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Wild Again Winning is contagious at William Monroe. PAGE 11

VOL 4 . ISSUE 5 :: 2012-2013







(434) 975-2704




19 Central virginia’s Big athletiC Dig

scrımmageplay the central virginia sports authority

x’s and o’s 21 17 27

11 17

vol 4 . issue 5 :: 2012-2013

Wild again Winning fevor reignited at Monroe Page 11

BONUS POINTS Miller girls enjoy added depth

REPLICATION William Monroe recreates glory days

YEAR OF THE THREE Central Virginia thrives behind the arc


ARMS RACE The massive boom in construction


GRINDING IT OUT Wrestling perservering amidst adversity

VOL 4 . ISSUE 5 :: 2012-2013


25 Delivering the Dagger

S TA F F Bart Isley, Creative Director Bob Isley, Infrastructure Director Ryan Yemen, Creative Editor Journey Group, Art Direction O N T H E COV E R William Monroe’s Gary Morris M I S S I O N S TAT E M E N T Local sports are the lifeblood of every community in America, and we’re here to reach beyond the basics and give compelling accounts about Central Virginia athletes to our readers. CO N TAC T U S 4408 Ivy Commons, Charlottesville, VA 22903 [ e ] [ p ] 434-202-0553

PAPA’S PUZZLE When you support us, We support you. Help us complete the puzzle. Papa John’s supports local athletic teams, coaches and players while also helping make local athletic events like the Madison County versus William Monroe alumni game happen.


Mr. 1,000

William Monroe’s Markel Williams meets up with his mother after surpassing the career 1,000-point milestone during the fourth quarter of the Dragons’ Bull Run final against Clarke County. Williams and the Dragons lost just one game between January and February en route to making it to the Group A tourrnament. This year Monroe made it’s best postseason run since the 1995 season when the Dragons won a state championship. Williams is one of three players to get to 1,000 in the last five years (Desmon Shaver, Mike Roach). For more, turn to page 11. ✖ (Photo by John Berry)

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Champs again

After Western Albemarle ended on top of the heap during a wild finish to the Jefferson District boys hoops regular season, the Warriors managed to sweep the JD titles with a victory over Fluvanna in the tournament championship. A big reason they got it done was the way Chase Stokes (21) opened the game. Stokes poured in 13-straight points and give WAHS a 13-6 lead. ✖ (Photo by Ashley Thornton)

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Blue Ridge School

At Blue Ridge School, we believe it’s important to offer nontraditional outdoor activities along with our competitive team sports. The BRS outdoor program takes advantage of our location nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, offering 8 miles of trails through wooded foothills. The program gives boys a chance to learn to mountain bike, canoe, fish, ski, hunt, and work as a team.

Tony Brown, who is the coach of our mountain biking demonstrates what it means to be a man of character through his everyday actions. He has combined his love of the outdoors and mountain biking by creating bike races that are also fundraisers for charitable organizations. Tony believes that alternative athletic offerings — in addition to competitive team sports — give a boy a chance to learn to appreciate the outdoors, try new skills and personally challenge himself. “Learning to ride a bicycle is a great analogy for dealing with the ups and downs life throws at us,” says Tony who adds: “It’s also a life-long skill you can share with friends and family for the rest of your life.”

Tony has been at Blue Ridge School for 15 years. He is also the Dean of Students and teaches classes in Appalachian History, Service Leadership and Outdoor Appreciation.

Ride the Ridge is an annual mountain bike race (open to the public and part of the Virginia Off-Road Series) taking place in the Spring to benefit World Bicycle Relief -

Athletic, Outdoor - are intelligently crafted just for boys. Blue Ridge boys are more comfortable taking intellectual risks, speaking up, and taking responsibility. With no girls, guys can simply be themselves.

all Blue Ridge School

All of Blue Ridge School’s programs - Academic,

Scan for more info on the Outdoor Program.

boys • boarding • college bound St. George, Virginia • 434-985-2811 •

First Quarter Extra contributions

Miller girls maintain status quo with top talent and depth By Bart Isley


Rachel Odumu has only helped to bolster an already loaded Miller squad. (Ashley Thornton)

{ BALANCED DEPTH } You can’t stop a 3-headed attack. Here are the scoring averages for Odumu, Taylor Sandidge and Whitney Martin. SANDIDGE

11.2 10.9



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oach James Braxton and the Miller girls basketball program have won state championships in the past by going with star power. They’ve also won with a more even keeled approach.

There isn’t any one way to go out winning, but if you were to try and pin-point how the Mavericks went on another postseason run to the state final four in 2012-2013, you’d have to credit both philosophies. There’s no getting around the fact that on both sides of the ball, the Mavericks are led by Taylor Sandidge’s tenacity. She can shoot, she can drive, she runs the point, she forces plenty of turnovers. Then you have a true pointforward in Radford-bound Whitney Martin, the only member of the team that was there in 2010 when the Mavericks won a Division III title. That duo is the engine that drives this Miller team, but the role players that Miller’s flourished with deserve more credit than they often get. Rachel Odumu is a classic example of Braxton-coached role player who does a lot more than just chip in here and there. “She’s probably our best athlete, and she’s usually guarding the other team’s best player,” Braxton said. “Since she works so hard on defense we’ll take every point she can get for us.” Averaging more than seven points a game heading into the state tournament, Odumu helps balance out the scoring between Sandidge and Martin, but her ability to get inside also helps to create looks for the Mavericks outside snipers. Lilly Riggleman and Kristin Histand have thrived from beyond the arc with opposing defenses sagging back in a zone and refusing to play man-to-man. “Rachel’s very versatile,” Braxton said. “She’s struggled at times with her shot this

year but she does such a great job of getting to the basket. And when she’s on, she’s on.” As a junior on a senior-laden squad, Odumu is rounding out her game and the time will be near when the Mavericks count on her to lead the way just like Sandidge and Martin saw their roles increase when Ashley Bowles graduated in 2011. For now, improving means working on the details, most notably footwork. “We’re talking a lot about doing things off of two feet,” Braxton said. “Going up with two, landing with two. I feel like she’ll be able to get a lot more and-1’s doing that.” But at the end of the day, what makes Odumu stand out in the game isn’t seen in the stat book. Still, she averages more than a pair of steals and three rebounds a game. And every coach loves an athlete that takes pride in defense. “She’s just tough and she’s thrives on guarding the best player,” Braxton said. “Before we play the next team she’s always asking ‘Coach, who do I need to worry about.’ She’s always thinking about the next player she has to guard. She’s a thinker and she’s improved each year she’s been with us.” And as a result, little changes at Miller. The Mavericks simply wouldn’t feel right if their season ended before March. Hard work from athletes like Odumu over the years are a big reason why the wins keep coming. ✖

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For more girls basketball coverage head to


College Update

Tale of the Tape

Six players, all with ties to Central Virginia. Christopher Newport coach Todd Boward is almost cornering the market with athletes from the area, tapping into Albemarle in particular. Former Patriots Ari Elgort (2009), Billy Crist (2010) and Steve Mastropaolo (2012) all led Albemarle to deep playoff runs during their respective times. In Elgort, the Captains have a dedicated faceoff specialist who won 62 percent of his battles last year, putting him 32nd in the country. Crist made an impact as a freshman in 2011 by scoring five goals and adding four assists before a 17-point season as a sophomore. Mastropaolo, a massive 6-foot-4-inch force of an attackman, had a monster year to close out his high school career and should find a way to impose his will as he makes the transition. That trio of Patriots find themselves surrounded by former local rivals from their high school days. Western Albemarle’s Jake Myers

and St. Anne’s-Belfield’s Mark Hargrove. A midfielder, Myers (2009) bounced back from an injury in 2011 to tally five goals and a pair of assists last season. Hargrove split time in net with Zach Starsia (2008) and Austin Geisler (2010) at STAB and after transferring from Virginia Miliary Institute, earned the back-up role at CNU last year, churning out 118 minutes in-between the pipes and making 18 saves. While Goochland does not have a lacrosse program, Jack Aldridge turned his time on defense on the club circuit into a chance to play longstick midfield for the Captains. With those six players, the Captains will look to build on their 6-9 record for their first winning season since 2009. Where it once was Hampden Sydney making hay with Central Virginia athletes the previous decade, CNU is collecting the pieces now and providing a home for some the best lacrosse talents in this area over the years. ✖

BELOW » Ari Elgort is one of three AHS alumni playing lacrosse for Christopher Newport. (CNU Sports Information)


By Ryan Yemen


CNU loads up with Central Virginia talent

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On the Sidelines

As the driven snow One sport stays untouched while the others reshuffle


n his retirement speech, Babe Ruth called his sport “the national pastime, the only real game, I think, in the world.” Obviously, the Bambino was slightly biased towards his profession. Nowadays, baseball has its fair share of detractors, some claiming it to be barely a sport, the other extreme. But no matter where you stand, the one thing that you have to respect about baseball is how consistent the product is on a yearly basis. If you fire up the Delorean, set the date for 1910, gun it to 88 mph and take anyone from that era back to the future, one thing that would feel familiar would be baseball. The equipment hasn’t evolved much. The rules are the same, the strategy has not changed significantly. In that sense, it is the only real game, because it never has to compromise its rules. What was baseball 110 years ago remains true today. The big debates in the sport now revolve around modern technology. Nobody wants to change what is or isn’t a strike, home run or foul ball, they just want it more perfectly defined by replay. It’s somewhat comical to think that that’s the polarizing conversation. Just look at the other products around baseball to understand how absurd that is. When the Olympics resurfaced at the turn of the 20th century, wrestling was one of the biggest events, period. The whole two-week competition is a celebration of Greek values, and now in Rio De Jeniro in 2016, the single most Grecian event won’t be held. What purpose the Olympics serve now is far from what they did when they first came back around. Right now it seems as nothing more than a ratings giant for NBC, where it once was an arms race between the world powers and at least a national rallying cry for all countries. But to take an event like wrestling out of the Olympics, whether it’s popular or not, is fundamentally changing the product. They can continue to call it the Olympics, but let’s not pretend it’s the same thing. This version of the Olympics has events that include high speed walking and trampolines, but not wrestling? Ridiculous. Over in the NFL, administrators can’t leave the game alone. There is no longer an official definition for what a catch is (Calvin Johnson in 2010, that Green Bay-Seattle simultaneous catch debacle last year). Hall of Fame defensive backs Ronnie Lott and Mel Blount would be suspended every week if they played this version of football. While the emphasis on rule changes primarily revolves around player safety, it isn’t all that cut and dry. The change in yardage for illegal contact from 15 yards to five yards, the so called “Ty Law rule” has everything to do putting more points on the board and allowing the networks avoid the ratings killers that are 10-7 and 6-3 football games more so than anything else. On the hardwood, basketball can’t decide if wants to be football or European football. For every player flopping and diving to draw fouls, you’ve got a hard-nosed forward slapping people in the back of their heads and commiting comically violent fouls. While you could make the argument that there still isn’t any defense played in the NBA, for as long as Michael Jordan played, you couldn’t play zone defense. On the ice, hockey is constantly being remodeled, particularly with points system that determine the standings. Just 20 years ago you had a win, loss or tie. Then 10 years ago it was win, loss, tie, or a loss in overtime where you also picked up a point. Now there are no more ties, it’s 4-on-4 overtime for five minutes followed by a shootout. Yet when the playoffs :: 10

“What was baseball 110 years ago remains true today.” kick in, it’s 5-on-5 sudden death. The game play changed too, also for television. The twoline pass is back to help lift scoring. Wayne Gretzky spent his career without it. And that’s what makes baseball so special, gives it that pure feeling that lends itself to being called the national pastime even when we all know that football is king in terms of popularity. The one thing you’ll always be able to count on is that the bases are 90-feet apart and it’s 60 feet and six inches from the rubber to the plate. The rules collect dust but yet remain current and relevant. If Babe Ruth wanted to play today, the only thing he’d have to change about his game is that he’d have to wear a helmet. I don’t know why the other sports and major events can’t take a hint from baseball. When something’s perfect, you don’t tinker with it. Every spring I’m reminded that baseball is the perfect game because of that. Its design never waivers.✖

Ryan Yemen,


back talk »

Does baseball really have it all figured out? Email Ryan at:



He witnessed a lot of the games first hand, but Markel Williams was simply a fan of William Monroe basketball back then. Now he has dozen of DVDs with the gametape from the Dragons’ 2008-2009 season. Monroe’s return to basketball prominence came that year when Williams and teammate Gary Morris just were in eighth grade. Now they are the featured athletes. It was Mike Maynard’s third season as coach. After enduring a pair of tough campaigns to start,

during the ’08-‘09 season the Dragons earned a Region II berth and came a game away from qualifying for the Group AA tournament behind the one-two punch of athletic foward Mike Wims and sniper Mike Roach. Both went on to play at Lynchburg College the next season. A lot has changed at Monroe since then, most notably the school’s classification, and, as such, expectations have remained high and the Dragons have delivered. While it was the class of 2009 that put Monroe back on the map again as one of Central Virginia’s most consistent programs, it’s the class of 2013 that picked up the flag and carried it further to the tune of a state tournament run conjuring up memories of the magical season in 1995 when the Dragons won the Group A tournament. But it’s the ’08-’09 team that this current Monroe team most resembles. And that’s a high compliment as it was that group that got the Dragons back on track after years of struggles. “That team with Mike Roach and Mike Wims, we had all those kids playing as 10th graders and it’s the same with Markel and Gary,” Maynard said. “And Gary is that shooter, that scorer that Mike Roach was, and Markell gives us that great inside-outside game that Mike Wims had.” Markel Williams has the size and athleticism of a legitimate prep post player, and as a sophomore and junior, that’s where he cut his teeth. Last year, he was the focal point of just about everything his team did. He drew defenders in. He helped to break presses and traps. He went to the free throw line on seemingly every other possession. But last year, Gary Morris also rose to the occasion as a break through star with his ability to shoot, but more importantly, to strive fearlessly to work his way inside off the dribble and get points in the paint, whether on a set play or in transition. :: 12






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“I think the biggest thing about those two guys right now is that they really don’t care about who gets the glory,” Maynard said. “And that’s exactly how it was with Mike Roach and Mike Wims. Those guys bought in when we won three games the one year and eight games the next. Finally we got rid of the idea of a William Monroe athlete just being happy to be on the team. They learned that it was okay to play hard even if you might lose. We really had to fight that attitude. It’s not that way anymore.” The last two years, few teams have won more games than the Dragons. In Monroe’s inaugural season in the Bull Run District, the Dragons finished second only to George Mason and were able to earn a home game in the Region B tournament. By beating Buckingham County, Monroe was once again one win away from a trip to the state tournament. With Williams and Morris returning as seniors, this season was a significant window for the Dragons to pile up the wins and they did just that. After dropping a consolation game to Albemarle in a holiday tournament, Monroe won every game it played up until the Region B final against Dan River. And along the way, it’s been Williams and Morris, Morris and Williams in tandem getting the job done and getting their team the coveted trip to play in Richmond at the Seigel Center. “Gary and Markel, it doesn’t matter who’s night it is,” Maynard said. “They play well off of each other. They’ve matured a lot over the last few years.” Gaining that glory, or even hanging tough, used to be a problem for the Dragons. Then, when Monroe was taking it on the chin in the Jefferson District before and just after Maynard arrived, it was an issue of attitude over talent. It took time for the swarming mad-dog attitude that Maynard tries to instill to take hold. But when it did, the proof was in the pudding and Roach and Wims were the ones that first saw it. That’s no longer a fight that Maynard has on a daily basis. Monroe continued to see success after Roach and Wims left with athletes like Desmon Shaver (2011) taking over. But it was last year with Williams and Morris taking on the feature roles that the Dragons suddenly started to look like that hungry, goal-driven squad four years ago. Things have come full circle and it’s easy to see why. Some nights it’s both, some nights it’s one more than the other, but it’s hard to argue the balance offensively when you consider that both Williams and Morris were

just over 400 points each on the season heading into the Bull Run championship game against Clarke County. Roach and Shaver were the only 1,000 career point scorers for Maynard coming into this season. In the Bull Run District championship against Clarke County, Williams became the third. Morris sat just under 115 points away from the milestone after the Bull Run tournament. There were significant changes for both to adjust to this year. For starters, Morris was no longer going to thrive as the breakout talent that teams didn’t see coming. The scouting report was out and the opposition was expecting him this year. Where he was troublesome for defenses off the dribble and getting to the basket last year, Morris was just that and more this year. It was a given with the graduation of 3-point shooter Jordan Gentry that Morris’ touches offensively would go up. It turns out he was more than ready for that. He became a more confident shooter this year and from just about anywhere on the floor, whether off his own creation or out of a screen and just unloading. Mid-range and from beyond the arc, Morris became a universal threat offensively this year while still being incredibly aggressive by going inside and getting the ball to the basket. “I’ve just accepted my role,” Morris said. “I feel like it’s pretty much the same as last year. But there have been changes for some of the other guys.” For Williams especially. This year Maynard decided to shift him around the court, putting him at guard and allowing him to bring the ball up and create his own looks to attack the basket. Where in the past he often had to post up and wait get the ball inside. Williams’ ball handling skills were there so that he could simply take care of things on his own or if and when he drew in enough defenders, he could work the ball to Morris or any of the other shooters on this team. “I was used to the post so (moving to guard) had it’s ups and downs,” Williams said. “I just try to continue to work as hard as I can because I want to be able to continue to play in college.” The move didn’t throw off Morris either. “(Markel) is going find a way to play his game no matter where he is,” Morris said. “So it really hasn’t been hard to get used to.” Standing at 6-foot-2, at the next level playing guard is exactly where Williams projects and after winning :: 14


the player of the year award for both Region B and the Bull Run District, the experiment has been a success on multiple levels, both for Williams as an individual looking to move on and particularly for Monroe as a team. “I like playing guard,” Williams said. “I led us last year in points but this year I get to do it with assists. It’s gotten us more wins, and so I look at it like ‘whatever it takes to win.’” Both Williams and Morris have been doing this for a while, playing off of one another and seeing success come from that. It’s something that dates back to them growing up. And as such, winning and working together is just second nature. (Gary and I) have been doing this since rec league,” Williams said. “It’s easy by now to be honest. We just love playing with each other.

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He’s my brother.” There’s no question about the leading duo that has Monroe basketball feeling loud and proud again. But the surrounding cast has that déjà vu feal as well, and that’s an added bonus. Where Terrence Johnson was power underneath, collecting rebounds and delivering put-backs in ’08-’09, Jeff Early has taken on that same role. Four years ago it was Andy Brown helping out at guard on both sides of the court. This year it’s Austin Batten. Where Shaver was the underclassmen waiting in the corner for a wide-open 3-pointer, that job is now up to sophomore Keegan Woolford. The similarities are striking, and as such, the results shouldn’t be all that surprising either. “It’s never just one or two players,” Morris said. “We just like to play team basketball. We all contribute, every game.” Now for the third straight season, the Dragons have a team that pushed for a state title. The baseball team did it the previous spring. The golf team did it this fall. The long playoff runs are becoming tradition now at Monroe, and it’s not by accident or for a lack of effort. With each playoff run, Stanardsville comes alive. The nice thing for the community in Greene County now is that their teams aren't making them wait long for the next big thing. ✖

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17 :: @scrimmageplay


The ability to hit a 3-pointer and knock it

shooter is one of the most critical weapons

down consistently doesn’t come naturally. It’s

a high school team can possess. They can

cultivated over time. Sure, pure shooters come

immediately turn a narrow advantage into a

with a natural knack for the skill. But it’s with

sizeable lead with a run. They can dig teams

hours in a gym or on a blacktop court or on

out of a hole. And when it counts, they can be

a driveway hoop, that the 19.9 feet between

trusted to bury a key late shot to put away an

the basket and the line eventually shrink and

opponent or rally their own squad. That’s when

disappear. It takes thousands of shots with

muscle memory and those hours of constant

mechanical adjustments and improvements

practice take over. That’s when the pure shooter

along the way, but once forged, a confident

emerges. :: 18

3 CAM JOHNSON | BUCKINGHAM COUNTY CAM JOHNSON MAY NOT BE the most natural shooter in Central Virginia, but the fact is, Johnson can transform into whatever the Knights need from him. So when Buckingham had a need for some outside shooting, they turned to Johnson. “It really came about this year,” Johnson said. “Last year it was a lot of playing in the post because we had some guys who could slash to the basket so my role last year was more playing inside and rebounding.” With Tarian Ayers running the show and L.A. Briley also attacking from up top or on the wing, Johnson moved underneath the basket to clean up on the boards where he hauled in 8.6 per game. But during the summer, as part of his AAU regimen, he tried to brush up his 3-point shot and turn it into a weapon. The versatile athlete who is also a football and baseball standout did just that. “I was able to (take time to) expand my game and my coach encouraged me to develop my shot a little more,” Johnson said. With that skill set improved, he moved to the perimeter and became a particularly deadly clutch long-range shooter. The Knights leaned on Timmy Randolph and Dre Scott down low, which forced teams to give extra attention to the big men. “It just set up a lot of open looks for me from outside,” Johnson said. Johnson took advantage, leading the Knights to a regular season and tournament championship in the James River District, creating a matchup nightmare in the process where he could back down smaller guards or blow past big men who tried to defend him out front. Johnson’s collegiate future may be tied to football, but he proved he could get it done any number of ways on the hardwood in 2013. ✖

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MEGAN COMER | MONTICELLO MEGHAN COMER HATES BEING told it’s time to pack it in for the night after Monticello’s practices are over. “She’s a kid that stays in the gym for 45 minutes or an hour every night (after practice),” said Monticello coach Josh McElheny. “She’d stay longer but I have to tell her that it’s time to go home. She’ll literally shoot there all night long.” Comer is the outside threat that combined to form Monticello’s incredible threeheaded offensive monster that sparked the Mustangs to an unbeaten run through the Jefferson District and the JD tournament as well as a Region II championship. When combined with Molly Shephard’s efficiency underneath and Bridgett Holleran’s ability to attack from the top of the key, on the fastbreak or on the wing, Comer can be a dangerous, dangerous weapon. “She gets clean looks at baskets — sometimes she doesn’t realize how tall she is,” McElheny said. “It’s a huge advantage that she can raise up and shoot that jumper.” Comer burst on the scene last year as a freshman starter along with Shephard, who developed this year into the Jefferson District and Region II player of the year. Comer is a little more calculated and subdued than her post counterpart, but that reserved nature isn’t indicative of the incredible matchup problems she can give opposing defenders. This year she averaged 10.4 points (leading the team in 3-pointers) and 4.5 rebounds per game. “She’s one of those players you just can’t guard,” McElheny said. “The more confidence she gets, the better she can be. By her senior year she could be unstoppable at the high school level.” If Comer can build on the last two years, she’s well on her way to doing just that. ✖

3 :: 20

3 BOBBY FORD | MADISON COUNT Y MADISON COUNTY HAS HAD TO rebuild things the last two seasons around an insideoutside core of junior guard Bobby Ford and junior post standout Matt Temple. There were some growing pains along the way, but the Mountaineers’ offense, in particular, seemed to click and produce big numbers in a tough Bull Run District. “We’ve been working really hard on both ends of the floor,” Ford said. “But it seems to come more naturally on offense. It runs pretty smooth.” Ford is a big reason for that. He’s an adept scorer who has the ability to create his own shot, often from beyond the arc where he poured in 63 3-pointers on the year despite drawing the other teams best perimeter defender in every contest. “I’ve always liked to shoot 3s ever since I was little,” “Once I got to the high school level though I realized I could shoot and coach wanted me to take those shots so I worked on it a lot more.” The hard work has paid off as Ford has emerged as one of the area’s best young guards, and with he and Temple slated to be back next year along with a more seasoned supporting cast, Madison County should be able to capitalize on that hard work even more in the 2013-2014 campaign. Like Miller’s Travis Hester, Ford doesn’t like to be defined as strictly a shooter. His ability to defend and to put the ball on the floor and create occasionally gets overshadowed by his big scoring numbers — he averages more than 15 points per game. But he also led the Mountaineers in assists and steals this season. “I don’t think of myself as a 3-point shooter — just as a basketball player,” Ford said. “I like to do everything on the court.” So far in his career, he certainly has. ✖

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Covenant’s 200 free and medley relays of Alex Ern, Richard Coppola Eli Holstege, and Ben Holstege, placed 6th and 5th respectively. All five swimmers with individual events posted best times.

Eli Holstege finished his storied high school swimming career on a high note at the VISAA Championship. There he placed third in the 50 meter freestyle and won the 100 breaststroke in a time that qualified him as an automatic All-American. Eli always displays the good sportsmanship and work ethic fostered at Covenant that paved the way for his next step, swimming for Calvin College this fall.

“Getting my body physically ready is just 10% of the challenge. I’d like to thank everyone who has helped me to ace the remaining 90%, with a special thanks to The Covenant School for preparing me for the next step as an athlete and as a person.”

THE COVENANT LOWER SCHOOL | Pre-K through Grade 6 THE COVENANT UPPER SCHOOL | Grades 7 through 12 175 Hickory Street Charlottesville, Virginia 22902 434-220-7330 1000 Birdwood Road Charlottesville, Virginia 22903 434-220-8125


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PARKER MORRIS | STAB PARKER MORRIS BUILT HIS reputation as a shooter at Western Albemarle before he transferred to St. Anne’s-Belfield. Western is where the lanky freshman showed early confidence from beyond the arc in his two seasons with the Warriors — no matter what situation he faced. But the thing that got lost when people talked about the second team All-Jefferson District shooter — and this happens with a lot of big-time scorers — was that he plays pretty fierce defense. “I think particularly on the defensive end — he’s able to disrupt a lot,” said St. Anne’s-Belfield coach Brian Kent. “We don’t keep track of this, but he gets his hands on a lot of balls — he gets a lot of deflections. I think it’s a great stat because it shows the type of energy he plays with.” That’s a big reason Morris didn’t miss a beat in the increasingly challenging Prep League this year and was an immediate contributor for the Saints. He also grew a few inches and he didn’t lose that pure shooting touch. “He can get hot,” Kent said. “He’s a very streaky, rhythm type shooter. He can shoot off screens a lot, he can elevate. Parker is more of a shoot off the move type guy.” STAB is in the process of trying to take advantage of that more next year too. They’re developing some young point guards who’s emergence could allow Morris to handle the ball less and create more open jumpshots and scoring opportunities for the versatile guard. Throw on top of that Morris’ continuing efforts to improve in the offseason through weight training. “He’s trying to get stronger,” Kent said. “That’s just going to improve the defensive side of his game, the ability to take more contact in the air and continue to take people off the dribble.” ✖

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3 TRAVIS HESTER | MILLER If anyone has gotten used to the refrain of “shooter” being yelled by an opposing coach whenever he enters the game or touches the ball or even gets open, it’s Travis Hester. Miller’s left-handed gunner can barely remember a time when it hasn’t happened. “Every time I’ve stepped on the floor I heard echoes and echoes of ‘shooter’,” Hester said. “It stuck with me so I had to keep getting better at it. I take a lot of pride that that’s my best asset.” Hester first broke onto the high school scene as a sophomore at Western Albemarle back in the 2009-2010 season, and he made an impact immediately as a shooter. He was the perfect complement to the two-headed monster of Christian Pierce and Dante Crawford on that Western squad whose run ended in the state quarterfinals against New Kent. Hester headed to Miller shortly thereafter, intent on finding a home in Division I basketball. After three years, the move has paid off, with Hester headed to Hofstra University to play for the Pride next year. He’s become a much more versatile player, flashing an ability to attack off the dribble by creating for the top-notch big men he’s played with at Miller from Hippolyte Tsafack (Memphis) to Brice Kofane (Providence) to Tony Washington and Isaac Copeland this season. “I had to work on my weaknesses and get stronger, quicker and jump higher,” said Hester. “With defense, I think I’m getting better at that. I’m trying to work on everything so I can be a complete player.” For now though, that left-handed jumper is still his calling card. Which is far from a bad thing. ✖ :: 24




DARIUS WATSON ISN’T YOUR typical prep gunner. He’s got the height to play in the post, but instead he uses that advantage to do serious damage from beyond the arc by elevating above smaller defenders. At a school with a long history of great scorers, Watson carried the torch admirably, occasionally single-handedly decimating teams with explosive outings like he did in 2012 against Fluvanna in the JD title game (7-for-14 from the 3-point line en route to 21 points). He averaged 13.5 points per game this season and helped carry a young supporting cast in a perilous Jefferson District. ✖

GARY MORRIS | WMHS YOU CAN READ MORE ABOUT MORRIS back on page 11, but it’s hard to build a list of great shooters in the area without including the guy who might be the best in the public school ranks. Morris is an all around scorer who averaged nearly 18.2 points per game during the regular season and took his game to another level in the playoffs, including back-to-back 35-point outings in the semifinals and finals of the Bull Run District tournament. In the final he buried six of seven 3-point attempts … before halftime. ✖



HISTAND WAS FAR FROM the best known name on the Miller girls’ roster coming into the year. With reigning Scrimmage Play player-of-the-year Taylor Sandidge, Radford-bound Whitney Martin and Rachel Odumu all back, the Mavericks had talent to spare. But the Monticello transfer made her impact as a 3-point specialist, burying nearly 50 percent of her shots from beyond the arc as she kept defenses honest all season long. If Histand can build on her 3-point prowess and add a few more dimensions to her game, she’s got the potential to be a dangerous guard for Miller in 2013-2014. ✖



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WESTERN ALBEMARLE HAD AN ARRAY of threats from beyond the arc in 2012-2013, including leading scorer Chase Stokes and Eli Sumpter. But Maynard developed into one of the most confident young shooters in Central Virginia and proved his worth in the clutch with a game-winning 3-pointer in the Jefferson District semifinal against Charlottesville that helped the Warriors earn an overall No. 1 seed in the Region II tournament. The scary thing for the new-look Jefferson District? All three of those options — Stokes, Sumpter and Maynard are poised to return next year. ✖

Academic Edge sponsored by hargrave military academy

March’s Academic Athlete of the Month: Madison County’s Drew Kelliher Madison County senior swimmer Drew Kelliher qualified in two different individual events this season for the Group AA/A VHSL championships. That’s no easy task considering that the Mountaineers didn’t even have a swim team until two years ago. But high achievement is par for the course for the Madison standout, who is ranked at the top of his class with a 4.5 GPA as part of the Blue Ridge Virtual Governor’s School. In

that capacity, he’s turned his attention to cystic fibrosis as part of his year-long senior learning project. He’s running a Cystic Fibrosis 5K Run and Walk on the Madison County cross country course as part of the project and doing work in the field related to exercise and the disease. Kelliher, who also runs cross country for the Mountaineers, plans to head to North Carolina State University and study engineering or material science while in Raleigh.

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LOGISTICS When Monticello first installed it’s turf field back in 2009, it was a watershed moment for area public schools. Suddenly, schools were scrambling to ramp up efforts that were already underway to install their own because of the incredible logistical impact that an artificial surface has on what an athletic program can do. Monticello was the first public school domino to fall (locally, St. Anne’s-Belfield and Woodberry Forest both had turf fields installed before that) but the next four fell quickly, with Western Albemarle, Albemarle and Charlottesville adding turf surfaces in subsequent years. Fluvanna County also got in on the action when the Flucos moved into the new campus on Route 53 that gave every program a fresh start this year. “It’s exciting — we’d love to have two,” said Fluvanna athletic director Scott Morris. “You hate to be greedy but one’s great. We’re enjoying what we’ve got. It’s 100 percent different than last year.” There’s no getting around the fact that taking care of natural fields is a tall task, and with at least four programs sharing a single game surface in the spring now (boys and girls lacrosse, boys and girls soccer plus their junior varsity counterparts) the toll on grass fields throughout the area is drastically different than in years past, before the full

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development of those programs. Schools that don’t have girls and boys lacrosse programs seem to be able to mange grass fields better than the schools that don’t and that extended use in the spring is an obvious culprit. While you can make it work with a natural surface as schools have for years, it’s clear now that there’s a more efficient way. “There’s a big difference between wanting and needing — it’s like owning a home in that sense,” said Albemarle athletic director Deb Tyson. “We had wanted the field turf for a long time for obvious reasons – when you schedule a game it’s going to get played unless there’s lightning, there’s no wear-and-tear from a month-to-month standpoint (or) the fertilizing, the aerating that go into a typical Bermuda grass field.” With turf, seasonal changes and wear and tear don’t slow down games or limit practice time, and that’s a huge help. But a turf field is far from the only facility overhaul that can have a seismic impact on an athletic program. Gym practice space is also difficult to come by — especially during the winter months – with some

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schools fielding up to three teams of girls and boys basketball squads (ninth grade, junior varsity and varsity). Fluvanna lived through that reality for years, coordinating games and practice schedules around the venerated Shoebox that, while it oozed with nostalgia, was a poor solution for today’s athletic programs. That’s no longer a problem in Fluvanna’s cavernous gym. “We actually have practice space to be able to practice the boys and girls teams at the same time — we don’t have to practice in shifts,” Morris said. “Which is another positive thing, our kids are getting home earlier. Our space is so much better for us to get prepared (to play) other teams.” Gameday operation also usually gets some attention during facility upgrades as well, mostly with an eye toward improving safety. Any number of safety issues could become a concern when a school hosts a game, and those events usually demand a great deal from administrators and security officials. When upgrades happen and they help improve that situation, it ends up being a critical benefit to the school, as it has been at

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Albemarle where they’ve improved traffic flow into the gym and tapped into the bus lot parking in the process. “In terms of game management it’s a lot more simple too, you can funnel everyone through one gate for security, supervision purposes and for general entertainment with one ticket price for all the events,” Tyson said. “It’s just a better, nicer and safer environment. Having anything less than that is a real challenge.”

OPPORTUNITY While logistical improvements are critical to running an athletic program on a daily basis, there’s also a higher calling for many of these facility upgrades. They can create opportunities for entire communities, ranging from the youngest athletes in the pee-wee ranks on up to juniors and seniors looking to make it to the next level through combine opportunities. “The biggest gain is the community,” said Monticello athletic

“IT ALLOWS YOUR YOUNGER KIDS A CHANCE TO DEVELOP BECAUSE NOW THEY’VE GOT ACCESS TO THINGS THAT WOULD COST THEM IN THE PRIVATE SECTOR.” -- FITZGERALD BARNES director Fitzgerald Barnes. “It allows your younger kids a chance to develop because now they’ve got access to things that would cost them in the private sector.” That seems to be the driving force behind how Barnes and other decision makers at Monticello direct each improvement made to the schools’ complex. The turf field was trumpeted as a critical solution for pee-wee football programs and it’s turned into just that with Central Virginia Pop Warner making extensive use of the facility since it was installed. Soccer programs have also benefited in a big way, taking advantage of the turf at Monticello regularly on weekends. Similar programs have relocated to Western, Charlottesville and Albemarle too (Boys Middle School Lacrosse calls Albemarle’s entire span of fields, including the turf, home on Sundays in spring) as they’ve installed the surface. Monticello has since spearheaded the installation of a covered set of batting cages next to the baseball field that should also allow local Little Leagues to develop young hitters regardless of the weather. In an environment where more and more families are basing home-buying decisions on school facilities and programs, schools have to be competitive to hold onto top-notch student athletes. Throw in the private schools in this area that already have incredible spaces at their disposal as a recruiting tool and there is an imperative for the area’s public schools to maximize their potential. “Facilities are a big factor,” said William Monroe baseball and boys basketball coach Mike Maynard. :: 32

This year, everyone who wanted to got in at the JD championships hosted in Palmyra. Plus, facilities that can attract tournaments and events can mean a fiscal impact for the community at large. “Now you’re brining added tax dollars to the community because people are eating — we came early and stopped at a restaurant in Fluvanna,” Barnes said at the JD tournament. “You’ll start to see some economic benefits from having this gym.”


“When you want to hire a good mind (for) football, basketball, baseball, whatever, one of the first things you look at is the facilities. Do the kids like them, do they want to be there? If you have a bad facility it’s easy for a kid to look (elsewhere) and leave. When its bad, you have a hard time convincing everyone to stay.” Maynard’s programs have benefited from the installation of a new floor for the gym and the complete overhaul of the school’s outdoor facilities that included a brand new baseball field that was a colossal improvement over the previous complex and changed the face of Monroe baseball. The Dragons won a state title in their first season in the new stadium. The benefits beyond the schools are also apparent. Just a year ago, Fluvanna County couldn’t host a Jefferson District tournament because the gym was too small and there weren’t enough locker rooms to accommodate four teams per night during the semifinals. Then last year the Flucos had to turn potential ticket buyers away at the door because the Shoebox filled to capacity during the regional playoffs.


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When it comes down to it, the psychological impact that a new facility has can be just as critical as the economic and logistical effects. While plenty of programs have floundered in top-notch surroundings and stories like Maynard’s program winning a Group A title in the first year in the new stadium are more a factor of a perfect storm of talent and development, there’s no question about the influence a new look can have. “When you pull up to the field it just puts a smile on your face every time you go to practice,” Maynard said. “In my opinion it’s the best baseball field in this area, the field, the dugout, the stands. Greene County was starving for this.” Charlottesville and Fluvanna County have clearly benefited from their facilities overhaul. It’s much less tangible than an economic or logistical improvement, but the Black Knights’ football program, in particular, can attest to the impact new locker rooms and a new turf surface have had on Friday nights after the squad qualified for the playoffs for the first time in a decade. “That’s why we did everything like changing the logo up and getting new uniforms — I think we underrate that as adults, but it matters,” said CHS football coach Eric Sherry. “Kids need to be able to take pride in what they do and it shows. We had one kid in the weight room on my first day. Now we averaged 42 last week.” And that was before the ancient bleachers and press box were ripped out this winter and the process of replacing them with a new set of orange-accented stands. Or the fundraising for a new weight room begins for the Black Knights. Every little improvement matters in a huge way when it comes to prep sports. As that physical landscape changes, the metaphorical one also shifts and improves, which should mean the ascent of Central Virginia sports will continue — as long as communities and donors make a top-flight high school experience a priority. ✖

See a photograph you like? De fensive stand Warriors goalie has more than one trick | By Ryan

At Scrimmage Play we pride ourselves offering the best Two years agoon the and Alex Nolet, as well possible graphics we can get our defender Western Albemarle boys as senior hands on, in both our magazine soccer team was fueled Tom Rogers are all in as well as at our website at by its underclassmen their senior seasons with sophomores and and looking to earn a freshman Region We wantbearing to makethe sure that our II bid, somebrunt ofhave the work load.opportunity thing that Orange readers the same Now later, County snatched away totwo haveyears these photos. forwards Aaron Myers from them in the Simply visit our smugmug website at scrimmageplay.

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Western Albemarle’s Kai Shin hauls

in a shot during his team’s 1-1 tie


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Our students know that the challenges they face every day as scholars, artists, athletes, and citizens help to prepare them for their lives ahead. Our diverse community allows students to discover that surrounding yourself with cultures different than your own can be the best education of all.

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Free Throws Grinding it out

Wrestling programs thrive in post season depsite numbers By Bart Isley

Madison senior J.P. Utz came away with a second place showing in the Group A tournament. (John Berry)

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Instant success in wrestling is incredibly difficult to come by. Sure, there are exceptions like Kai Shin’s incredible season for Western Albemarle in 2011-2012, and a handful examples in the lower weight classes. But generally, it’s not a sport you can just pick up. It often requires years of hard work to become capable of placing in district tournaments, making an impact on the state scene or, in certain cases in particularly tough weight classes, even winning a match. “I’ve talked some guys into coming and some of them have stuck with it,” said Covenant coach Colin Anderson. “But a lot of them haven’t. The ones they stick with it, they grow fast. But it really takes something — some courage — to do it.” Central Virginia isn’t renowned as a powerhouse in the sport across the state. There is excellent wrestling down at the beach that produced current mixed martial artis and former NCAA Division 1 champion Bubba Jenkins. There’s Christiansburg down in the New River Valley and Grundy in the southwest corner of the state. But Central Virginia’s top-flight wrestlers are few and far between. This year, Orange County produced a pair of state placers and Madison County had a state finalist. Powhatan has dominated the Jefferson District largely with two-straight team titles and got a champion out of Jake Tomlinson this year in the Group AA tournament. William Monroe has been on the rise — including Doug Sizemore advancing to the state finals in 2012 — but has to wrestle against a storied Strasburg program in district play. Throw in strong individual performances at Blue Ridge and Woodberry over the years, and there are a number of bright spots. But on the whole, there isn’t the profile for wrestling that there is in some other regions in the state, and despite a robust middle school program

that includes the Cavalier Wrestling Club’s 90 athletes in eighth grade or younger. Bringing out numbers isn’t enough either. Coaches have to find athletes who are willing to tough it out in a sport that rarely brings instant gratification. “We’ve started building our middle school team — we’ve had 12 little guys, fifth through eighth grade getting into the sport and I’m hoping that pays off down the road a few years,” Anderson said. “I find that most kids around here don’t really know a lot about wrestling. I mean in Nebraska where I’m from, in the winter time we had basketball and wrestling. So if you weren’t a basketball player you were a wrestler.” Anderson has done an admirable job at Covenant as most area coaches have in trying to get as many wrestlers on the mat as possible. The Eagles even produced a 2012 state finalist Josiah Zodhiates that’s now wrestling for Virginia Military Institute. This year, the Eagles were loaded with competitors in the lighter weights and struggled to fill the higher classes, but they’ll bring back all but one senior, including some talented young wrestlers who’ve built some solid camraderie. The toughest challenge for Central Virginia wrestling is overcoming that lack of depth. While one great wrestler can get himself to a certain height, getting over the hump is a challenge. Madison’s J.P. Utz is a testament to that. The Mountaineers’ state finalist could have benefited greatly from more mat time against quality opponents from his own roster, a luxury many teams Central Virginia squads face at the highest levels enjoy. That forces wrestlers to push themselves to the limit each and every day on their own. Getting those other guys in the room could have a seismic impact — but they’ll have to be patient too. Success doesn’t come easy very often on the mat. ✖

Success stories begin here.

Success Story: Kareem Jackson Dating back to 1954 when Steve Meilinger was selected by the Washington Redskins with the eighth overall pick, 11 players have attended Fork Union Military Academy and been selected in the first round of the NFL Draft. In 2010, the Houston Texans used their first round pick, the 20th overall to select Kareem Jackson. Just four years before that, Jackson was hard at work at Fork Union looking to find to the right college. When Jackson arrived to play for John Shuman’s postgraduate football team in 2006. he was a running back. During his senior year as Westside High in Macon, Georia, he put together 1,436 rushing yards, 256 receiving yards and 22 total touchdowns. Shuman and his staff saw great potential in Jackson’s abilities and turned him into a full-time defensive back. It was an instant fit and Jackson hauled in five interceptions for the Blue Devils that fall and rose to No. 17 nation-

ally by With offers from Akron, Bowling Green, Connecticut, Ohio and Vanderbilt, Jackson choose to sign with Alabama. In his three years for the Crimson Tide, Jackson started almost every single game. He had three picks as a freshman, 44 tackles and 10 passes defended as a sophomore and 27 tackles and nine passes defended as a junior en route to helping Alabama win the 2009 national title. Since joining the Texans, Jackson has started all but three games and compiled 166 tackles, 32 passes defended and seven interceptions, playing a large role in making Houston’s defense one of the best in the NFL. In just seven years Jackson went from unsure of what position he’d play and what college he’d attend to becoming an elite cornerback on the biggest stage there is. As the saying goes at Fork Union, grind now, shine later.

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Save it for later

Don’t bemoan going up against the greats, savor it


tories matter more than awards. It’s not something you always understand when you’re in high school, especially in an environment like Charlottesville where so much emphasis is put on achievement. I remember being frustrated in high school because I felt like moving to a school halfway through my high school career kept me from winning some academic awards — it’s a pretty natural feeling. And achievement itself isn’t bad at all, that’s not what I’m saying. We spend a good part of our 40 pages each month recognizing or handing out awards of our own. But when you’re 30, very few people are going to be interested in what awards and district championships you piled up. It’s just not going to matter to most folks. What is going to matter is the experience and the stories you picked up along the way. That’s why I was stunned to see the handful of athletes and parents complaining in a mid-January Wall Street Journal article about racing against Missy Franklin. The 17-year old who won five medals at the London Olympics is back in the prep ranks in Colorado after maintaining her amateur status by not accepting endorsement offers that rolled in after her incredible performance on the sport’s largest stage. While a host of swimmers were excited about swimming next to and competing with Franklin, a few were frustrated. One mother told the Journal “It’s sort of defeating. She won so many gold medals. I don’t know what you’re there to prove.” Bonnie Brandon, a swimmer who graduated recently after battling Franklin during her career, said “It’s really frustrating when Missy kind of shines above everything. She’s No. 1 in the world, and No. 1 in the state, and then I’m No. 2 in the state … It’s just hard being in close proximity.” I get what Brandon is saying. But she’s being short-sighted. There are a lot people who can say they were great high school swimmers — or even collegiate standouts like Brandon is at Arizona now. But the experience of competing against an all-time great like Missy Franklin? That’s on another level — a level well beyond a state title or a top-ranking. Going toe-to-toe with Missy Franklin is something your grandkids are going to want to hear about. I remember my uncle telling my brother and I about playing on the same high school team as former Washington Redskins and UNC running back Kelvin Bryant. Bryant rushed for more than 4,000 yards in the USFL and another 1,000 in the NFL and played alongside Lawrence Taylor on some of the finest teams North Carolina ever fielded. My uncle claimed that Bryant destroyed him once in a drill, but the talented back was slightly hurt himself, prompting all the team managers and trainers to sprint to his side while my uncle writhed in pain by himself a few yards away. I’m not sure the story is real, but it’s one of my favorites from childhood. I don’t really care if my uncle started (he did), was an all-district linebacker (no clue) or won a state title (didn’t). But the fact that he played alongside Kelvin Bryant makes for a great story. He tested himself against the best and played with a true great. But with all due respect to Kelvin Bryant who was Tarboro, North Carolina’s answer to Bo Jackson (his exploits were legendary), Missy Franklin and her five medals make for a

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“Going toe-to-toe with Missy Franklin is something your grandkids are going to want to hear about.” much better story for Brandon or anyone else who jumps in the pool alongside Franklin. Franklin is eligible — she’s done everything right to make sure she is. She just happens to be stunningly good. The mom asked what Franklin had to prove? Forget what she has to prove. Find something to prove to yourself. And in 10 years, enjoy the story. ✖

Bart Isley,


back talk »

What should Missy Franklin have done? Contact Bart at:










A backyard rivalry between the Group A Mountaineers and AAA Hornets sees two programs both looking to improve upon last year and do so with mostly new personnel. Both meetings proved exciting last year, expect the same again.

This out-of-district rivarly has been back and forth the last few years. The Governors are looking to find its Region B qualifying from 2011 after a rebuild last year. Western’s young talent is coming of age and looking poised to find it’s Region II form from 2010.

This was the season opener for both last year. Last year the Patriots came one win away from making the Group AAA tournament while the Mustangs made it to the Group AA quartefinals. Look for Joe Burris (AHS) and Josh Malm (MHS) to make this a great game.

If you’re looking for a team on the rise, a true dark horse at the Division 1 level in the private school ranks, check out a retooled Blue Devils team that is loaded with seniors at critical positions, both in the battery and in the infield.

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Will Strickler

Will Strickler first cut his teeth on the Woodberry Forest golf team, but the Charlottesville native has gone on to much greater heights. After graduating from the University of Florida, Strickler earned his PGA Tour card for the 2011 season. That year he made the cut at the HP Byron Nelson Championship. He joined the Canadian Tour this year and came in second in July’s Dakota Dunes Casino Open. Keep smiling, Will, you’ve made everyone in Charlottesville proud!

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FIVE STADIUMS FIVE BALLPARKS No more gyms, it’s all about the outdoors come the second week of March. Piggy backing off our story about the rampant construction in Central Virginia, we take a look at our favorite stadiums and ball parks. Just remember, just because it’s new, doesn’t mean it automatically tops our list. There’s something to be said for some of the facilities that have a some charachter. ::



Stadiums FIVE Albemarle Sports Complex They seem to be at every single event. While Albemarle has a new turf surface for football, soccer and lacrosse, it’s Albemarle’s fan base is really the x-factor in all its venues. While Louisa and Monticello’s football crowds are perhaps stronger in numbers and Fluvanna and Western basketball pack it in, there’s no more consistent across-the-board student section of support than Albemarle’s fan base. The lineage seems to be passed down year-after-year as a new Patriots students shows up with the tell-tale pole and Uncle Sam hat that always seem to be at the forefront of a group of loud, intense students. Soccer, volleyball, lacrosse — it doesn’t really matter, the Patriots’ fan base supports every ridiculously high achieving team at the school. When Albemarle takes its rightful place as part of the Jefferson District in the 2013-2014 school year, it’s going to re-ignite a lot of great rivalries and that should bring out the best in the Patriots’ student section.

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Stadiums FIVE Massey Sports Complex, Blue Ridge The view. It’s perhaps the most picturesque venue in the entire area. There aren’t any lights and there aren’t many bleachers. Heck, the field is surrounded by a split rail fence and we’ve seen deer chased from the field of play before, so it’s about as simple and natural as it gets in Central Virginia. But with 360-degree views of the mountains of Western Albemarle county and beyond at your disposal, who needs bleachers or lights? Blue Ridge’s football stadium is a perfect spot for fall football and a flawless location for spring lacrosse. While the natural playing surface leaves a little something to be desired sometimes, it’s hard to deny the ambience around the place. With all the fans lined up around the field behind the fence or tailgating out of the back of their cars, Blue Ridge’s outdoor venue has a very neighborhood feel to it. In the spring or fall, it’s awfully easy to spend a Saturday at Blue Ridge and enjoy the outdoors.. ::



Stadiums FIVE Monticello Sports Complex We’re not sure if it’s because we’ve seen what seems like so many big football and spring sports games there, but Monticello’s stadium seems to produce magic a lot of times that we’re out there. With a strong, consistent turnout and a full tailgate on Fridays, Monticello celebrates football in style. There’s the long walk from the school by the football team and the band’s subsequent descent down the hill that creates a certain impromptu pageantry to the proceedings. There are always solid concession options and a turf field that plays the same way every night and doesn’t make things too terribly hard on particularly rainy outings. Monticello was the first public school turf field and the Mustangs are still setting the standard for atmosphere in Albemarle county, and with the emergence of the school’s spring programs of late, that stadium should continue to produce special moments.

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Stadiums FIVE The Jungle, Louisa County The Jungle — as it’s known on Friday nights — is well known as the finest football game atmosphere in Central Virginia. That fact is rarely even argued. But the playing surface is really what sets Louisa’s field apart if you talk to athletes from all sports who’ve played on it. There’s a reason why the crew out there has won national acclaim for the grass field at the center of The Jungle — it’s immaculate. The crew’s efforts — spearheaded by field manager Mike Hopkins — won the 2011 Schools and Parks Football Field of the year award from the Sports Turf Managers Association. They take a lot of pride in the Patriot Bermuda grass field, a strain known for its durability and wear according to a Virginia State General Assembly Resolution from 2012 that recognized the achievement. Not bad for a big patch of grass. But it’s not just grass, not just a stadium. In so many ways, it’s the gold standard of high school venues. ::



Stadiums FIVE Johnson Stadium at Hanes Field, Woodberry Forest The entire campus at Woodberry Forest is a study in seemingly-flawless classic Southern architecture. Like a miniaturized version of a liberal arts college found throughout the states below the Mason-Dixon line. But the stadium at the bottom of the hill, the home to its storied football and lacrosse programs, is the crown jewel. It’s the first up-close visual of the campus and it’s a stunning one. It is also a terrific venue for football and lacrosse, well apportioned for both with stands that manage to be right on top of the action because there’s no track (that’s back up the main road a bit). The turf service plays consistent and fast, a good fit for a pair of well-coached programs that have produced strong Prep League contenders over the past half decade. And when Woodberry and Episcopal’s football programs lock up in November? There’s nothing in Central Virginia quite like it.

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Ballparks FIVE Nelson County Sometimes the backdrop is as important as the field. It’s a bit of a hike from the parking lot to the Governors baseball field, but once you get there, it’s wide open in a way that few parks are. Sitting on the back of a hill, the view (and the wind carries) out into the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains. Nelson’s field has an old school feel that most high school teams will see increasingly less as new facilities pop up throughout the area. There’s next to nothing obstructing the view for any fan. For the longest time, the Governors played the old fashioned way, without an announcer and a PA system. No National Anthem or starting lineups, made it a welcome throwback to the days where it was all about the game and nothing else. But what makes this a unique place to catch a game is the remoteness of the layout. Unless you turned around and looked back to the football stadium and school on the back side of the hill, you’d think it’s just the game, the setting, the players and fans. And that’s what it should be all about, right? ::



Ballparks FIVE Waverly Yowell, Madison County Softball has always been played at Waverly Yowell Elemantry school. You can pick from three approaches at Madison. The terrace on the first base line allows fans look down on the field with a bird’s eye view that is only rivaled by Miller School’s baseball field. On the third base line fans routinely line the fence for a more intimate feel. And those looking for something in the middle have it with the stands and the hill above, also on the third base line. The lights are hung low by comparison to many other fields and there aren’t a lot of them, giving WYES a different look. But what makes the setting in Madison worthwhile is the layered feel and the crowd it packs in on a regular basis. No softball team draws quite like the Mountaineers, making the elementary school on the edge of town the kind of community gathering that make a small town like Madison truly special. And of course, it’s hard to argue with the product on the field year-after-year.

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Ballparks FIVE Swanson Field, St. Anne’s Belfield Much like Camden Yards in Baltimore was the model for the MLB building boom that produced more classic parks like Progressive Field in Cleveland, Comerica Park in Detriot, St. Anne’s-Belfield’s Swanson Field is the model for high school parks. The best new high school facilities have the feel of a minor league or small college venue. Swanson Field stands out for a number of reasons. For starters, this isn’t a new field by a lot standards as it’s nearly 15 years old. Nonetheless, it still maintains its sheen. It has modern dugouts, a solid grandstand for a small private school, a scoreboard that lists each batter stepping to the plate. The outfield is decorated with accomplishments in the way that adervtisements stand out in the minor league fields. But what makes Swanson Field is it’s immaculately kept grass and infield. Add to it an irregular outfield layout with tall outfield fences set on top of a hill that looks over a completely renovated campus, and you have a complete package. The product that STAB has routinely put on the field matches its surroundings. ::



Ballparks FIVE Porterfield Park, Orange County Orange County has the best old school field you could ask for. Porterfield Park is ancient in high school terms as the site dates back more than 70 years. But it’s the quirks that give it all the character. For starters, the first baseline is a spectator friendly layout unique to any high school where the fan sits inside the fence with an unobstructed view. You can’t be close to the field without paying attention. That’s a good thing, something that you find increasingly less as new parks get built. The third baseline is also great, but has a grass layout instead of the concrete boardwalk that stretches along the other side. Then you have the biggest outfield in the area, particularly after you get away from the foul pole lines. All fly balls hit to center field can conceivably be tracked down. Any homerun hit is more than earned and anyone that goes deep to center becomes a legend. When it comes to a truly one of kind experience for both players and fans, the Hornets have it.

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Ballparks FIVE William Monroe’s Sports Complex William Monroe has a lot to be proud of after the Dragons broke in their first year at their new complex with a Group A championship. But it’s the combination of the baseball and softball field that make the new venue in Stanardsville exceptional. Yes, foul balls can be problematic when both teams play at the same time. But rarely do the baseball and softball team’s get to play in the same vicinity, much less in the same complex. There are stands on the foul lines for both fields and bringing the two together is a well designed hub that features the conessesion stand. Modern dugouts, new lights and well-manicured fields have both teams playing in luxury. But for the fans, you cannot argue with view. The single biggest oversight for both fields previously was that home plate faced toward the school. Now both face outward with the Blue Ridge Mountains as the back drop. In all, Monroe’s new toy rivals any in the area and it’s surroundings only amplify things. ::


Volume 4, Issue 5  

The latest edition of Scrimmage Play magazine featuring William Monroe basketball, the area's 3-point shooting standouts and a look at facil...

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