One of the staples of the King George football team this year has been its ability to avoid costly mistakes. That ability helped produce 10 straight victories without a loss.
But against visiting Varina in the Region 4B semifinals on Friday night, the Foxes committed six (three lost fumbles and three interceptions). In the end, those miscues were more than coach Vern Lunsford’s squad could overcome in a 28–10 loss to the Blue Devils from Richmond.
Led by the athletic play of slot back Anthony Fisher (181 all-purpose yards), and a swarming defense sparked by lineman De’Andre Crump, Varina ended King George’s season and advanced to next week’s region final.
The Blue Devils (10–1) will host Patrick Henry–Ashland, which upset top-seeded Dinwiddie 35–14 on Friday. The Patriots handed Varina its only loss this year by one point.
“I think we settled in during the second quarter against a team that we hadn’t seen,” said Blue Devils coach Marcus Lewis. “We’re battle-tested. I told our kids before the half that if we got up on them, we needed to stay up and keep the pressure on.”
That’s basically what happened after King George built a 10–7 lead in the second quarter and then saw Varina respond with 21 unanswered points.
“Everything gets magnified in the playoffs,” said King George senior linebacker/tight end Kyle Reviello. “We made some mistakes and had opportunities to make up for them, but we couldn’t get it done.”
Varina struck first on a 6-yard touchdown run by Fisher after King George fumbled at midfield. It was the beginning of a long—and pivotal—half for the Foxes.
On King George’s next possession, the Foxes put together an impressive drive and tied the score on a 28-yard pass from quarterback Zach Ferguson to Aydin Woolfolk. Five minutes later, they took their only lead on a 34-yard field goal by Matt Lipinski.
The lead was short-lived, however. In the next eight minutes, the Blue Devils took control of the game’s momentum and never looked back.
After Ferguson was intercepted at the King George 32, Blue Devils quarterback Myles Derricott connected with Fisher for a 22-yard strike to regain the lead, 14–10.
“We came out a little flat and had to pick it up and play Varina football,” said Fisher.
On King George’s next possession, the Foxes tried a little trickery and it backfired. On fourth and long from their own 27, the Foxes lined up in punt formation, but hiked the ball to the up back. The result was a 7-yard gain, but it was well short of the needed yardage.
Five plays later, Blue Devils running back Tae’mon Brown capped a short drive with a 2-yard run and Varina had taken control of the game’s momentum. They held the Foxes scoreless the rest of the game and then added a late touchdown run by Fisher in the fourth quarter.
Lunsford said the pivotal fourth down call was a “high risk–high reward” situation and that his team needed to generate something at that point.
“Once you make a call, you live with it,” said Lunsford. “Sometimes it works out, and sometimes it doesn’t. In the end, it’s all on me.”
Despite the sting of a season-ending loss, the Foxes coach was proud of his team and what they’ve accomplished, especially the senior class.
I’m so proud and happy to have coached this team,” said Lunsford. “They’ve done a lot to turn this program around. It’s a testament to their hard work. They have a lot of heart and have had a great season.”
“I played my freshman year with coach Lunsford and we went 1–9,” said Reviello. “But we turned it around. I never thought we’d be here in the region semifinals two straight seasons. I owe everything to him.”
Va—Anthony Fisher 6-yard run (Gerard Cousins kick)
KG—Aydin Woolfolk 28-yard pass from Zach Ferguson (Max Lipinski kick)
KG—Max Lipinski 34-yard field goal
Va—Anthony Fisher 22-yard pass from Myles Derricott (Gerard Cousins kick)
Va—Anthony Fisher 5-yard run (Gerard Cousins kick)