Marshall High’s 24-15 football home loss to Madison last Friday night kind of summed up the way the high school season went for the Statesmen, a team that was so close to being a contender but could not quite get to where it wanted to go.
With the Liberty District loss to the Warhawks, Marshall’s season ended at 4-6. It was not the same success the Statesmen had last year when they had a winning record and qualified for the Northern Region Div. 5 playoffs. Even so, Marshall was close to being a good team again this season. A win over Madison would have earned the Statesmen a .500 record.
And Marshall looked as if it might upset the playoff-bound Madison team (6-4). Trailing 17-3 at the half, Marshall fought back to pull within 17-15 with five minutes left in the contest. But a late Marshall turnover led to a Madison touchdown that put the game on ice for the Warhawks.
"We played real well," said Marshall coach J.T. Biddison. "It was one of our better games."
<b>THE COACH</b>said Marshall had another winnable game against a strong district opponent a few weeks earlier in a home setback to Woodson on Oct. 17. The Statesmen were within six points in the latter stages of that one before the Cavaliers broke it open.
"We’ve been one or two plays away from turning [the season] around," said Biddison. "We had a couple missed opportunities here and there. We could have had a whole different record."
While the coach liked the way his team played across the board against Madison, Marshall could not overcome three turnovers in the loss.
"You don’t win close games when you turn the ball over that many times," said Biddison. "It was an even game."
Marshall’s wins this season came over four teams with losing records: South Lakes, McLean, Stuart and Hayfield. The Statesmen severely missed senior quarterback Harold Sweet over the first half of the season. The talented double threat (passing/running) signal caller hurt his left hand early in the season and missed the team’s first five games. Marshall was an improved team when Sweet was on the field over the final five weeks.
"He made all the difference in the world," said Biddison. "He definitely made us much more competitive."
The team’s top running back was underclassman Victor Vanegas, who rushed for over 600 yards on the season. Biddison said he looks for Vanegas to be even better next season if he puts in the offseason work to get bigger and stronger.
Vanegas scored on a four yard touchdown run against Madison. But Sweet had the biggest game for the Statesmen, throwing for 145 yards, including a 57-yard scoring strike to senior Jamie Cleer. The QB also ran the ball for 74 yards on 13 carries on the night.
But Madison had a huge game from running back Sasha Vandalov, who rushed for 136 yards and two touchdowns. Madison also got a touchdown from Mike McCool, who caught a 31-yard scoring pass from quarterback Will Clarkson.
<b>MARSHALL’S SEASON</b> ended with the loss to Madison, but the Warhawks are set to move into the eight-team Div. 5 playoffs. This Friday night, coach Gordon Leib’s teams will host Yorktown, a National District team from Arlington, in a first round playoff game, beginning at 7:30.
The McLean Highlanders saw their tough, winless season conclude with a 42-7 loss at local rival Langley last Friday night. McLean, under first year coach Jim Patrick, finished 0-10. Langley, meanwhile, finished at the .500 mark at 5-5.
Langley had another big game from senior running back David Helmer, who rushed for 129 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries. For the season, Helmer ran for over 1,000 yards.
Langley, ahead 7-0 after one quarter, blew the game open with five second quarter touchdowns to take a 42-0 halftime lead. Derek Eklund and Robert Higgins both scored on touchdown runs in the game, Eklund’s score coming on a 49-yard run.
Meanwhile, senior wide receiver/defensive back Alex Devlin had a big game for the Saxons, scoring defensively on a 21-yard interception return and also catching a 64-yard TD pass from quarterback Danny Princhett (6-of-7, 135 yards) on offense.
McLean’s touchdown came on a one-yard run by senior running back Kyle McColgan (16 carries, 80 yards) in the final quarter.