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Even the most harden leaders would wince at how the Raiders' season ended against Colonial Forge in Manassas during the semi-finals of the Northwest Regional playoffs on Nov. 16.
Even after blocked PAT, SJ still claims best season in years
© Gainesville TimesStonewall Jackson varsity football head coach Mike Dougherty is a nice guy but he isn't known for being overly sentimental.
Yet even the most harden leaders would wince at how the Raiders' season ended against Colonial Forge in Manassas during the semi-finals of the Northwest Regional playoffs on Nov. 16.
A blocked extra-point attempt at the end of regulation, with no time left on the clock, served as doomsayer for Stonewall after the home team drove 80 yards down field in 56 seconds for a touchdown at the end of regulation.
"My heart broke for them," said Dougherty.
The fifth-year coach offered his thoughts on the season as a whole last week after he had a few days to digest his group's best overall year since 2004.
Two generations of Raiders have come and gone through the doors at the 40-year-old high school off of Rixlew Lane since the last time Stonewall made the playoffs eight years ago.
No players on this year's football team was even out of elementary school back then.
Recalling the play that ended Stonewall's season, Dougherty explained that Stonewall used the same field goal-style formation it successfully used four other times that game.
"Definitely: the kid made a play," he said. "We didn't do anything different. That kid, in that moment, just snuck between" two players on the outside line.
On offense, quarterback Greg Stroman's future is particularly bright and he proved to be perhaps the area's best all-around offensive threat as he won the Cedar Run District Player of the Year title.
The junior tallied 35 touchdowns this season, including 21 in the air and 14 on the ground.
He completed 134 out of 225 passes for 2,038 yards and rushed 153 times for 1,013 yards.
Among those passes, 50 completions fell into the hands of senior wide receiver J.R. Washington, who picked up 905 yards and 10 touchdowns to lead the receiving crew.
Fellow senior Reuben Osei caught another four touchdowns, including the last one of the year.
Senior Dezmon Hopkins roped in another pair while juniors Justin Baird and Kaleb Prejean, senior Aaron Aggrey and sophomore Hirk Williams grabbed one each.
Only twice did a fumble by Stroman result in a turnover and he threw 10 interceptions through 11 games.
Like Battlefield quarterback Ryan Swingle used to do in Haymarket, Stroman didn't just serve as the team's leading quarterback but its punter too.
He averaged 34.6 yards per kick on 22 kicks, including a long of 54 yards. Three of his kicks pinned opponents inside their own 20-yard-line.
While Stroman ran for the most touchdowns with 14, his classmate Javon Purvis picked up another seven and senior C.J. Burnes ran in three more.
Senior Keenen Boyce and sophomore Ekoue Aziaba also both crossed the plane for Stonewall.
After 17 years of coaching, Dougherty declared that "this group of seniors was the best I've ever had."
Even in bad situations, "They would just look at you and say, 'We've got this.'"
It wasn't just them either.
In fact, the junior Stroman told Dougherty that during the Raiders' final drive designed to bring the would-be game-tying touchdown.
Stonewall may have some rebuilding to do next year as three of the group's top four receivers are set to graduate.
Whoever takes their spots will likely have a solid crew in the backfield to lead them, including Stroman and Purvis.
What Dougherty and the team as a whole need from the next batch of receivers is the same level of grit shown by the Class of 2013.
"They've got to commit the same way those guys did," said the coach.