The 2012 season had already been another banner year for a program that’s bred for success. With its second 11-0 start in school history and a punched ticket to their third straight regional final, by all accounts, Bird belonged. In a record breaking night for running back Paul Robertson in which he ran for a school record 329 yards and scored three touchdowns, Bird was able to triumph over Varina 36-27 to win the 2012 Central Region Championship last Friday night.
“When we lost to Hermitage last year in the regional final, we started working at it again that next Monday,” Robertson said. “To win and to be 12-0, no team here [at Bird] has done that before, it’s overwhelming.”
The stands at Varina High school were packed. Bird fans filled the visiting stands and spilled out into the auxiliary bleachers. On a comfortably cool night on Black Friday, it would be the Blue Devils that drew first blood as running back Chris Tucker scored from seven yards out. After a missed extra point, the Blue Devils led 6-0.
The Skyhawks would score 15 unanswered points heading into halftime, as Robertson got free for a 25-yard run to tie the game at 6. Varina would then be called for a holding penalty in their own end zone, resulting in a safety and giving Bird the lead at 8-6. On Bird’s next offensive possession, quarterback Terrance Ervin hit Rasheed Worsham on a 22-yard pass to make it 15-6, where the score stood at the half.
On the first possession of the second half, Ervin struck again, this time hitting Darius Hawkins for a 34-yard touchdown. Varina would answer with a one-yard touchdown run by Herb Anderson and a two-point conversion by P.T. Dixon to make it a one-score game at 22-14.
The Skyhawks would maintain the lead throughout the game and extend the lead as Paul Robertson electrified the crowd with an 84-yard touchdown dash to make it 29-14. However, Varina’s Brandon Wood came back with a seven-yard touchdown run before Robertson would score his third touchdown two drives later on a 19-yard run. With 5:26 remaining, Bird led 36-21. The Blue Devils continued to fight and would score again on another Anderson run, but a missed extra point kept it to a two possession game and Bird emerged victorious.
“Varina has a crazy amount of athletes,” said Bird head coach David Bedwell. “I’m just glad the clock is finally at zero.”
Robertson’s 329 yards broke Yahkee Johnson’s school record of 302 yards set last season against Midlothian. Robertson has rushed for 539 yards and four touchdowns thus far in the postseason.
“The o-line did its job today, they make my job easy,” said Robertson. “They open the holes and I hit them; they have done a great job all season.”
The level of Bird’s success this season has been a surprise to some, as many thought this would be the year that Manchester dethroned the Skyhawks for the Dominion District Championship. There was also a degree of doubt heading into the playoffs as Bird played the weakest schedule in the Central Region, with Thomas Dale and the Dominion District having down years. Some wondered how they would fare against better competition such as Hermitage and Varina.
“People had different opinions on us this year,” said defensive captain and starting safety Brandon Walker. “Any doubt anyone had in us has done nothing except for fuel our fire to succeed.”
Bird, who is now 12-0, advances to the State semi-finals where they will face an Oakton team who has had an up and down season thus far. At one point, Oakton lost four straight games, but conversely they beat a number four ranked Westfield in the D6 Northern Regional Final. From 2003 to 2005, Bird won three straight Regional Championships; in 2005, they lost to Oakton 19-16. Should Bird win, this would be their first trip to the State Championship game since 1991. The Skyhawks are looking to win their first State Championship in school history.
For continued coverage of Bird’s run at a state title, like us on Facebook for updates, or follow us on twitter @VNewsSports for full live coverage as the Skyhawks travel to Vienna, Va. for Saturday’s game. Kick-off is at 4 p.m.