Football Team Overcomes Challenges

Photo courtesy of: Katelynne Collins

Photo courtesy of: Katelynne Collins

Jim Coulter, Staff Writer

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Down 28-7 at the half against Freeman, things were looking bleak for the Wildcats. The Freeman game is always an important rivalry game, but this game was bigger than usual with major playoff implications for both teams.
The Wildcats slowly chipped away at the lead using a dual-quarterback system led by starting quarterback Aidan Wheeler and backup quarterback Jack Baruch. Baruch, the more effective passer of the two, was inserted into the game at the start of the second half. Wheeler was moved to receiver. Coach Chad Hornik switched between the two quarterbacks throughout the second half, keeping the Freeman defense guessing and not allowing them to get into a rhythm.

Trailing 28-21 late in the fourth quarter, the Wildcats had the ball with a chance to tie the game and send it to overtime. After a sequence of exciting plays by senior receiver Dylan Schwarzmann, including an incredible hurdle over a Freeman defender, Wheeler ran it in from 1 yard out to bring the Wildcats within one point. While everyone in the stands was expecting the Wildcats to kick the extra point and go to overtime, Hornik had different plans.
He decided to leave the offense on the field to attempt a two-point conversion to take the lead with less than 15 seconds left in the game. Wheeler took the snap at quarterback, rolled right, and found the corner of the end zone to give the Wildcats a 29-28 lead.

The run, however, may not have been the most impressive thing Wheeler did on that play. The original play call was for a reverse to Dylan Schwarzmann. Wheeler knew the Freeman defense would be expecting that and told Hornik “that play won’t work.”

Hornik trusted his quarterback to make the right decision and let Wheeler make the play call. The decision paid off for Hornik and the team as they celebrated a thrilling victory.

“The most exciting thing I’ve ever been a part of,” Wheeler said of the game, “something I will never forget.”
The following week, the Wildcats seemed to have a letdown against Thomas Jefferson in a 29-24 loss. A disappointing result, but not one that would end the playoff hopes for the Wildcats as they were still in position to make the playoffs after the loss. However, they would likely have to win all of their remaining games to do so.

John Marshall came to Deep Run the following week for the annual homecoming game. John Marshall put up a fight for 3 quarters, but the Wildcats pulled away late for a comfortable 42-20 win to improve their record to 4-4.
The Wildcats followed up their game against John Marshall with an exciting win against Glen Allen on senior night. Glen Allen running back Devin Flowers ran for a whopping 295 yards, but the defense stopped him late as the Wildcats held on for a 39-33 victory.

The season ended for the Wildcats with a 17-0 loss to Godwin, dropping their final record to 5-5. An unfortunate result for sure, but the team still understands the improvements that the Deep Run football program has made in Hornik’s first two years.

“Obviously we wanted to win against Godwin,” said senior safety Derek Singer, “but we still have a lot to be proud of this season.”

This senior class certainly has a lot to be proud of. They were a big part of establishing a winning culture here at Deep Run, posting a combined record of 11-10 over the past two seasons. Just two seasons removed from posting a 2-8 record in 2015, this program now expects to win and compete for a playoff spot every year, and much of this can be attributed to the senior class.

Football Team Overcomes Challenges