they used a balanced offense and a fierce defense to go 9-1 in the regular season. They had plenty of lopsided games, but in the playoffs the Warriors really showed what they were made of.

The Warriors rallied to knock off Courtland, 27-20, making some key plays in the fourth quarter to secure the win. In the state semifinals, they again made big plays when they needed to, especially on defense, to pull out a 7-0 victory over Salem.

One of the most important things the team did this season was simply come together as a team, and a big part of that came from their senior leadership.

The Warriors had 20 seniors on this year’s squad, and the realization that their high school career is over was hurt the most after the game.

“It’s our last time playing with each other — that’s the hardest part,” Sherando senior Reid Entsminger said. “It’s not the loss itself, it’s like losing your teammates — your brothers.”

Sherando finished it’s season 13-2 and advanced to the state final for the fourth time in school history. There was certainly plenty to be proud about, and Hall said that one loss doesn’t change the things that are really important.

“The game didn’t turn out the way we wanted it to, but it doesn’t take away from the relationships that we have,” Hall said. “I told these guys coming in here the most important things in life aren’t things. You can’t take away the relationship that we have or they have. Obviously, they would have loved to have won the game, but that trophy won’t mean anything to them. The relationships those guys have will mean everything to them.”

Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com Follow on Twitter @tkeelernvd