Completing a dream season, the Hopewell Blue Devils captured
their first state championship since 1951 on Saturday. The Blue
Devils (13-1) downed Massaponax (13-1) by a score of 41-14. It
wasn't the prettiest game, but Hopewell dominated the game and
the scoreboard with opportunistic play and solid performances
from the usual suspects.
All season long, the Blue Devils have relied on the high school
equivalent of the Four Horsemen about which Grantland Rice wrote
all those years ago. Lee Bujakowski, Jerrett Brown, David
Hearington, and Warren Hedgepeth have been the focal point of
this team for the past two-plus seasons. These guys came through
with clutch performances in the last game they would ever play
together, but so did many of their teammates.
Maurice Thorne had the first big play of the afternoon. Early in
the first quarter, Thorne, a senior co-captain, blocked a punt
deep in Massaponax territory. The play set the tone for the
afternoon, as well as setting up a three-yard touchdown run by
Brown on Hopewell's very first play from scrimmage.
On their next possession, Bujakowski hit Hearington on a
pump-and-go for a 39-yard touchdown. In the second quarter, the
Blue Devils built a 20-0 lead on another Bujakowski-to-Hearington
connection. The Panthers got a ray of hope, however, when they
scored on a hail mary to end the first half as Jay Kenney hit
In the second half, Hopewell missed several early opportunities
to put the final nail in the Massaponax coffin. Three times
Hopewell receivers had at least one hand on a pass in the end
zone without hanging on for the score. Eventually, however, the
Blue Devils pulled away on another touchdown by Hearington
followed by two more from Brown.
Bujakowski finished with 152 passing yards on 11 for 25 passing,
with no interceptions and three touchdowns. All three were to
Hearington, who had 6 catches for 109 yards and the scores.
Jerrett Brown rushed for 128 yards and two touchdowns on just 15
carries, and also had a kickoff return for a touchdown.
Hedgepeth had one reception for 18 yards, and he had a great game
on the defensive side of the ball. In fact, several players were
outstanding on the other side of the ball for Hopewell, including
Thorne, Michael Pigrim, Brown, and especially Letee Williams, who
had a critical sack and nearly returned an interception for a
touchdown. Jay Kenney actually turned in the outstanding
individual play of the game on that interception, however, as he
managed to stop Williams from scoring despite the fact that he
was accompanied by two blockers.
In all, the Hopewell defense did a great job of preventing
Massaponax from running the option effectively, or from scoring.
The Panthers racked up yardage, but most of that came outside the
red zone, or when the game was no longer in doubt. Amazingly, the
Blue Devils held Kenney (playing in place of star quarterback Nat
Jackson) to zero yards on seventeen carries!
This is truly a great moment for the players, coaches, school,
and community of Hopewell. It's the first time since 1994 that a
Central Region team has won the state title. This time, it was
done in convincing fashion as the Hopewell Blue Devils made good
on a promise to themselves after last year's heartbreaking loss
in the state semi-finals.
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As a final note in this wrap-up, I would be remiss if I didn't
congratulate the Powhatan Indians on their State Group AA,
Division Four championship. Although Powhatan is not technically
a Central Region school, they are a Richmond-area team, and Coach
Jim Woodson and his team capped an amazing, undefeated season
with a 6-0 victory over former AAA power William Fleming.
The lone score came on a touchdown pass from Kevin Minor to Ryan
Harris. Cory Fridley also had a terrific peformance, running the
ball 24 times for 118 yards. The Indian defense did the rest as
Powhatan won their second state title, and first in AA.