L.C. Bird lost in the playoffs. That six-word sentence sent shockwaves through the Central Region last Friday. The Skyhawks finally fell from postseason grace after an epic nearly four season run that included three consecutive state championships and a 33-game winning streak.
Hermitage defeated the Skyhawks 21-12 last Friday at Randolph-Macon to advance to the 5A South region semi-finals. It wasn’t really close, either. Quarterback Eli Odom and the Panthers were the better team.
Let’s not take a crumb away from L.C. Bird. You’re entitled to whatever opinion you may have developed about the program that’s become increasingly mercurial as they’ve won more and more.
For now, put that to the side. As a football or sports fan, you have to appreciate the excellence that manifested in Chesterfield. Having a talented roster doesn’t win games. Having excellent coaching does, because when those athletes execute a well-designed game plan, wins happen. In this case, a lot of wins in a short period of time.
One overlooked aspect of the program is the way that players are developed. When you win, kids want to play. They want a ring, too. This level of interest has led David Bedwell and his staff to field two JV teams, ‘A’ and ‘B.’ Only 11 players can take the field at any given time. It makes perfect sense from a developmental standpoint to get as many players into game situations as possible.
Yes, the Skyhawks have had the luxury of grabbing wins while playing against a few programs who have had a downtrend in recent years, including George Wythe, Clover Hill, Midlothian and Huguenot. While those teams are on the schedule every year, consider that before last Friday night, the L.C. Bird Skyhawks had won 15 straight playoff games. Those aren’t against programs that have struggled to field a win- they’re against the best of the best.
In 2012, L.C. Bird won the 6A state title against 14-0 Ocean Lakes, a Virginia football powerhouse. In 2013, they sunk Briar Woods, who had won three straight state championships. Last season, they beat a power run team 14-0, Tuscarora, headed by a beast of a running back in Noah Reimers. Had L.C. Bird won a title this year, they would have achieved the equivalent of football immortality in Virginia, joining Phoebus and Hampton as the only teams in history to win four straight rings. They are still a dynasty.
A legacy of outstanding running backs continued, except all of these names have at least one ring on their hand: Paul Robertson, Earl Hughes, Stephen Mines and J.B. Wright. There were big defensive plays like Brandon Walker’s key interception in the 2012 state title game, and unexpected heroes such as reserve Waymond Pate who hauled in the decisive touchdown in the 2014 state championship. There were pure playmakers, like Jalen Elliott, Terrence Ervin, Daijaune Dorsey and Rasheed Worsham. There were behemoth lineman like Quadrick Barnes and Martavious Robinson. There was Josey Davis, who probably played with more heart than any athlete I have personally witnessed. He’s now serving our country in the U.S. Marines.
With all that being said, it’s not over. This isn’t a eulogy. It’s a stroll down memory lane. After all, the Village News has been there the whole way. That’s where Village News Sports cut its teeth as a brand, with about 200 followers, mostly Skyhawk faithful as we tweeted about the Oakton game in 2012. The hashtag #SkyhawkNation was born, but the concept long existed before Twitter.
Simply put, I’ve been spoiled with outstanding football over the past three years, and I’m grateful to have written these stories for a such a loyal fanbase.
Looking forward, 2016’s version of the L.C. Bird Skyhawks should have a great defense led by Rayshard Ashby and Isaiah Moore, and a big running back by the name of Shedrick McCall. A roller coaster wouldn’t be as fun if it just kept going up and up. Getting back to the top of the football world will be even more rewarding the second time.