By HARRISON HAMLET
(RIDGEWAY, Va.) – Bassett’s football team spent 12 weeks ignoring the doubters, turning their focus inward as they entered head coach Brandon Johnson’s third season.
The Bengals were rewarded with a 6-4 record in the regular season, including a second-straight victory in the Smith River Classic over rival Magna Vista.
Their second contest against Magna Vista, however, did not have the same outcome. Bassett fell 36-7 in Ridgeway on Friday night in the opening round of the Virginia High School League (VHSL) Group 3, Region D playoffs, ending the Bengals’ season.
“I’m proud of these guys,” an emotional Johnson said after the game. “These tears aren’t because we lost. It’s because I don’t get to coach a great group (of seniors) anymore…These guys have set the stage moving forward and I think eyes have been opened. Nobody expected us to be here and I am just proud of these seniors.”
Bassett was unable to get much offense going throughout the game on Friday, earning just one first-half first down against a staunch Warriors defense.
Part of the issue for the Bengals was injuries along the offensive line, particularly at center. Bassett’s starting center was injured in practice and their backup suffered a leg injury during the game, leaving the middle of the line vulnerable to an experienced Magna Vista front-seven.
“It is one of those things,” Johnson said of the injuries at such a crucial position. “They put pressure on that and they knew the weakness. The centers that came in, neither had ever played that position in their lives and they did an excellent job.”
Down 30-0 in the third quarter, the Bengals were able to recover a fumbled snap on a Magna Vista punt and take advantage of the first-and-goal situation for their only score of the night, a 14-yard pass from Jaricous Hairston to Keshaun Valentine.
Johnson did not rue missed opportunities, but instead focused on the positives of the season.
“They have a great program, we’re striving to be like Magna Vista has been in this area. I think we took a huge step into that this year,” Johnson said of the Warriors. “We’ll take a little time off and reflect on this season and hit the weight room. Whether we win or lose, this is about life and how you react to adversity. Adversity struck tonight, but I thought we kept fighting…Nothing but respect and I’m just proud we had a chance to come out here and play them in the first round of the playoffs.”
Bassett finishes the season at 6-5 overall and will graduate 15 seniors, including a dozen who have been with Johnson since his first day on the job.
“My last two senior classes have been good, but I didn’t have enough time with them. These guys have been with me since day one…They bought in. It’s been a good ride with them,” Johnson said. “We’re returning 9 starters on offense, nine hard-nosed guys…I’m excited about the future. That’s one of those things you hate to think about now because of course we wanted to come out here and perform a little better, but our future is bright. We have a lot of kids that battle and I’m excited about the future and where we’re going to go.”
Magna Vista High School 36, Bassett High School 7
BHS – 0 0 0 7 – 7
MVHS – 14 9 7 6 – 36
3:25 – MVHS – Dryus Hairston 1 rush (Cory Osborne PAT good)
1:26 – MVHS – Louis Taylor 6 rush (Cory Osborne PAT good)
3:41 – MVHS – Cory Osborne 30 field goal
0:56 – MVHS – Ty Grant 35 pass from Dryus Hairston (PAT blocked)
6:58 – MVHS – Logan George fumble recovery in endzone (Cory Osborne PAT good)
9:23 – BHS – Keshaun Valentine 14 pass from Jaricous Hairston (Freddi Lopez PAT good)
5:10 – MVHS – Freddie Roberts 7 rush (PAT fail)
BASSETT HIGH SCHOOL
Kevon Smith 10 for 20; Simeon Walker-Muse 5 for 0; Jaricous Hairston 4 for -2, fumble; Ty Cline 1 for -4. Total: 20 for 14.
Jaricous Hairston 6-18 for 39, TD, INT.
Demetrius Gill 2 for 17; Keshaun Valentine 3 for 13; Ty Cline 1 for 9.
MAGNA VISTA HIGH SCHOOL
Dryus Hairston 8 for 33, TD; Freddie Roberts 5 for 28, TD; Louis Taylor, 9 for 17, TD; Isaiah Neal 3 for 12; Tyler Johnson 3 for 11; Drew Santoemma 1 for 9; Kylan Brown 5 for 8. Total: 34 for 118, 3TD.
Dryus Hairston 9-20 for 151, TD, INT; Freddie Roberts 1-1 for 26.
Ty Grant 4 for 92, TD; Tyler Johnson 4 for 65; Freddie Roberts 2 for 20.