Athlete of the Week: Sherando’s Washington starts season off with a bang
STEPHENS CITY — Some Sherando players had a request for T.J. Washington before the Warriors game with James Wood last Friday — and the junior running back delivered.
He took the opening kickoff 97 yards and returned it for a touchdown, the first of six for him on the night in a 58-8 victory over James Wood.
“Before the game everybody was telling me they want a house call,” Washington said earlier this week. “So I was like all right I got you. And then they gave me the ball and I took it to the house.”
The junior said that he had a few good blocks on the play that really helped him out.
“I paid attention to all the blocking,” Washington said. “That’s why I was able to hit it. And the next thing I know I was going down the sidelines.”
Sherando coach Bill Hall said that the play was all about everyone doing their job. He said they hadn’t seen any film on James Wood’s special teams. He said a couple things just came together to make it work.
“We felt good about our kickoff unit, but there had to be a couple things happen,” Hall said. “One, they had to kick it deep. Sometimes we don’t even get that opportunity. But after that it comes down to assignment football. They did a really good job executing and we got a deep kick. Those are kind of the recipes for success with that.”
Washington, The Northern Virginia Daily’s Athlete of the Week for the week of Aug. 20-26, finished the game with 92 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns.
Washington said he was surprised he was able to score so many times.
“It was exciting,” Washington said. “But at the same time I was just like ‘sheesh, I’m tired. Let’s try something new.’ But coach Hall wanted to run the ball. And that’s what we did and we scored.”
Washington said a lot of credit goes to his offensive line for opening up big holes for him.
He said his favorite rushing touchdown of the night was one in which got a little help from junior fullback JoJo Doleman.
“I had the ball and there was like five people on me,” Washington recalled. “And then JoJo came from behind and just pushed the whole group. And I was like ‘oh wow.’ I was like ‘thank you.’ And I scored and I got up and I shook his hand and we celebrated.”
Washington ran for 1,243 yards last year and had 16 touchdowns in his first varsity season with the Warriors. He said his goal for this season is to run for more yards and have at least 20 scores.
Hall said Washington is just scratching the surface of what he can do as a player.
“He’s done a good job of progressing from when he got here until now,” Hall said. “The scary thing about T.J. is he can progress that much more. He’s a gifted athlete. He’s a special kid. And he’s getting better all the time. So that’s the exciting thing on the field and off.”
Washington had a standout season in track last year. He placed second in the triple jump and ninth in the long jump at the Group 4A state meet.
Washington said that he feels like track helped him become even faster than he was.
Hall said there’s still room for improvement for Washington, but he said he has good work ethic which will help him to get even better.
Hall said he’s got all the ingredients to be successful on the field.
“He’s got great vision. He’s explosive and he’s got great top-end speed,” Hall said. “So those are a great combination. His athleticism is crazy. He can stand here and do a back flip talking to you. He’s pretty athletic. He likes to work so once we go out to practice it’s not like you have to egg him and prod him. He’s a worker by nature.”
Washington said while he has personal goals he mostly just wants the team to be successful this season and make the playoffs. Last year Sherando missed the playoffs with a 5-5 record.
“I just want to go to playoffs, hopefully go to states,” Washington said. “As a team I know we can go far.”