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Greetings from The Booth!
I did a little double duty Saturday at Shenandoah as we now have a little football-basketball overlap for a couple of weeks. First, the football. The Hornets assured themselves of a winning record with a 35-16 win over Apprentice in a game that went as expected and was a microcosm of the Builders’ season. Apprentice, as they had done most of the season, hung in with their opposition, but costly mistakes at the absolute wrong time did them in. Don’t get me wrong, SU played well, rolling up 474 total yards and led 21-0 , but then seemed to lose interest for a while, before pulling away. At 6-3, the Hornets now have a chance to finish 7-3 if they can beat ODAC Champs Washington & Lee on Saturday at home. More on that in a bit.
After the football game, which I think might be still going on, I made the short walk across the Buzzy Plaza to the Wilkins Center to do the public address duties for SU Women’s Basketball. The ladies were impressive in their 2021-22 season debut, routing Goucher 75-43, with 13 of the 14 Hornets who played scoring at least one point. In addition to a very deep bench, SU boasts one of the most exciting players in the ODAC in senior Sierra St. Cyr, who led the “good gals in white” with 13 points. Please get out to a game or two and cheer them on this season.
Back to football. With the ODAC title wrapped up, one would think that W&L might take it easy Saturday and focus on their NCAA tournament game the following week. My broadcast partner, DeShon Foxx, who was once the passing game coordinator for the Lexington school, assures me that will not be the case. The Generals want the outright title, and with a loss to SU Saturday combined with a Randolph-Macon win against Hampden-Sydney in “The Game,” both W&L and RMC would finish with identical 5-1 ODAC records. The Generals would still be the league representative in the NCAA, but would be called “co-champs.”
To win Saturday, the Hornets will have to stop the Generals’ running attack, led by Josh Breece, who is finally a senior. It seems like the talented running back from Lorton, Va., has been at W&L for 10 years, and it will be a tough order to stop him. Still, W&L has looked human this year, and if not for a last second miracle against HSC and a comeback win at home last week against Ferrum, the Generals would be watching Randolph-Macon celebrate a league championship. The Hornets probably need to play just a little better than they did against the Builders, but there’s every reason to think they can beat W&L if they bring their “A” game to Shentel on Senior Day.
Senior Day will be an emotional one for a number of Hornets who will put the uniform on for the last time. Bonds have been formed on the gridiron that will last well beyond football for these SU seniors, who will move on to the game of life once the clock reads zero late Saturday afternoon. The task at hand will be to keep the emotions at bay during the game, and focus on beating the Generals. A win for Shenandoah would mean a 7-3 season, the best since the NCAA playoff year of 2004. What a way to say goodbye!
Don’t forget to catch the buzz Saturday starting at 12:30 with the Hornet pre-game show. Until then, thank you seniors and…GO HORNETS!
Greetings from The Booth!
The visitors booth at Day Field in Ashland, Va., was not a fun place to be this past Saturday. The Randolph-Macon Yellow Jackets used a familiar formula in soundly beating the Shenandoah Hornets 45-14 on Family Weekend at RMC. We’ve seen it all too many times: a ball control offense that possessed the football for over 44 minutes, an efficient passing game (on the rare occasions the Jackets threw the ball) featuring the tight end, and a dominating defense that completely shut down the Hornets. Simply, SU ran into a lemon and black buzzsaw.
No element of football is independent from another. Case in point, the Hornets offense never got anything going on Saturday. Thus, the defense was constantly on the field and eventually worn down by the constant pounding of the Yellow Jackets. Even when the Hornets were hanging in early, thanks to some special teams mistakes by RMC, there was never a feeling that Shenandoah was going to pull the upset, as they did the week before against D-2 Emory & Henry.
Sometimes the best lessons, albeit painful ones, come out of defeats like the one at RMC. The Hornets were riding high after their win against E&H , and rightfully so. But the Jackets showed Shenandoah what the upper echelon of the ODAC looks like. The Yellow Jackets are perennial contenders who have won 3 of the last 5 league titles. They are near the top in the nation in several categories, and they don’t beat themselves. And when they have you down, they don’t let up, usually. If not for a last-second Hail Mary by Washington & Lee, RMC would be undefeated. In short, SU got hit with a measuring stick last weekend, and it left a mark.
For the Hornets, it’s time to move on, because there are still some things to be accomplished. With a win this Saturday against Apprentice, Shenandoah would secure a winning season. And with a win against the Builders followed by a home win in the finale against W&L, the Hornets would finish at 7-3, their best season since the NCAA Playoff year of 2004. This is significant, because 7-3 is that next rung on the ladder that separates you from the middle of the pack, and puts you closer to the the league’s elites.
This season, that’s not quite close enough.
Catch the Winchester Printers Pre-Game Show from at 12:30 Saturday, followed by kickoff at 1. Until our next visit from the Booth…GO HORNETS!