• 66°

Falcons garner 14 all-state football accolades

Fuqua School’s varsity football team was represented by 14 selections among the 2019 Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association (VISAA) Division III All-State teams and honorable mentions, with three selections coming on the first team.

The Falcons finished 9-2 overall for their 2019 campaign with their season ending at home in the VISAA Division III state semifinals against the eventual state champion, St. Michael the Archangel Catholic High School. But the Falcons handed the Warriors (10-1) their only loss of the year in the regular season, as Fuqua claimed the Battlefield Conference crown.

“I felt like we were a little bit light in the first-team accolades for our guys,” Fuqua Head Coach Ben Manis said of the all-state honors. “If you don’t make it to the big game, that kind of counts against you. I think we did fairly well, and I think most of the kids got recognized.”

Falcons senior Elijah Warner was named to the all-state first team as both a defensive back and as a punt returner. Senior Matt Osborn made the first team as a wide receiver.

On the all-state second team, Warner was named at quarterback, Matt Osborn was named at defensive back, and other Fuqua honorees included senior Jarrod Cooper, as both an offensive lineman and defensive lineman, senior kick returner Jaylen Hempfield, senior punter Drew Osborn, junior linebacker Jackson Allen, junior linebacker Ryan Ledger and senior offensive lineman Colby Barton.

Falcons receiving all-state honorable mentions were Allen, as a running back, and junior linebacker Sean Bradley.

Commenting on Warner’s first-team honors, Manis said, “He really didn’t get that many opportunities to return punts, but when he did, it was always a game-changer because he took them back to the house. I think he had like three or four punt returns, and two or three of them went for touchdowns, so that kind of stuff really kind of adds up.

“And the defensive back (honor), he kind of played our two-high safety look where he’s kind of an outside linebacker, kind of a safety, puts him in a really bad bind as far as some of his coverage responsibilities but really made us a much more versatile defense,” the coach continued. “And he played that position very well.”

Warner recorded 84 total tackles this season.

At receiver, Matt Osborn finished the year with 26 catches for 704 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Of Osborn making the all-state first team as a wide receiver, Manis said, “I thought this was a no-brainer. He was easily in the top two if not the best receiver in our division, really kind of threw himself into that position very well this past year. As far as a pure receiver, he did much better than most of the other guys in our division. He probably — in the next division up — could have been in the running for (first-team) wide receiver.”

Osborn also produced stellar play at defensive back, and Manis said it was a shame that Osborn did not make the all-state first team at that position as well.