The Northside Vikings’ 13 wins this season are a new school record.
Burt Torrence's team knocked off Loudoun Valley last week and now faces James Monroe of Fredericksburg in Saturday’s 3A final in Lynchburg at Liberty University's Williams Stadium.
The Vikings have been loose all week long in practice on the turf at William Fleming, in preparation for the noon kickoff.
“This is a different bunch in many respects, but their greatest attribute is that they are focused on what they do,” Torrence said. “It's really not our opponent or what they do. If we focus on what we do, we'll have an opportunity to win the football game. That's kind of been their theme each and every week. And another great testament to their character is that they've never looked past anyone.”
Northside wide receiver Harold Buckner said: “It's crazy. We knew during our offseason we were going to make it this far. We worked as hard as we could, which just made everything possible. We just have to grind it out and have fun and do what we have to do.”
Northside squares off with a James Monroe team that has been here before, playing in three state championship games in the last five years, winning a title in 2008. This year's Yellow Jackets team has four losses, but Torrence says don't be deceived by the record.
“They're not afraid of anybody. They'll go out and play whoever is willing to jump up inside the lines and to play teams like Essex that will be playing here in Salem on Saturday for the state championship,” Torrence said. “They played North Stafford which is a powerhouse team. They played Petersburg. They've played some really stiff competition, some teams that are winning and faced them head on.”
Saturday's contest should be a sharp contrast in styles. Yellow Jackets quarterback Jay Scroggins has thrown 67 passes in the last two postseason games.
“They're going to throw the football. That's their identity. That's who they are. We're going to play smash mouth football. That's our identity,” Torrence said. “You don't change who you are. They haven't been real effective running the football. That doesn't mean they are not going to try it or do it. The best thing about them is when the play breaks down. If the play breaks down, they're dangerous.”
Buckner added: “Everyone at school is just hyping it up. We're having fun and we're watching film, getting our keys right. It's going to be a crazy weekend.”
Four years after last reaching a state championship game and winning the school's first title, Coach Torrence can grab what would be his second in eight seasons as the Vikings head coach.
“It's not something to take for granted. There are some people that think it's easy to get there,” Torrence said. “It takes a sacrifice from the coaching staff and the players. It's a massive commitment and a lot of things have to bounce your way for that to happen.”