By Joe Skinner
LoCoSports Social Media Editor
Aldie (November 30, 2015) — Before any player even stepped on the field Saturday, November 28, Woodgrove High School’s loss to Jefferson Forrest High School in a VHSL 4A West region semifinal meant the final home game for the John Champe High School Knights (11-1), regardless of the outcome. An impromptu second senior night, you can call it. Nevertheless, the fight of the Knights proved to fall short as the Salem High School Spartans (12-0) dropped John Champe, 34-7.
A light rain was falling in Aldie as the game got underway. Salem got on the board early and often in the first quarter, as senior running back Donte Clayborne found the end zone twice in the first twelve minutes.
“Everything we have done to get to this point, to have it end like that, it hits you hard,” Knights senior quarterback Zach Burdick said. “I’ve never felt something like this, to not be able to put on a John Champe jersey ever again.”
Burdick got back to work in the second quarter as he scrambled for an 11-yard touchdown rush — what would end up being the Knights’ only points in the game.
Once the Spartans got the ball back, however, senior defensive back Scotty Schaffler intercepted the Spartans’ junior quarterback Noah Beckley to give the Knights the ball back with decent field position. The offense ended up turning the ball over on downs, and it was all Spartans after that.
“From where we grew up, it’s not really a football area, and I feel like we changed the community and what people perceive as [John Champe] football,” Burdick said. “Looking over at those guys, I wouldn’t want it to be with anybody else. If it wasn’t with those guys, we wouldn’t be able to do what we did.”
The next two Knight drives resulted in an interception and a turnover, so the Spartans went into the locker room with a 13-point lead after senior fullback Alex Ramsey punched in a 1-yard touchdown with 1:54 left in the half.
Clayborne scored his third touchdown with 3:48 remaining in the third quarter, and the Spartan offense put the finishing touches on the win with a 42-yard pass from Beckley to sophomore wide receiver Viante Tucker with 8:53 left in the fourth quarter.
“People [used to]quit on us after going 0-10 and 2-8, but we just kept fighting,” Burdick said. “You couldn’t go out in public and wear Champe football [gear]without being laughed at. [Salem] is a solid team, and they don’t make any mistakes, they all get after it.”
Salem will advance to face Jefferson Forrest in the VHSL 4A West region championship – which doubles as a VHSL 4A state semifinal – on December 5.
1Q 8:37 S Donte Clayborne 44-yard TD run (Craft PAT)
1Q 2:16 S Donte Clayborne 14-yard TD run (Craft PAT)
2Q 8:56 JC Zach Burdick 11-yard TD run (Nichols PAT)
2Q 1:54 S Alex Ramsey 1-yard TD run (PAT failed)
3Q 3:48 S Donte Clayborne 25-yard TD run (Craft PAT)
4Q 8:33 S Noah Beckley to Viante Tucker 42-yard TD pass (Craft PAT)