Salem, VA (December 6, 2016) – The Dominion Titans’ super football season came to an end in the semifinal state championship courtesy of the reigning 4A sate champion Salem Spartans on Saturday, December 2nd.
After an early 80-yard pick-six by Dominion’s Vashon McCants, coupled with a ferocious run defense led by Kyle Smith, Jayde Pierre, Tommy Christ, Alex Wertz, and Billy Walker, the potential of a victory appeared very promising for the visiting Titans. Although, plagued by poor field position for much of the game, it was only a matter of time before the tide would turn on the Titans. Such a tide resulted in touchdown passes of 61, 15, and 9 yards by the Spartans to go into the half with a 21-7 lead.
Coming out of the break, the Titan’s recipe for victory included 5-defensive stops, securing a turnover, and scoring two touchdowns. Unfortunately, the Spartans brought their own cookbook and scored on their first possessions of the 3rd and 4th quarters. A 36-yard touchdown catch by George Richardson and an 83-yarder by Tyell Eskridge closed the gap in the fourth, but it was a little too late. By games end, it was the Spartans that earned the right to compete in the following week’s state championship game after defeating the Titans by the score 38-22.
Aaron Wyche was on hand to cover the action and posted this gallery of the state semifinal game with 342 images.
After starting the 2016 season with a record of 2-2, the Titans’ promising season could have taken a different path after close loses to cross-town rival Potomac Falls and cross-county rival Woodgrove. Instead, after a lack-luster practice where their mettle was questioned, the Titans came together as a team and rode an 8-game win streak, none more memorable than the 30-23 point victory against undefeated Woodgrove in the regional semifinal game.
Though the results of the state semifinal against Salem didn’t end in the Titan’s favor, it was super season nonetheless. Dominion fought hard and competed to finish season with a 10-3 record, as Conference 21B Champions, and progressed further in the play-offs than any other football team in school history.
When asked, a few of the Titans’ players shared why the season was so special:
“Best thought was going this far in the playoff and making history with my teammates. I will never forget this moment. It was great year all I can say is you win some and you lose some.” – Billy Walker, SR, RB/DL, #4
“We did have great year, and what made us great was that we were all different and we embraced that.” – Kyle Smith, SR, LB/WR #11
“It was hard not finishing a week later but it was definitely a great season to end my high school football career. Coach Buckwalter is the best coach you could ever play for.” – Tommy Christ, SR, OL/DL, #50
“I feel that this was the best atmosphere of football that I ever been around. Coach Buck is one the best coaches I ever had. The team we had a special bond that will last forever, and we gave the teammates behind us something that they could carry on and finish.” – Corey Williams, OL/DL, #66
“This season was filled with ups and downs, but the one thing that flipped our switch was when we got kicked off the practice field. From that point on we were destined for greatness. DARE TO BE GREAT, was the motto and we stuck to that through our highs and lows, and that was what brought us to the semifinals. I love all of my brothers and in spite the loss to Salem we had the best season in school history and looking to go farther next year.” – Jayde Pierre, OL/DL, #55
“I remember when as a team we came together and decided we were going to finish practice after the coaches had decided to leave us down at the field for having a bad practice halfway through.” – Jayson Robinson, WR/DB, #5
“I’m proud to have played football for Dominion HS for 4 years. I have great teammates and our hard work together took us through the season and to the regional game at Salem. The best moment was beating Woodgrove on their field, and proving that our team was truly dedicated to ‘team above self’.” – Kevin Betts, WR/DB, #5
“The best part was going out to practice everyday with my brothers and just getting a chance to compete everyday was great. Everything we showed on the field all started in practice and we have a lot of great memories out there. It’s crazy to think our group of guys went so far when everyone doubted us and we shocked a lot of people this season and it will be one to remember.” – Tyrell Eskride, SR, QB, #13
“Having the honor to stand on the sideline and watch my team put in work.” – Bronson Hyatt, SO, WR/CB
“I was blessed enough to have played next to my teammates, friends, and now family of the 2016 Dominion Titan Football Team. In Woodgrove, when I knew the game was down to me. I was happy to know my team trusted me enough to put the game and season in my hands. As I was going into the field I hoped my months of practice would put the ball through the uprights. Although low, my kick went in. I felt this indescribable feeling afterward. That was the greatest night of my life. I may not remember much about the game in 20 years. But I will remember the feeling that night and the guys who were at my side when it happened. This is only the beginning for Dominion. We have proved to be a tough opponent. Now we must work even harder to advance further into December for that state championship. I look forward to kicking again next year.” – Ramon Blas, JR, K, #18
I truly enjoyed covering you this season and wish you the best in all your future goals.