By Owen Gotimer
Ashburn (November 12, 2016) – A week out from travelling to Leesburg to play perennial state contender Tuscarora High School, two-time state champion Broad Run High School hosted the Huskies in a VHSL 5A North region playoff game. Two weeks of preparation led to two wins for the Spartans as they trumped the Huskies, 42-21, on November 11 in Ashburn.
“They put up such a good fight last week. I respect Tuscarora 100-percent,” Broad Run senior center Connor Gorey said. “But this team has big things planned. We’re here to play. Our goal is a state championship and nothing less.”
Known for their high-powered running attack, the turning point for Broad Run came midway through the third quarter on the defensive side of the ball.
After sacrificing 30 yards on the same play – due to an unnecessary roughness call followed by an unsportsmanlike conduct call – the Spartans were challenged by the young Husky offense in Broad Run territory.
On 2nd-and-goal, Tuscarora sophomore quarterback Justin Allen dropped back and made a pass, looking for the end zone, only to find Broad Run super senior Meech Hembry who picked off Allen and returned it back to the Spartan’s 33-yard line.
“We just tell our kids ‘just keep playing, just keep playing,’ and eventually things are going to go your way. Sure enough, we just kept grinding, trying not to give up the big scores,” Broad Run head coach Matt Griffis said. “It’s hard in high school football to maintain long, long drives. Eventually, you’re going to turn the ball over or get a penalty that hurts you. We did, and Meech had a huge pick.”
That interception return led to Broad Run freshman quarterback Mitch Griffis’ second touchdown run of the game to give the Spartans a 35-14 lead late in the third frame.
“I was proud of how we made offensive adjustments at halftime and ran the ball effectively. I was proud of how we played defense and special teams,” coach Griffis said. “All three phases, we did a heck of a job. That’s playoff football.”
While Broad Run’s defense offered the momentum swinging play, the Spartans’ running attack was certainly not overshadowed. The platooning quarterback duo of senior Ryan Braithwaite and the young Griffis ran for two touchdowns a piece, while Hembry added two rushing scores on top of his big interception.
“Heart and effort,” Mitch Griffis said. “That’s all we really ask from our guys, and they never fail to give it ever single play. They give 100-percent intensity.”
For the time being, Broad Run’s biggest challenge stands right in front of them. On November 18, the Spartans will travel across town to play Ashburn-rival Stone Bridge High School in a VHSL 5A North region quarterfinal.
“Next week, we have Stone Bridge and that’s just the next team on the list,” Gorey said. “We’re a blue collar team. We’re just going to run the ball and pound it. We’re going to bring our A-game, and they’re going to bring theirs. I’m excited to start game planning for Stone Bridge tomorrow.”
The last time the No. 6 Spartans and No. 3 Bulldogs met was October 14 at Broad Run. Late in the fourth quarter, facing a 4th-and-long, Griffis dropped back and delivered a 78-yard touchdown pass to Hembry to lift Broad Run over Stone Bridge.
“They’ve had this circled on their calendar since October 14. We’ve had this circled on our calendar. It’s time for us to bring it to them at their place,” coach Griffis said. “The road to the state championship goes through Ashburn. Both are very good football teams. We’d both probably like to play each other a little later in the playoffs. But you got to play each other eventually.”
As Tuscarora ends their season without a playoff win for the first time since the Huskies’ inaugural season in 2010, head coach Michael Burnett has a lot to look forward to.
Tuscarora sophomore quarterback Justin Allen – who threw three touchdown passes against Broad Run – as well as Tuscarora sophomore receiver Taye Davis – who caught two of those touchdown passes – will return for the 2017 season. The Huskies also return running back Jaylon Lundy, receiver Joe Morein and tight end Christoph Atkinson.
The Huskies will briefly celebrate their senior class before working towards 2017.
Meanwhile, the Broad Run’s preparation for Stone Bridge starts immediately.
“It’s still football. Same teams. Same game. Just a different place,” Mitch Griffis said. “Our fans will travel. Our fans travelled to Oakton, they travelled to Robinson, they travelled to Centreville last year. So they’ll travel one mile. They’ll be there.”
1Q 6:16 BR Ryan Braithwaite 54-yard TD run (Buri PAT)
1Q 2:42 BR Meech Hembry 9-yard TD run (Buri PAT)
2Q 10:29 T Justin Allen to Taye Davis 4-yard TD pass (Elmellouki PAT)
2Q 8:07 T Justin Allen to Gunnar Biebighauser 57-yard TD pass (Elmellouki PAT)
2Q 2:36 BR Mitch Griffis 32-yard TD run (Buri PAT)
3Q 7:40 BR Ryan Braithwaite 15-yard TD run (Buri PAT)
3Q 3:13 BR Mitch Griffis 36-yard TD run (Buri PAT)
4Q 9:02 BR Meech Hembry 31-yard TD run (Buri PAT)
4Q 2:36 T Justin Allen to Taye Davis 30-yard TD pass (Elmellouki PAT)