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In life, your success is usually based on what you make of your opportunities.
Same with football.
Northside made the most of its opportunities, while Staunton River did not.
As a result, the Vikings walked off their home turf with a 28-8 win over the Golden Eagles.
The victory gave Northside the Blue Ridge District title and a bye in the Division 3 playoffs. The Vikings (4-0 Blue Ridge, 9-1 overall) are seeded second, behind Liberty.
Staunton River (3-1, 7-3) wound up in second place. The loss dropped the Eagles into the fourth seed for Region III, Division 4 (see accompanying box).
The win also stopped a Staunton River six-game winning streak.
Most importantly, the game showcased a Northside team that has every intention of repeating as state champions.
Liberty, Brookville, Richlands and the rest of Division 3, take note.
Northside pretty much had its way with the Eagles, seeded third in Division 4.
At first, however, this game appeared to belong to the lads from Moneta.
On their opening possession, the Eagles moved the ball with precision, until the Viking defense stiffened on its own 20 yard line.
Stephen Hardy’s 38-yard field goal attempt was held up enough by the wind to fall just short.
Northside got in gear toward the end of the first quarter. Quarterback Adam Hardister hit tight end Dakota Jackson on a screen, which was good for 20 yards.
A face-mask call against Staunton River set up Hardister and Company on the Eagle 3-yard line.
A steady diet of Jeremy Williams and Tyler Goodman runs set up the Vikes on the five yard line at the end of the quarter.
Williams dove home for the TD, to open the quarter with a 7-0 Northside lead.
The Vikes added to that margin following Will Holladay’s recovery of a SR fumble on the Eagle 40.
On the next play from scrimmage, Hardister found Jackson on a seam route. The strapping junior turned on the jets and outraced the Golden Eagle secondary for a 14-0 edge.
Seventy seconds later, that lead was cut in half.
Jarodd Nichols took the ensuing kickoff on a 49-yard return to the Northside 36.
Nichols also stepped in to quarterback from the wildcat.
A pitch to Bobby Hobbs picked up 11 yards.
Then Nichols called his own number, dancing through the left side of the Northside defense, for a 26-yard score.
With the very large Staunton River crowd now energized, Hardister played the role of wet blanket.
He led the Vikes on an eight-play, 76-yard drive that culminated in Hardister’s 11-yard touchdown strike to Zach Hamilton.
Staunton River’s last gasp of the half came when Nichols launched a bomb that was just beyond the reach of a diving Cody Jones.
The coup d’grace came early in the fourth quarter. Jackson scooped up an Eagle fumble deep in River territory.
Two plays later, Williams scored his second touchdown of the evening, going in over left guard.
River had its chances. For instance, Nichols picked off Hardister on a long pass, but the Northside defense held, forcing the punt.
That defense has become the pride of Northside. While it yielded but seven points to the high-flying Eagles, it has averaged 8.4 points given up per game.
“We have a good defense,” said Northside Head Coach Burt Torrence, who pointed out that his team has given up a total of zero third-quarter points over its ten-game schedule.
“They’re really good,” admitted Staunton River Head Coach Chuck Poston. “They’re even better than advertised.”
For a team that has found such success running the ball, it was tough to see River only run for 121 yards against the Vikings.
“We ran hard,” assessed Poston. “We just ran into a buzz-saw.”
-Brian Ellis had 12 tackles to lead Staunton River.
-Jones threw eight times, with four completions for Staunton River. Hardister was 7-for-14. But, the Vike signal caller tossed for 156 yards.
-Meech Coles was held to 50 yards on 17 carries.