Immense state title challenge awaits

Published 5:39 pm Thursday, November 15, 2018

No. 3 Fuqua School (5-5) will face No. 1 Roanoke Catholic School (9-0) in the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association (VISAA) Division III varsity football state championship Friday at 7 p.m. at William Fleming High School’s Colonels Stadium.

This game will be a rematch of last year’s VISAA Division III state title game, which the Celtics won 51-36. An important difference is that the Falcons are significantly younger this year, having graduated a lot of key players. Meanwhile, the Celtics, who have won their last 30 games, including two state title games, remain strong, having been able to draw new talent in recent years.

Fuqua learned how good Roanoke Catholic is this year during the regular season when it visited the Celtics and fell 52-8 on Oct. 5.

Email newsletter signup

“They try to get the ball in the hands of their playmakers, and they’re probably offensive line scheme-wise not as complex as they’ve been in the past, but they’re good,” Falcons Head Coach Ben Manis said. “If you looked at power points before everything began, they would have been No. 2 in (VISAA) Division I much less being No. 1 in Division III. I mean, they’re good. So, we’ve got a tall task in front of us.”

This year, the Celtics have averaged 53.9 points per game and have won by an average of 41.8 points.

Some of their key players include junior defensive back/quarterback Adrian Whorley, sophomore running back/defensive end Kawuan Ray and sophomore running back El-Amin Shareef.

The quick-learning Falcons hope to be fully healthy by game day.

“We’re a little bit banged up,” Manis said. “I think we’ll be healthy going into it Friday, but a couple of these kids are day-to-day. They got kind of banged up in the Blessed Sacrament (Huguenot Catholic School state semifinal) game. We’ve got 18 kids on the sideline, and Blessed Sacrament and Roanoke Catholic both had 30-some, which makes a big difference.”

Day-to-day Fuqua players as of Wednesday included senior fullback/linebacker Christian Adams, sophomore running back Jackson Allen and junior quarterback/linebacker Elijah Warner, while junior wide receiver Matt Osborn was noticeably improved.