So Close

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Greetings from The Booth!

I was going to rant about the Washington Commanders (again) after another embarrasing loss Sunday against the woeful Giants. What can I say? It’s therapeutic. But I couldn’t do it. Instead, I chose to write about football in it’s purest form…

In high school football, the finality of a playoff loss is palpable. For many seniors, it’s the last time they will put on a uniform. There will be no college football or the NFL. When the clock hits zero, it will be the last organized football they will ever play. That reality hits even harder when the loss comes in heartbreaking fashion. There will be no tomorrow.

Heartbreak for the Strasburg Rams came in the form of an 8-7 loss this past Friday in the VHSL Region 2B Semifinals to undefeated Woodstock Central. The 12-0 Falcons have been a team on a mission since losing the State Championship game lst December and have been laser focused in their quest to return to Salem. A little over 2 weeks ago, Central took down Strasburg 28-7 in the season finale, in the process winning the Bull Run District title. And, it was Central that celebrated a regional championship on the Rams’ field last year, a memory that festered in the minds of the Strasburg players, coaches, and fans. For the Rams, Friday’s game was a chance to return the favor in Woodstock.

Strasburg scored the first points of the game on a defensive “scoop and score,” and for the better part of the game, the 7-0 score held up, as the Rams’ stingy defense had all the answers for the vaunted Central running attack. As the game wore on into the final period, that 7-0 score felt more like 14-0. In reality, because Strasburg missed out on several chances to extend the lead and close the deal, Central was just one play away from tying the score.

Great teams aren’t great all the time–just when they have to be. With their undefeated season and dreams of a state title on the line, the Falcons marched 70 yards on their final drive, pulling to within 7-6 on Tyler Forbes’ short TD blast with 1:16 left. Coach Mike Yew then decided to roll the dice and go for 2. Knowing that Strasburg’s defensive ends would be crashing down on Forbes, Yew ordered a QB keeper around the right end, and Nick Barahona delivered, diving in for the game-winning conversion.

As elated as the Falcons and their fans were, the Strasburg players were equally deflated. The Rams left everything on the field, and it wasn’t quite good enough. They did not deserve to lose, but as the saying goes, someone has to. For those Central players who made it all the way to Salem last year, only to fall just short of a state championship, they know all too well the feeling of having the season end in disappointment.

For Central, it’s on to another regional championship game. For Strasburg, it’s on to a winter of “what might have been.”

Until the next visit from The Booth…have a Happy Thanksgiving!




Sports Dogs HS Football Podcast: Region 2B Championship

Only one area high school football team remains alive in the VHSL playoffs, as Woodstock Central prepares to defend it’s Redion 2B title Friday night against powerful Riverheads. The Sports Dogs look back at the semifinal round, and break down the Falcons-Gladiators matchup! GO FALCONS!


Sports Dogs HS Football Playoff Podcast

Let the second season begin! It’s playoff time, and several of our area teams will be playing some extra football! The Dogs break down the regular season finales, and their playoff implications. Randy & Ryan also look at this Friday’s VHSL Regional quarterfinal games, plus our Player of the Week, and thw weekly Power Five!


Sports: Thursday, November 9, 2023

VHSL Playoffs Begin Friday, Smith Signs With St. Bonny, Caps Fall In OT

Anthony Mantha gives the Caps a second period lead in a 4-3 overtime loss. Courtesy Capitals Radio Network…

Avoiding The Gatorade Bath

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Greetings From The Booth!

Well, the booth for me this Saturday (12-10) will be the press box at City Stadium in Salem (Va.) as I, along with my broadcast partner Ryan Rutherford, get to call the VHSL Class 2 Championship Game between the Woodstock Central Falcons and the Graham G-Men from Bluefield. For me it’ll be my fifth state title game as a play-by-play announcer, having called the Handley Judges championships in 1984 and 1994, and Sherando’s 2 title game appearances in ’95 and ’96. It’s a huge thrill to broadcast a state championship game, knowing that you’re painting the picture for lots of folks back home that can’t be at the game, some hanging on every word.

This time we head to the former site of the NCAA Division-III championship game, the Stagg Bowl, and there’s some irony in that. In my 22 years broadcasting college football, I always dreamed having our local team go the Stagg Bowl and calling the game, but that never happened.

Anyway, win or lose on Saturday, it’s been a memorable season for the Falcons. Last year, Central just missed getting to the promised land, losing in the state semifinal to eventual champion King William. This season, the Falcons fought their way back to the state semis, where they took care of the unfinished business from 2021, beating Poquoson 37-10. Now, they must defeat an undefeated Graham team that also has unfinished business, having lost to King William in last year’s title game.

For a further breakdown of Saturday’s Class 2 Final, I’ll direct you to the Podcast section of this very website, where you can navigate to The Sports Dogs Podcast. What I wanted to do in this post is share a great video from the end of last weekend’s Central semifinal win over the Islanders. I guess the Gatorade bath has become somewhat cliche in sports, but it’s still fun to see a team trying to be clandestine and sneak big tubs of the sports drink close to the head coach and then soak him.

Falcon’s Coach Mike Yew was too smart for that. In an interview this week with Yew, he indicated that because of high blood pressure, he preferred not to have the Gatorade dumped on him (this coming from a man who superstitiously wears cargo shorts on the sideline regardless of the weather conditions). In the waning moments of Central’s win, he either knew it was coming or was tipped off, and an assistant got the bath instead.

Should the Falcons win the state title this Saturday, I have a feeling Yew won’t mind “taking one for the team.”

Enjoy the video…and from high above the field at Salem City Stadium…GO FALCONS!


Yew Gatorade