Two-time champs end Glenvar’s season

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Jack Leonard goes in for a touchdown as the Glenvar bench erupts in joy.

The Glenvar football team saw another successful season come to an end last Friday with a loss to two-time defending state champion Appomattox County. The Raiders held off the home team, 26-14, in a battle of state powers at Highlander Stadium in the Class 2, Region C championship game.

While the lights went out on Glenvar’s season after the loss, the lights literally went out at Highlander Stadium prior to the game. A power outage left the stadium in darkness for close to two hours prior to the game, which started about a half hour late.

Once the lights went back on the visiting Raiders had no trouble finding the end zone as they jumped to a 17-0 halftime lead. A 32 yard field goal was followed by touchdown runs of 78 and three yards by Omar Bailey and Appomattox was in control at the half. The second touchdown came with nine seconds left in the half.

“That was crucial,” said Glenvar coach Kevin Clifford. “Something happened to the clock, but at the end of the day they made a play and we didn’t.”

But these Highlanders weren’t going down without a fight. Jack Leonard’s nine yard run cut the lead to 17-7 and Glenvar got the ball back on an onside kick. However, they turned it over on their next two possessions and the Raiders added a second field goal to make it 20-7 after three quarters.

“We had five turnovers and you can’t turn it over five times against a team that good,” said Clifford. “Of course, it had a lot to do with them.”

The Highlanders got to within one possession when Leonard broke free for a 43 yard TD run with 3:56 still remaining. That was as close as they would get, and Appomattox put it away with a 51 yard TD pass for the 26-14 final.

Hunter Phlegar holds up the football after causing and recovering a fumble in last week’s game with Appomattox. PHOTOS BY JOHN WACHER

“It was heartbreaking, but it is what it is,” said Clifford. “There were probably 20 times where if we could have made the play, we win the game. It wasn’t one play in particular. A lot of people thought they were going to kill us, but I knew better. We had our chances.”

Leonard finished with 138 yards on 25 carries, and he ended his season with GHS records in rushing and scoring. He finished with 2,717 yards rushing and scored 43 touchdowns in 13 games, averaging about three and a half touchdowns per game.

Landry Gerbers was 10 for 21 passing for 128 yards. Josh Clifford, Justin Campbell and Leonard had two catches each while Logan Williams, Dakota Francisco, Noah Lovelace and Justin Beckner had one reception each.

On defense Francisco led the team with 19 tackles and Hunter Phlegar had 18 and also forced three fumbles. Colby Street had 16 tackles and Maxx Philpott had eight, including a sack.

This week the All-Three Rivers District team was announced and Philpott was named the Defensive Player of the Year. Also on the first team defense were Hunter Stanley at end, Street at linebacker, Clifford at defensive back and Phlegar as an all-purpose selection. Second team selections were Brandon Saunders on the line, Lovelace at end, Francisco at linebacker, Williams at defensive back and Bradey Loder at punt return.

On offense, Philpott and Clifford both doubled up on first team selections at line and receiver. Leonard was first team runningback and John Shaffer made first team on the line. Second team  honors went to Gerbers at quarterback, Campbell at receiver, Loder at kick return and Kaid Fuhrman at placekicker.

Glenvar will graduate 12 seniors off this team and they’ve had quite a ride. In their four years at the high school the team has won 46 of 53 games, which included a 25 game home winning streak, two district championships, a 10-3 post-season record and a state championship their freshman year.

“It’s a great group, they were a lot of fun to coach,” said Clifford. “They played hard for 48 minutes Friday, just like they have all season. The winning and losing is a temporary thing, and the great part is how you get attached to these young men. After 17 weeks around these coaches and players you really develop a bond, and that’s what I miss when the season is over.”