Altavista only has one state title in football, but are on the verge of winning another.
The Colonels play for the 1A championship Saturday at noon in Salem.
"Offense sells tickets. Defense wins Championships. That's the motto and that's what we live by," junior linebacker Donavan Montague said.
The Altavista defense has been stingy all season long, posting two shutouts and six games where they held their opponents to seven or less points. And while they gave up 22 this past week to Haysi, they were still able to come-out on top in muddy conditions to punch their ticket to the 1A title game.
"The whole week Coach Scharnus made us focus on not as much as having the field but how we were going to play in the conditions,” senior lineman Ashton Robinson said. “Many people were like Altavista is used to playing on a dry field, speed is not going to work. But we pulled it together. It just had to happen."
Mike Scharnus, Altavista’s head coach said, "We had to change our style a little bit. If we didn't change it we'd probably be slipping and sliding and our kids adjusted well. I feel like after you win these playoff games, each game is a confidence builder and the thing is, Essex is doing the same thing. That's why you meet. Hopefully the two best teams are playing and go from there."
Essex will certainly be the biggest challenge for Altavista this season, with just as much speed as the Colonels and two huge weapons in quarterback Dominek Broaddus and wide receiver Dartanious Jones.
"We will key on them but two guys cannot be a football team,” Montague said. “And I believe all 11 guys can handle two, and if they only have two then I believe we're going to come out and smack them in the mouth and play some football."
Scharnus added, "We're very concerned with their offense. They've got great receivers, great speed. The quarterback can throw it and we've got our hands full. We haven't seen a team like this this year."
It's heart that's driven the Colonels to this final game, where they are ready to bring home their school's second state title. That’s something they want to do not only for themselves, but for the entire community, who's supported them the entire way.
"I really think we have it in us. It's our dream. It means a lot,” Robinson said. “Back in 2009, no one expected us to come out with a 13-1 season and now everyone's expecting us to bring another one home. We can't let the fans, our community down."