ASHBURN — After starting the season 0-3, the Sherando football team had a tremendous finish, winning five of its last seven games to claim the fourth and final playoff spot out of the Class 4 Northwestern District.
Sherando's reward for making the postseason? A trip to face powerful Dulles District champion Broad Run.
The Spartans led 21-0 after 13 minutes and never looked back, knocking off Sherando 41-13 Friday night in the Region 4C quarterfinals.
With the win, the Spartans (10-1) advance to the semifinals and will be home next Friday night against the winner of Saturday's Handley-Loudoun County game.
Sherando first-year head coach Jake Smith felt the Warriors (5-6) gave everything they had.
"I'm extremely proud of the way our team played tonight," Smith said. "Broad Run is a very good football team. They were bigger than us at every single position. We were completely outsized and our kids didn't quit at all. They came out and fought for four quarters and that's all you can ask from them.
"The progress these guys have made is astronomical. We had a lot of adversity to handle this year with a new coaching staff and I don't think we had the same 11 guys on the field for two consecutive games for various reasons. They just kept battling and fighting and taking it one step at a time. The next-man-up mentality ... they fought every day at practice. From the first game to this game, that's a 100 percent improved football team."
The Spartans took the opening kickoff and drove it right down the field, going 65 yards in 12 plays. They took a 7-0 lead on quarterback Brett Griffis' three-yard touchdown run.
After Sherando lost one yard on its first three plays, it set up to punt. The Broad Run line overpowered the Warriors and the punt was blocked. Senior Alex Estes scooped up the loose ball at the Warriors' 10-yard line and scored to make it 14-0.
Another Sherando three-and-out led to a lengthy third possession from the Spartans. Broad Run put together a 10-play, 79-yard drive for a 21-0 lead. Griffis hit receiver Isaiah Lemmond in the end zone with a three-yard scoring pass just 39 seconds into the second quarter.
"We got down quick," Smith said. "They came out and made some nice adjustments and made us do some adjusting in-game.
"We had chances to keep it close early on but we just didn't make the plays we needed to make. Offensively we had a very difficult time handling that front. It got better as the game went on. Our skill players had a great game."
Sherando finally got on the scoreboard after starting its next possession at its own 40 and drove 60 yards in seven plays. Aydan Willis scored from two yards out on a drive that featured a 41-yard pass from Dylan Rodeffer to a streaking Gavyn Blye.
Broad Run tacked on two more scores and held a 34-6 advantage at the break.
Down 41-6, Sherando drove 84 yards in 10 plays. Rodeffer was 5 of 6 on the drive and finished it with a 19-yard TD pass to A.J. Santiago on fourth-and-10 to make it 41-13 with 4:11 left.
Griffis didn't put up big yardage through the air, but he passed for two TDs and ran for two more. Sherando had all sorts of trouble slowing the Spartan running game, as Aslin Shipe had 30 of Broad Run's 37 rushing attempts and recorded 187 yards and a touchdown.
After compiling nearly 500 yards on offense in their regular-season finale, the Warriors were held under 200 yards by the Spartans.
Smith felt the Warriors kept Broad Run honest.
"For the better part of the game Broad Run was in a football game and they had to keep competing," Smith said. "I'm really proud of the way our guys played in this game."