George Washington did not have the unblemished Piedmont District record it wanted, but the Eagles finished as district champions nonetheless.
With an assist from Bassett, which picked up a 16-12 victory over district-leading Magna Vista elsewhere Friday, George Washington’s tidy 49-0 win at Martinsville propelled the Eagles (7-3, 5-1) to the top of the district on the final night of the regular season.
“Something we take a lot of pride in at GW is the district championship,” head coach Nick Anderson said. “We were really heartbroken last week when we didn’t take care of the things we needed to take care of to win it. We were still fortunate to claim the title. This year, we needed a little help. Hopefully, in years to come, we’ll take care of it ourself.”
In the process of defeating the Bulldogs, the Eagles ensured that last week’s letdown would be the only one they’d have against a Piedmont opponent.
“One thing about this team, they put it behind them; they moved on and we had a good week of practice,” Anderson said.
Against Martinsville, a big second quarter from junior quarterback Sha’Kobe Hairston provided almost all of the cushion the Eagles would need.
After a scoreless first quarter, Hairston found junior receiver Zavion King for a 20-yard touchdown pass to open the second quarter.
Hairston also added scoring runs of 13 and 4 yards in the period to build a 21-0 lead. Senior running back Wesley Graves supplied a 14-yard rushing touchdown with 1:29 left to give the Eagles a 27-0 lead at halftime.
Hairston’s third rushing touchdown of the game came with 6:08 left in the third quarter. With a two-point conversion pass to Shawn Watlington, the Eagles went ahead 35-0 to enact a running clock and expedite the rest of the evening.
“Sha’Kobe has been a great leader for us all year,” Anderson said. “He’s a high-energy guy. When he’s playing well, he gets excited, which brings excitement to the rest of the guys. You get excited when you’re fortunate enough to get a quarterback coming through your program who’s like that. It helps on cold nights like tonight where everybody’s shivering and he’s jumping around and hooting and hollering. The stuff he brings that ain’t physical is just as important as his physical ability to run and pass and break tackles.”
Watlington added a 47-yard rushing touchdown later in the third quarter for a 42-0 advantage.
Late in the fourth, with the reserves in for both teams, GW sophomore quarterback Jeb Byrnes tossed a 26-yard touchdown to sophomore receiver Donovan Howard to complete the scoring.
On the home sideline Friday, the Bulldogs dropped their final game of the season and finished winless at 0-10.
Still, coach Bobby Martin praised his players for showing resiliency against GW and throughout the difficult season.
“Those guys had every opportunity to quit and didn’t,” he said. “We’ve just got a lot of building to do. Those seniors laid the foundation.”
Parker Cotton is a sports reporter at the Martinsville Bulletin and Danville Register & Bee. You can reach him at (276) 638-8801 ext. 215. Follow @ByParkerCotton.