SHENANDOAH JUNCTION – It’s no secret where Jefferson High School’s football team gets a good chunk of its talented athletes and much of its recent success. All it has to do is look across the street to Wildwood Middle School.
Year in and year out, the Wildwood Mustangs’ football team had enjoyed successful seasons. On Saturday, the team won its fourth-straight Jefferson County Middle School Football League championship, defeating Harpers Ferry Middle School in the title game, 27-8, at Jefferson High School.
The win capped off a second-straight undefeated season for the Mustangs. With Saturday’s win, Wildwood (7-0) has won 19 straight games, counting post-season games.
But it hasn’t always been this way for the Mustangs. Dave Viands, Wildwood’s head coach, said back-to-back undefeated seasons come as a bit of a surprise to him.
“There were years where we’ve really been down,” Viands said. “We’ve put in a lot of work to get to where we’re at now.”
One of Viands’ former players, current Jefferson High quarterback Sammy Roberts, was at Saturday’s game. He enjoyed watching Wildwood’s win over the Tigers.
“We’re proud of the feeder program we’ve put together at Wildwood,” Viands said. “We’re trying to establish a program that, hopefully, keeps the kids together through high school and they stay committed.”
Viands has spent a lot of time building up the program at Wildwood Middle. He’s been in the middle school football coaching system for 20 years. With Saturday’s win, he has completed 21 years of coaching, 13 at Wildwood. He also spent six years as the head coach at Charles Town Middle School.
Saturday’s win over Harpers Ferry wasn’t as easy as the final score indicated. The Mustangs had a bit of a struggle in the first half.
Wildwood didn’t score its first touchdown until Tyion Jacobs scored on a short run from inside the Harpers Ferry 5-yard line. That was less than five minutes to go in the first half. Axel Martinez broke a 59-yard touchdown run with 7.5 seconds left in the half.
The Mustangs led at halftime, 14-0.
“They went man-to-man defense on us and just blitzed seven players,” Viands explained. “With that type of man-to-man defense, we hadn’t seen that before.”
The Mustangs extended their lead to 21-0 with 25.2 seconds left in the third quarter when Martinez threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Titus Murray. At the 4:06 mark of the fourth quarter, Martinez hit Takiem Drake with a 51-yard TD score.
“We started off slow, but we got it together and got back in the game,” Martinez said.
Viands said the Mustangs had to make a few adjustments on defense, but didn’t have a chance to do it until the second half. “It was mostly an adjustment with the kids,” he said.
Harpers Ferry avoided a shutout, scoring the game’s final touchdown with 3:28 left in the contest. Quarterback Ryan Weant threw a 78-yard touchdown pass to Rickford Parker.