Ashburn, Va. — Defending a 4th-and-1 from near midfield on the opening drive of the game, the Broad Run High School defense stepped up. Tuscarora handed the ball off to their trusty running back, who was met and stonewalled at the line of scrimmage by Broad Run senior linebacker Luca Lombardo, short of the line to gain. From that moment, the Spartans knew they were in for a special afternoon.
Series after series the Spartan defense proved stout, paving the way for Broad Run senior quarterback Brett Griffis to rush for nearly 100 yards and 4 touchdowns, as the Spartans shut out the Huskies, 35-0, to claim the VHSL Region 4C title on November 26 in Ashburn.
“Every additional week with this team is just a blessing. I really love these kids, and I’m glad we won for them,” Broad Run head coach Matt Griffis said. “Selfishly, I just want another week with them.”
After that first defensive stop, the younger Griffis—who was recently named a Dulles District co-Offensive Player of the Year—quickly got to work rushing for a yard before finding senior receiver Kyle Love for a 17-yard pick up. After another short run, Griffis hit senior receiver Arnav Thornhill for an 8-yard first down. Then on the following play, Griffis found senior receiver Isaiah Lemmond for an 8-yard connection. Over the next five plays, Griffis rushed for 11 more yards and hit Thornhill with another 7-yard reception and sophomore running back Aslin Shipe carried the ball two times, including the drive-capping 1-yard touchdown run to put the Spartans up 7-0.
“We can pound the rock. Our O-line was making holes that you could drive a semi truck through,” Brett Griffis said. “When the wind’s a factor, and you can and rely on your run, that’s what championship teams do.”
On the Spartans’ next defensive series, they had yet another stand on 4th-and-short, as junior lineman Alex Birchmeier recovered a fumble.
And as he had done the previous drive, Griffis went right back to work, leading the Spartans on a 9-play, 52-yard drive, ending in his first rushing touchdown of the afternoon.
“The way our defense plays allows our offense to be conservative or aggressive,” Coach Griffis said. “Today, the elements kind of dictated to pound the rock.”
On the ensuing possession, the Broad Run defense forced a three-and-out, turning the ball back over to Griffis, who capped off the Spartans’ third drive of the game with a 2-yard touchdown run.
Coming out of the half, Tuscarora got its first defense stop of the day but, again, failed to get anything going on offense. Despite a tremendous effort by the Spartans, Tuscarora senior running back Bryce Duke, rushed for yet another 100+ yard game, however, for the first time all season, he was kept out of the endzone.
“We really focused on staying in our gaps, doing our jobs, and stopping the run,” Broad Run defensive back Alex Biddle. “We stacked the box, trusted our corners, and we all did our jobs today.”
Late in the third quarter, Griffis rushed for his third touchdown of the day, before he put the game on ice with a 1-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter, earning Broad Run its first region title since 2009.
The journey to winning this region title had been twelve years in the making.
When Coach Griffis took over the program in 2010, he had big shoes to fill as the Spartans were coming off back-to-back state championship seasons in 2008 and 2009. Even with certain expectations for the maroon and gold, Griffis knew he was in it for the long haul as his sons Mitch and Brett were in line to lead the Spartans into battle years down the road.
Over his first eleven seasons at Broad Run, Griffis led the Spartans to the playoffs ten times and the region championship games six times, falling to Briar Woods in 2010 and 2013, Stone Bridge in 2018, and Tuscarora in 2014, 2019, and 2020.
“I have to thank our past graduates,” Coach Griffis said. “The classes before showed our seniors how to lead and because of them, we are where we are today.”
So in 2021, the Spartans were ready to change the headlines, and behind the four-touchdown performance of the youngest Griffis, Broad Run did just that, avenging their previous three region championship losses to Tuscarora and making a statement to the rest of the VHSL Class 4 teams.
“Over the last however many years, we’ve gotten past Thanksgiving then lost the next day,” Brett Griffis said. “It’s a great feeling to get the monkey off our back and come away victorious.”
Broad Run will have its hands full when it travels to VHSL Region 4D champion Salem on December 4 for a VHSL Class 4 State semifinal, but the Spartans are just excited to play together for at least one more week.
“I love winning,” Brett Griffis said. “But the biggest thing about winning this game is I get another week with my best friends and another week game-planning with my dad.”
|1Q||4:32||Broad Run||Aslin Shipe 1-yard TD run (Garrett Bennion PAT)||7-0|
|2Q||8:41||Broad Run||Brett Griffis 4-yard TD run (Garrett Bennion PAT)||14-0|
|2Q||5:03||Broad Run||Brett Griffis 2-yard TD run (Garrett Bennion PAT)||21-0|
|3Q||1:05||Broad Run||Brett Griffis 5-yard TD run (Garrett Bennion PAT)||28-0|
|4Q||9:03||Broad Run||Brett Griffis 1-yard TD run (Garrett Bennion PAT)||35-0|