— The postgame scene following Warhill's 42-28 football loss Friday to New Kent was reminiscent of a season finale or playoff defeat. Many of the Lions' players were in tears during the postgame huddle.
Despite the homecoming loss on Senior Night, in which Warhill rallied to overcome a 14-0 deficit, the Lions aren't out of postseason contention. Warhill (3-5, 2-5) hung on to its position in eighth place of the VHSL 3A East ratings, one spot ahead of New Kent, (4-4, 3-4), which is seeking its first playoff appearance in 13 years.
"Of course, our goal is to get in the playoffs," Warhill senior linebacker Trey Drummond said. "That hurts a ton. But we still have two more games to go out there. This game hurts a lot."
The Lions will travel to Tabb (seventh in 3A East ratings) Thursday and close the season next week at Bruton. New Kent has a much more difficult path to claim that eighth and final playoff bid with games left against Poquoson (fifth in 3A East ratings) and Lafayette.
"We have to play our game," Warhill senior lineman Kyle Barkle said. "We have to play tough, physical football like we always do and go out with a bang."
Barkle said Warhill didn't play that brand of football Friday when New Kent scored 22 unanswered points to pry a victory away from the Lions.
New Kent running back Evan Branch had 193 rushing yards on 28 carries with five of the Trojans' six touchdowns in a back-and-forth battle pitting run-oriented offenses.
Branch had touchdown runs of 41, 22, 12, 9, and 30 yards and the latter three came in the fourth quarter including the go-ahead score from 9 yards with 4:11 to play in the game.
New Kent out-gained Warhill 393-192, throwing only one pass and forced three takeaways on Lions fumbles on a wet night at Wanner.
"In the first half, their backs were just breaking tackles," Drummond said. "In the second half, they started getting their linemen to the second level a little bit. Their backs hit the creases and went with it."
C.J. Reeders had the other touchdown for the Trojans on a 65-yard third-quarter score up the gut that put the visitors up 20-14 on the opening play of the second half.
New Kent coach Clark Harrell said the Trojans did most of their damage on a buck sweep run play out of their wing-T offense that Harrell only implemented following a 29-8 defeat to Jamestown Oct. 7. New Kent turned the ball over seven times in that one and Harrell, who led wing offenses in North Carolina for 20 years before running spread at Smithfield High, wanted a more effective way of getting the ball in the hands of his explosive playmakers and keeping it there.
Keeping Warhill's defense guessing, Reeders' big run in the third quarter came on a trap play to the inside.
Still, it was the sweeps to the outside that Branch burned the Lions on consistently.
"That's the play you bet the farm on," Harrell said. "That's what we do. He had some big runs on it because we blocked it pretty well."
Rodney Hudson led the Lions with 132 rushing yards including a 67-yard second quarter touchdown.
Bryce Koob had 12 carries for 57 yards and Karrington Thompson seven for 30 and a touchdown.
Holtzman can be reached by phone at 757-298-5830.
This week's games
Warhill at Tabb (Bailey Field)
Jamestown at Grafton (Bailey Field)
Bruton at Lafayette (Wanner Stadium)*
*Kickoffs at 7 p.m.