The Riverheads Gladiators played host to Lord Botetourt in football last Friday night with a chance to tie Phoebus for the longest winning streak ever among active Virginia High School League schools. Well, the Phantoms can relax because their record will live on.
Lord Botetourt took a 35-21 win over the Gladiators to avenge a loss from a year ago when Riverheads came to Daleville and put 62 points on the Cavalier scoreboard. Riverheads came into the season needing three wins to tie the Phoebus streak, which went from game one of 2006 into the 2011 season, and four wins to tie Charlottesville’s Lane High School, who won 53 in a row without a loss from 1962-67. Lane, which is no longer a school, had two ties during that streak, both against Patrick Henry of Roanoke.
While the Cavaliers reveled in their victory, LB coach Jamie Harless has the utmost respect for Riverheads and what the small Class 1 school in Staunton was able to accomplish. The Gladiators came up one win short of tying the VHSL active school record, but 51 wins in a row isn’t chopped liver.
“They’ve won six state championships in a row and they don’t have fancy facilities,” said Harless. “It’s just a good ol’ country school with an unbelievable amount of community support. It’s quite a place, there were so many people there you couldn’t see a blade of grass. They’re just great, great people and it made me want to stay around and hang out with them.”
The big crowd at Riverheads was treated to an excellent football game. The two teams traded six touchdowns in the first half with Riverheads taking the lead three times and LB answering on each occasion. Jakari Nicely scored on two- and seven-yard runs, then hit Cade Lang for a 33-yard TD pass just before the half to tie the game at 21-21 at intermission.
LB’s defense took over in the second half, shutting out the Gladiators for the final 24 minutes. Nicely scored two more TDs for LB in the third quarter on three- and four-yard runs to salt it away.
Nicely finished with 182 yards rushing on 32 carries and was involved in all five Cavalier touchdowns. Jakari completed all four of his passes for 60 yards, including three to Lang for 41 stripes and the touchdown.
Tristan Overbay had his best game with 108 yards rushing on 21 attempts and Dean Webb was perfect on five extra point kicks.
With the win LB is now 2-1 overall and the Cavaliers will have their work cut out for them again this week as they host Appomattox in Daleville Friday night. The Raiders have won five state championships in the past seven years and are 88-9 over that span. They beat LB in Appomattox last year, 35-14, on their way to an 11-2 season. They’re 1-2 this season with losses to Rustburg and Heritage in past two weeks, but Harless knows they’re not a team to be taken lightly.
“They have a lot of talent, one player committed to Virginia Tech (Tavorian Copeland) and another (Jonathan Pennix) going to Penn State,” he said. “They’re old school. They run the triple option and have a very explosive offense. It will be important for us to tackle everyone who might get the ball.”