TIMBERLAKE, Va.—The Brookville Bees have been the top ranked double A team in the state for most of the season. This week, Jeff Woody's unbeaten Bees hooked up with Rockbridge County, a team that took Brookville to the wire last season in the playoffs before falling 19 to 14.
In the second quarter, after a Rockbridge touchdown, Brookville was forced to punt. They tried the fake but the Cats were ready and waiting for a key stop. It was Rockbridge ball at the Bees' 43 yard line.
The Wildcats did a great job running the clock in the first half. They got it all the way to the one in the closing seconds. Porter Abell stretched outside and dove for the line. Brookville perhaps on upset alert down 17-7 at the break.
Jason White said, "We told our kids all offseason that we were on the cusp of a state championship. They knew that, they believed that. We knew this week we had to come slay the giant."
But the Bees are a battle tested bunch. They got a one yard score from Phillip Watts on the opening drive of the third to pull within three. Rockbridge was then forced to punt. Watts came flying in for the block. Wil Friedman recovered but was short of the first down. Brookville took over at the 32.
Phillip Watts said, "Couple punt returns earlier in the game, Coach Lovelace called me over and said 'Phil we're going to send you on one.' He said do what I do, went back there and blocked it."
Jeff Woody said, "That was crucial. I went up to him right after the game and I told him, 'Phillip that was a key play.' He's the type of guy, as an athlete, he can make things happen."
They got to the 13, handed-off to Anton Payne and he would not be denied. He carried the pile and lunged into the endzone, Bees were up 21-17.
Midway through the fourth, Rockbridge faced a fourth and eight from the Bees 17. Abell bought time and found Cameron Wood for a fantastic catch to keep the drive alive.
Two plays later, Abell flew over the pile. Wildcats were back on top 24-21.
So many swings in momentum. Payne headed toward the home sideline shaking tacklers and weaving through the D. A 58 yard run, plus five more for a facemask, and Brookville had first and goal at the five.
Anton Payne described it by saying, "Saw a hole and number one, had to get away from his side, he's a good linebacker. Just saw a cutback lane and tried to stay inbounds. Keep the clock running."
On the very next play, Atkins was on the sweep and the Bees retook the lead 28-24.
Rockbridge was forced to punt and the Bees iced things on offense, winning 28-24 to claim the Region III trophy and the program's 26th straight win.
Watts, "Coach Woody and all of our coaches preach family. We have one heartbeat so play as a team and we're going to get a victory."
White, "They ran the football down our throats. We just couldn't step up and make a stop when we needed to. Hats off to Brookville. Really proud of my kids, lot of fight, lot of heart."
Woody, "It's a testament to the character of these kids. They keep on fighting, they keep their composure. They're winners, they know how to win."
For the second year in a row Rockbridge County gave Brookville almost all it could handle. But the Bees had just enough to pull out a close victory at the end. Last year's season ended in a state championship for the Bees and this year's squad is now only two wins away from a repeat.