WINCHESTER — The Sherando football team’s nightmarish first 93 seconds gave James Wood a golden opportunity to get some early momentum when it started its first possession on the Sherando 36-yard line on Friday night.
The Warriors’ defense didn’t yield a feel-good moment at that point, though, and that stinginess became a constant.
James Wood came up empty on six possessions inside Sherando territory in the first half, twice as a result of Zach Kim interceptions inside the 5-yard line. By the time the Colonels scored their first offensive touchdown, they were behind by 43 points with 4:32 left in the game.
For the fourth straight year, Sherando beat James Wood by more than 30 points, with the latest blowout a 49-12 road decision at the newly christened Walter Barr Field at Jerry Kelican Stadium. The field name became official in a pre-game ceremony honoring legendary coach Walter Barr, who coached James Wood to the 1970 Group AAA state championship and coached both the Colonels and Warriors during his career.
Sherando defeated James Wood for the 13th straight time to improve to 28-2 all-time against the Colonels. In the season and Class 4 Northwestern District opener for both teams, the Warriors got contributions from all sources.
New starting running back Darius Lane rushed for 226 yards and three touchdowns on 25 carries. New starting quarterback Chacai Campbell completed 7 of 16 passes for 135 yards, two TDs and two interceptions and rushed for 72 yards and a TD on 15 carries. (Backup Dylan Rodeffer did not play until the final few minutes.) Senior wide receiver Jabril Hayes caught four passes for 87 yards and two TDs.
But it was the defense that set the tone and made Friday’s comfortable win possible. For the game, the Warriors had four sacks — three by senior linebacker Payne Bauer — and three takeaways, including a fumble recovery at the James Wood 14 that led to a Campbell 3-yard TD run that made it 21-0 with 3:27 left in the second quarter. The Colonels were held to 229 yards, including just 56 yards on 22 carries.
“I thought the defense kept responding,” Sherando coach Bill Hall said. “We put them in some bad situations a couple of different times, and they kept responding.”
Sherando’s defense immediately had its back against the wall because of the Warriors’ rough start on offense and special teams. The Warriors committed two holding penalties and a personal foul in their first four plays to put them in a third-and-37 situation at their own 12. One play later, Sherando punted from its own 19, and Jaden Ashby (52 total yards, 127 return yards, one TD), returned a punt 18 yards to the Warrior 36.
The Colonels went three-and-out though, with linebacker McKinley Dean (team-high eight tackles) making an exceptional open-field tackle on a screen pass over the middle to Ashby for a one-yard gain on third-and-10.
“We started off kind of slow, so that was a big defensive drive for us,” Bauer said. “We’ve got everybody making plays out here, and that’s real big for us.”
Bauer made a huge one on offense immediately after James Wood’s 13-yard punt on that opening drive. Campbell moved as if he was going to run a play to the right but he handed off to Bauer running right to left on a counter play. Bauer brushed off a light tackle attempt after turning the corner, then broke a couple of other arm-tackle attempts down the field for a 78-yard TD with 8:19 left in the first quarter. The first of Jack Hendren’s seven extra points made it 7-0.
After Hayes took a screen pass and ran in virtually untouched for a 45-yard touchdown to make it 14-0, Sherando forced a fumble from Luke Esparza after a 4-yard catch at the Wood 19 and recovered at the Wood 14, leading to Campbell’s TD.
Ashby then fired up the James Wood crowd by returning Hendren’s kickoff 63 yards to the Sherando 33, but the Colonels turned the ball over on downs four plays later. Kevin Brown fired the Colonels up again three plays later with a 19-yard interception return to the Sherando 18, but the Warriors again forced another turnover on downs after four plays.
In the second quarter, it was senior strong safety Kim’s time to shine. He intercepted a pass from Carson Hoberg (14 of 27 for 152 yards, two interceptions) on first-and-goal from the 9 by stepping in front of a pass intended for Jayson Herndon in the end zone to keep Sherando’s lead at 28-0.
Later, Kim would step in front of a Hoberg floater over the middle intended for Lavaughan Freeman (two catches, 72 yards) at the 5-yard line on second-and-16 from the Sherando 22 to again keep the lead at 28-0.
“[Kim’s] coachable,” said Hall of the first-year starter. “I think [defensive coordinator Jake] Smith and those guys on our defensive staff have done a good job coaching him up. He was reading his keys and he made plays when his number was called.”
Bauer made his fair share of plays, too. On two of his three sacks, he grabbed Hoberg’s jersey with one hand and used pure strength to rip him down.
“He’s better than he was last year,” said Hall of the first-team all-state selection in 2018. “That’s a tribute to the work he put in during the offseason.”
Sherando called Lane’s number plenty on Friday, and with good reason. Lane surpassed his entire 2018 season rushing total by three yards on 15 fewer carries against the Colonels, showing speed, power and shiftiness while doing so. Lane had a 13-yard TD run in the second quarter to make it 28-0, and scored the Warriors’ final two TDs on 24- and 29-yard runs in the second half.
Lane was part of a Sherando effort in which the team compiled 533 yards, including 398 on the ground.
“We knew Darius was capable [of running like he did tonight],” Bauer said. “He was eating tonight.”
Lane had to play behind an all-state running back and three-year starter in T.J. Washington last year, so it meant a lot to him to keep the team’s tradition of success in the backfield going.
“I’ve been working towards this,” Lane said. “It feels great that I finally got the opportunity.
“Before the game, I was very emotional, because I just wanted it so bad. I’m just so hungry this season. To finally get out here and do what I did, it feels great.”
“I’m really happy for Darius,” Hall said. “He’s waited his turn, and he made the most of his opportunity tonight. And the guys up front did a good job.”
James Wood got a huge play at the end of the first half when William Crowder returned an interception 96 yards for a touchdown to make it 28-6 at the half. But overall, James Wood didn’t get the consistency it would have liked, particularly from the spread offense it’s emphasizing this year.
“Sherando played a good game, but we need to execute better,” James Wood coach Ryan Morgan said. “We needed guys to step up at the right times, but we didn’t do it. We played a whole lot better in our two scrimmages and had fewer mental errors than we had tonight. That was frustrating. We’ve got to find a way to carry our practice habits over into game situations.
“We didn’t match their physicality. On defense, we missed tackles. We’ve got some guys who are good tacklers. I think Sam Adkins did a great job tonight, and Luke Esparza made some good tackles. But more guys need to come up under control and make sure they’re using proper technique and make sure they’re not throwing a chicken wing out there.”
Prior to the game, Barr received several warm ovations from both James Wood and Sherando fans as his accomplishments were announced over the public address system. Barr’s wife Connie and his longtime friend Wendell Dick walked alongside Barr as he made his way from the end zone by the field house to the center of the field for the ceremony. Standing in front and facing him on the James Wood sidelines were several dozen former players, including members of the 1970 Colonels state championship team.