Falcons flight ends in state semifinals

Published 1:43 am Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Fuqua School varsity football team improved Friday on its previous meeting this season with Roanoke Catholic School, but the Falcons could not limit their opponent’s big plays enough to advance to the state championship game.

The Celtics ended Fuqua’s season with a 52-30 loss in the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association (VISAA) Division III state semifinals at Vineyard Park in Roanoke.

Falcons Head Coach Ben Manis highlighted three Celtics players who are extremely speedy and athletic and noted that his team does not have players at the same level to match up against them. Nevertheless, he was pleased with one way his squad limited the Celtics.

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“They really couldn’t drive on us; they really had to rely on big plays,” Ben Manis said. “They never scored inside the 20.”

But the Celtics managed to do plenty of scoring outside the 20, including converting a special teams touchdown on a kickoff return.

Roanoke Catholic, which defeated Fuqua 54-11 on Oct. 10 during the regular season, held a 30-11 lead at halftime Friday.

The Falcons tried to catch the Celtics off guard with the surprise return of star senior quarterback Devin Allen, who had been sidelined with an ankle injury since Oct. 21.

“We were planning on playing Devin today, for the most part,” Manis said. “We didn’t want that out for them to know about it because they had been to a couple of our games and knew that he was out.”

The coach said he played well in the first half but eventually got injured again.

“Late in the first half, a couple minutes left, he rolled out and threw a ball out of bounds to avoid taking a sack and slipped and fell on their field, and that was the last of him,” Manis said. “That was all he could handle.”

Fuqua pressed on without Allen, and senior Ed Newman and junior Billy French performed well while filling in for him in several different ways.

“It really took us until we were in the third quarter to really get the ball going down the field,” Manis said.

The Celtics improve to 9-1 and advance to the VISAA Division III state championship; the Falcons finish the year with a 6-4 record and have played mostly teams from larger schools in VISAA Division II.