The season-long number one team in the state, Brookville, got quite a test last week against Rockbridge County. But the Bees responded to the adversity, passing with flying colors.
They draw an upstart Tunstall team Saturday afternoon that will be looking for a huge upset. But the Bees’ quest for consecutive state titles is alive and well.
When Brookville hosts Tunstall on Saturday in the state semifinals, the Bees will have gone 728 days without a loss. Their last defeat came in December 2010, right before the movie “The Fighter” hit theaters. Since then it's been 26 consecutive knockouts for the champs.
"Everybody is shooting for us. We've got a target on our backs. I think it helps us through the weeks, as we go,” quarterback Kendall Becraft said.
Kaleb Thompson added, "It's scary sometimes because you're always wondering what team might beat you. You want to come out prepared, every game. You practice all week, you work hard."
On Saturday they'll face a Tunstall squad that has won five in a row.
"I know Coach Brown real well, and his staff. We've hung out in the past and we've shared some ideas. We've bounced some things off of each other. We're kind of copying each other as we progress,” Brookville coach Jeff Woody said.
The Bees’ defense is an overlooked but talented unit. They've given up just about 11 points per game this season thanks to a fast, swarming group of players.
"I think that speed has helped us tremendously. We're really fast off the ball, fast all around,” Thompson said.
Brookville's attack starts with four-year starter Kendall Becraft. And it excels thanks to the rhythm between the quarterback and the team's three standout running backs.
"It makes my job a lot easier. Takes some stress off of me. I can hand it to Hilson, Anton or A.C. and they all get the job done,” Becraft said.
It's also a system that is always evolving. They use a ton of pre-snap motion, including one wrinkle the coaches added after watching San Francisco on Monday Night Football.
"Good thing with modern day technology, we could rewind live TV and watch it. And Tuesday we implemented what we saw. We copied that from the 49ers,” Woody said.
Brookville is just two wins away from the school's third state title. And this year's team would be the first in program history to go undefeated in back-to-back seasons.
"We are motivated to do something that no team at this school has ever done. We're going to be around for a while, on the wall, saying that we've done this,” Thompson said.
The next step begins at 1 p.m. Saturday against the Trojans.