After a two-week pause due to COVID cases within the South Lakes JV and Varsity teams, the Seahawks resume practice this week in preparation for a home playoff game against Chantilly.
Before the start of the spring football season, it was determined by VHSL that four teams, instead of the usual eight, would represent each region when playoffs began.
That meant the powerpoint ranking system, which uses a mathematical formula each season to award points for wins, losses, and the results from common opponents would carry even more importance. To be playoff eligible during this shortened season, teams would have to complete a minimum of four games in the event games had to be missed due to a program shutdown. With that out of the way, let’s go back to the week of March 22nd.
“After McLean [March 19], we came in on Monday, had an okay practice, and then found out Tuesday afternoon that some kids had tested positive.”, Coach Jason Hescock recalled, “based on an investigation by the health department it was determined to put the entire JV and Varsity program on pause. There was a lot of damage control within the program because the kids were thinking the season had been canceled…we held a couple of team meetings online and told everyone we are just on pause and our season was not over because we played the four-game minimum for playoff eligibility. We started running all the calculations in the region to determine all the possibilities and scenarios based on the powerpoint system. We have some coaches on staff that are good at looking at the numbers and figured out about 14 different scenarios that could get us into the playoffs and about 7 teams we needed to follow based on common opponents that would determine our status.”
In end, two games mattered on the final night of the regular season; Madison defeated Centreville and T.C. Williams defeated Hayfield. Only Madison advanced to the playoffs out of those four teams. The top four teams in Region D to advance were 1. Madison 2. South Lakes 3. Chantilly 4. Wakefield.
During the pause, the coaching staff still had a plan to keep players motivated as well as check on their overall well-being. “We gave players a 5-day conditioning plan for when we return to practice. For the kids that did test positive, we’ve checked in on them regularly to see how they have been feeling in general outside of football activities. Some kids have felt great throughout and some others were down; one struggled and shows how people are affected differently by COVID no matter how old they are.”
The Seahawks are set to resume practice on Tuesday in preparation for Friday’s home playoff game against Chantilly. “Those with football injuries had time to heal [during the pause] and weren’t getting banged up everyday with practice. That gave typical nagging injuries time to heal, so that was a positive. On the downside, we haven’t been able to maintain conditioning and get better at our everyday drills. We need to be smart on how we proceed once we get on the field and get back to why we are where we are [playoffs]. We just need to get back to the fundamentals.”
The playoff game against Chantilly will be a rematch of the first-round game last season which South Lakes defeated Chantilly 43-40 in double overtime. “They’re going to be angry, bitter, and salty from the loss last year. We made a lot of mistakes in that game last year and had to claw back [down 16 points in the 4th quarter] to win. They have a great defense this year and it should be another close game.”
“It’s the Region Semi-Finals, our goal is not just to make the playoffs but to win the region and then let the chips fly, hope we remain healthy, and advance past that. Our standard is higher than just making the playoffs even in this shortened season.”