By HARRISON HAMLET
(ROANOKE, Va.) – In 2013 and 2014, Magna Vista and Northside’s football teams met in the playoffs. Both times, the victor went on to claim the state championship. Time will tell if Friday night’s playoff matchup between the Warriors and Vikings will have the same implications in 2019, but it won’t be Ridgeway’s football team advancing.
Northside’s Christian Fisher ran for 134 yards and three touchdowns, leading the Vikings’ option offense to an impressive night that saw them earn a 27-6 home win over Magna Vista.
“I thought they just played better than we did,” Magna Vista head coach Joe Favero said. “They have a heck of a team and they do a really good job executing. They have a couple of athletes who made some plays tonight and that’s what you need in the playoffs. I thought they did a good job defensively of not letting us get into a rhythm. Then, they made some big plays in space and found the endzone.”
Freshman Viking quarterback Sidney Webb got the scoring started in the opening quarter before Fisher got going.
Just 15 minutes into the game, Northside took a 13-0 lead, leaving a tough hill for Magna Vista to climb on a cool, windy evening in Roanoke.
“That’s the most rushing touchdowns we’ve given up all year in a game (four) and I thought 7 (Fisher) was a heck of a player who has that burst, and 10 (Webb) does too,” Favero said. “They’re very patient runners, they run then they change angle and just explode through it. Up front, they blocked really well. We didn’t do a great job coming off blocks.”
With Magna Vista senior running back/cornerback Louis Taylor limited by an ankle injury, the Warriors’ offense largely operated without their leading rusher in the backfield as Taylor took the majority of his snaps on the defensive side of the ball. Taylor aggravated the ankle injury in the fourth quarter and exited a high school football field for the final time on crutches.
As a result, Magna Vista’s offense struggled in the early downs, creating multiple third-and-long scenarios for junior quarterback Dryus Hairston. The Warriors were 2-for-12 on third down conversions before a pair of late conversions with the Vikings in prevent defense.
Magna Vista was able to cut into the deficit just before halftime. Dekavis Preston intercepted a Webb pass and returned it into Northside territory. Three plays later, Hairston ran it in from eight yards out.
“He (Preston) caused a bunch of turnovers this year with strips, causing fumbles. Then he did a good job of making some interceptions and making some big plays for us,” Favero said of perhaps his most talented returning player. “Fortunately he is just a junior for us.”
The Warriors were unable to convert the momentum into more points after the half, while Northside scored on their first possession of the third quarter to create a daunting 20-6 lead.
The Vikings then capped off the scoring early in the fourth quarter when a bad snap on a Magna Vista punt set up Northside with first-and-goal from the five, which Fisher punched in.
Northside outgained Magna Vista 375 to 190 yards on the night.
The loss sends a 28-member senior class into the end of their Magna Vista football career, but Favero credited that group with spear-heading the improvement this season that saw the Warriors return to playoff form and an 8-4 finishing record.
“I’m just very appreciative of having that group of seniors and getting to coach them,” Favero said. “They did a great job of getting the guys together in the offseason. Last season, we had a down year for us. They did a good job of getting the guys together and making sure we were a good unit coming off of the offseason. They worked really hard and I thought they did a great job of leading us on the field all year.”
Quarterback Hairston, receiver Tyler Johnson, and defensive backs Preston and Rion Martin will spearhead a group of 31 returning players in 2020, when Favero expects more good things to come following what he hopes will be a focused offseason.
“We have a good group coming back,” Favero said of his underclassmen. “We’re going to have to have some younger kids step up but I think as long as they buy in and do the things we’re looking for in the offseason, I like where we’re at.”
NORTHSIDE HIGH SCHOOL 27, MAGNA VISTA HIGH SCHOOL 6
MVHS – 0 6 0 0 – 6
NSHS – 7 6 7 7 – 27
3:50 – NSHS – Sidney Webb 30 rush (Matthew Johnson PAT good)
8:56 – NSHS – Christian Fisher 20 rush (PAT miss)
0:37 – MVHS – Dryus Hairston 8 rush (PAT blocked)
7:05 – NSHS – Christian Fisher 3 rush (Matthew Johnson PAT good)
11:48 – NSHS – Christian Fisher 5 rush (Matthew Johnson PAT good)
MAGNA VISTA HIGH SCHOOL
Louis Taylor 5 for 11; Josh Foster 2 for 10; Freddie Roberts 2 for 5; Kylan Brown 1 for 4; Tyler Johnson 2 for 2; Trever Martin 1 for 1; Dryus Hairston 10 for -32, TD, 2 fumbles. Total: 23 for 1 yard, TD, 2 fumbles.
Dryus Hairston 14-29 for 137, 2INT; Freddie Roberts 3-6 for 52.
Ty Grant 4 for 57; Drew Santoemma 4 for 57; Isaac Ellison 2 for 36, fumble; Tyler Johnson 4 for 21; Josh Foster 2 for 14; Kylan Brown 1 for 4.
NORTHSIDE HIGH SCHOOL
Christian Fisher 20 for 134, 3TD; Quentin Slash 5 for 70; Jaden Harrison 5 for 16; Sidney Webb 14 for 9, TD; Zach Horton 1 for -1. Total: 45 for 228, 4TD.
Sidney Webb 8-17 for 147, INT; Isaac Earls 0-1 for 0.
Isaac Earls 4 for 80; Christian Fisher 1 for 30; Zach Horton 2 for 23; Quentin Slash 1 for 14.