Strasburg program keeps taking positive steps

ORANGE — Just one step away.

Strasburg’s season came to an end on Saturday in a 53-42 loss to Prince Edward County in the Region 2A East semifinals leaving the Rams a step away from the state tournament. Despite the loss, it was a very positive and strong season for the Rams.

“Those kids have nothing to hang their head about,” Strasburg coach Matt Hiserman said. “They went toe-to-toe for 3 1/2 quarters. …They proved that we belonged to be here.”

The Rams went 22-7 this season and advanced to the regional semis for the first time since 2001. The Rams advanced to the state tournament in back-to-back years in 1999 and 2000.

The program had some down years, but has come back strong in the last few seasons. Two years ago in former longtime coach Millson French’s final year as head coach Strasburg advanced to the regional tournament and won 18 contests.

Last year the Rams won a game in regionals and also win 18 games. This year the Rams took yet another step in the right direction advancing to the regional semis and winning 22 games.

“It’s been like stepping stones, building our program back up and getting the program back to where it needs to be,” Strasburg senior Noah St. Clair said.

St. Clair, Ryan Smoot and Mark Smoot are the only seniors on this year’s team, and Hiserman said their leadership will really be missed.

The three seniors have been part of a lot of success with Strasburg’s athletic teams over the last three years, including a run to the state finals last year in baseball. The three have played on the varsity basketball squad since they were sophomores.

“The leadership that Ryan, Noah and Mark bring to the table is just phenomenal,” Hiserman said. “The biggest thing next year is finding a kid who wants to step up and be a leader. You got to be a leader more than just in the game. You got to be a leader in the locker room. You got to be a leader in practice. Those kids come to practice every day, and they bring it every day — those three kids. If our guys can step up and be willing to do that, we can have a bright future.”

The Rams had a young squad this season, but didn’t let that hold them back. Strasburg finished second in the Bull Run District. In the postseason the Rams had back-to-back quality wins over Wilson Memorial and last year’s state finalist Bruton.

The Rams fought hard against Prince Edward County as well, and Ryan Smoot said the season was a great one for the young squad.

“These four months I think we’ve really grown, and I think the younger guys can really look forward to coming back next year,” Ryan Smoot said.

Strasburg should return nine players from this year’s squad, and if the Rams can keep taking one step at a time in the program a trip to Richmond next year for the state tournament could be in their sights.

“I think they’ll be fine,” Ryan Smoot said. “They’re going to have to work hard like always. They’ve got a ton of talent, probably more talent than we’ve had in a long time. We’re going to be rooting for them — the three of us that are leaving and everybody. We’re going to be hoping that they can get to Richmond next year.”

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com