By HARRISON HAMLET
(DANVILLE, Va.) – Magna Vista’s football team suffered a loss to Halifax County last week that head coach Joe Favero felt was self-inflicted.
This weekend, travelling east on highway 58 for the annual shootout with fellow Piedmont District powerhouse G.W.-Danville, Magna Vista avoided those same mistakes and brought home a 28-14 win.
“I was really proud of the guys to put last week behind us and go out and play well,” Favero said. “The players knew we let one get away from us that we shouldn’t have against Halifax. They owned those mistakes, didn’t make excuses or blame each other and put things together this week and got a win.”
The Warriors trailed 7-0 after the first quarter, but touchdown passes from Dryus Hairston to Ty Grand and Louis Taylor put Magna Vista in position at 14-14 entering the fourth quarter.
“We just gave up one big play early,” Favero said. “We had a pretty good first half and just needed to fix a few little mistakes.”
Late in the game, Hairston answered the bell. A short run from the junior quarterback gave Magna Vista the lead. On the Eagles’ ensuing possession, Rion Martin snagged an interception, setting up Hairston’s fourth-down touchdown-pass to Drew Santoemma to seal the win.
“That was a huge play in the game. Dryus went through his progression and Santoemma found a hole in the zone and made the catch,” Favero said. “It put us up two scores in the fourth quarter and kind of ended the game.”
After turning the ball over several times in the loss to Halifax County, Favero said he felt Hairston bounced back and played well, finishing 18-32 passing for 265 yards and three touchdowns.
“For sure it was a bounce-back game for Dryus,” Favero said of his signal-caller. “He put the week before behind him and made the plays we expect him to make.”
As a team, Favero noted the conditioning and toughness his group showed as the crucial aspects to Friday’s win.
“I thought our conditioning has been excellent, which is important,” Favero said. “In the fourth quarter, a lot of times, it comes down to toughness. Our kids were tough on Friday and found a way to get it done.”
Magna Vista (7-2) is not only climbing up the rankings in their Virginia High School League playoff region, they are now in position to win the Piedmont District if they can get a road win against rival Bassett (5-4) on Friday night.
“That’s a big goal for us. It is still important and still matters anytime you can win a championship in anything,” Favero said of potentially winning the Piedmont. “We have to finish out the season to accomplish that goal.”
Favero acknowledged that winning the Piedmont is a goal for his team, and the “if” in “if they beat Bassett” is a big one, as the Bengals won the rivalry contest a year ago.
“They’re definitely improved and a better team than last year,” Favero said of Bassett. “They play really hard and have some excellent players. Their coaching staff is doing a good job of putting the kids in position to be successful.”
One thing is for sure, Favero said, the environment in Bassett on Friday night will be raucous.
“It’s a rivalry week. You like playing your biggest rivals. The kids and coaches know each other and it is fun to play in front of a huge crowd,” Favero said. “We’ve played well on the road, our two losses have both been at home. We’ve played our best football away from home; so going over there I expect that we’ll travel well. We’ve had a great crowd on the road all season.”