Resilient Raiders ‘more than commendable’

Published 4:13 pm Friday, November 3, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

A challenging 2023 season came to a close Friday, Oct. 27, for Southampton Academy’s varsity football team, but the lessons learned from the year can serve Raiders players for a lifetime.

SA was playing for a playoff berth Friday in its final regular season game, hosting Blessed Sacrament Huguenot School.

The Raiders were able to keep pace with the Knights for a good portion of the game.

“I think it was a great game right up until the middle of the third (quarter),” Southampton Head Coach Cole Heiderich said, noting that the Raiders trailed only 25-24 at that point, but then the Knights were able to pull away. “I think our guys were just gassed, and BSH had fresh legs to turn to.

“Don’t get me wrong, Blessed Sacrament made more plays and deserved to win — but most of our guys, quite literally, never come off the field after the initial kickoff,” the coach said.

BSH went on to win 54-24.

Still, there were notable standouts on Pillow Field for the home team.

Heiderich noted that senior Sam Sawyer and sophomore Ashton Whitehead had strong performances on the defensive front.

“And Ethan Webb balled-out in nearly every facet of the game,” the coach said of one of his foremost sophomore stars. “I can’t say enough about that kid, in particular. He hasn’t been fully healthy since September and just kept making explosive plays week after week.”

The Raiders finished their 2023 season in the Virginia Eight-Man Football League with an overall record of 4-5.

Heiderich pondered how he would ultimately remember the 2023 Southampton Academy varsity football squad and came up with a word that will shape his memory of the group.

“I think ‘resiliency’ sums it up pretty well,” he said. “We got off to a hot start, lost our starting (quarterback/middle linebacker) in the third game of the season, dealt with more injuries along the way, and the boys just kept plugging along and competing every day. Their response to those challenges was more than commendable, and I know they’ll be better men for it in the long run.” 

And for most of the players on the team, their tenures in a Raider uniform are not over yet.

“We’re just ready to hit the weight room and run it back next year,” Heiderich said. “Big things ahead for these guys.”