December 14, 2003

Hopewell Blue Devils Capture State Championship

LIVING THE DREAM,

LIVING THE DREAM:
HOPEWELL TAKES STATE TITLE



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 John Leather.

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.




 

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