Echoes of “We believe” have reverberated throughout the hallways of South County Secondary since the beginning of the football season. The drama grew with each win and matured into full-fledged chants which were clearly heard last Friday after the Stallions defeated Yorktown 37-13 for the school’s first Northern Region Division 5 title.
South County hosts Hanover High School at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 3, in state semifinal action. After starting the season with three losses, the Stallions are just one win away from a trip to Charlottesville for the state championship.
“I’ve been here since the school opened and this week is about as high as I’ve ever seen the excitement from the student body, faculty and community about a game,” said Mike Pflugrath, South County director of student activities. “It may easily be the largest game that we have ever hosted.”
An Uphill Battle
After a tumultuous start, head coach Gerry Pannoni has the Stallions playing deeper into the postseason than any previous South County team. While tomorrow’s semifinal appearance is the first for the Stallions, Pannoni’s traveled the road once before in the state semi's 2004 with W.T. Woodson. And despite losing by four points, his experience in the game hopes to prove invaluable.
“You want to make sure that the kids understand that they’re not just happy to be here,” said Pannoni. “They have to understand the importance of it otherwise it could escape them.”
Hanover (10-2) captured this year’s Central Region Division 5 title and has posted consecutive 10-win seasons.
Energy is high in Stallion territory. “We’ve actually had to gear them back a little bit in practice this week" said Pannoni of his players.
“We believe” has been the theme for South County this season and fans hope to be shouting those two words as time expires from the game clock on Saturday. If the South County’s players have anything to say about it, they will be.
Players to Watch
Stallions linebackers Devin Vandyke and Oren Burks have anchored the team throughout the postseason. Running backs Andrew Rector (601 yards) and Peter Basnight (590 yards) can be counted on to spearhead a potent rushing attack while quarterback Shane Foley has passed 1,200 yards and rushed for 432.
Enjoy the game!