The Gridiron Blog brings you the scores, stats and stories from Fredericksburg-area high school football.
Full report: North Stafford falls to Phoebus in overtime of Group AAA semifinal
And please do click here for a full video library from this game.
BY ADAM HIMMELSBACH
HAMPTON—North Stafford quarterback Austin Grebe had already thrown the football over Darling Stadium’s fence in frustration. He had already seen his team’s dream vanish.
He knew it was over. The game. The season. The journey.
But he didn’t want to believe it.
“Do not take this from us!” Grebe yelled toward the officials. “You cannot take this from us!”
But Grebe’s plea was drowned out amid the din of Phoebus High School’s celebration.
The Phantoms had defeated the Wolverines, 27–26, in a Group AAA semifinal, and that was not going to change.
Moments earlier, North Stafford had pulled within one point during the first overtime session when Grebe found Brandon Ravenel for a 7-yard touchdown.
The Wolverines could have tied the score with an extra point.
But head coach Joe Mangano saw that his defense was gasping for air. He didn’t know if they had anything left for another overtime session.
So he asked his defensive coordinator if the Wolverines should attempt a two-point conversion, and the coordinator nodded.
“It was our best chance to win,” Mangano said. “We were hanging by a thread.”
The Wolverines called a quarterback sneak for Grebe, the district’s offensive player of the year who had improbably led his team to this moment.
The senior took the snap, moved half a step right and two steps forward, and leapt across the goal line.
Fans of both teams cheered, but that didn’t last long.
The sideline official ran toward Grebe, toward the pile, and emphatically pointed toward the ground.
He ruled that Grebe’s knee had touched down before the ball had reached the end zone.
Mangano and North Stafford athletic director Margaret Lowry ran onto the field. The Wolverines who were involved in the play lingered, hoping there was a chance the call would be overturned so their season could continue.
But after a brief discussion, the officials jogged to their locker room, and North Stafford’s stunning and sobering reality set in.
Their season was over.
“I should get further in the end zone so I get the touchdown,” Grebe said. “It’s on me. I shouldn’t have put the game in the refs’ hands.”
When Mangano gathered his team a few minutes later, he was crying as he told them how proud he was.
Many of the Wolverines were inconsolable.
Sometime soon, they will look back with pride on everything they accomplished this year. The district championship, the regional championship, and the state championship that was within reach.
But yesterday afternoon, the wounds were far too fresh.
“We’re all kind of hurting right now,” senior linebacker A.J. Slye said.
There were several moments in the fourth quarter when it seemed as if North Stafford wouldn’t even have a chance to reach overtime.
The Wolverines were clinging to a 17–14 lead when Phoebus crafted a 16-play, 79-yard touchdown drive.
There were plenty of anxious moments during that march for the Phantoms, too. They converted two fourth-down attempts, and on second down from the 9-yard line, quarterback Eric Enderson found Miles Givers over the middle for a touchdown.
Phoebus had a 20–17 lead, and there were just 22 seconds left.
“We thought the game was over,” North Stafford wide receiver Anthony Shegog said.
But the Phantoms were flagged for excessive celebration after the score.
North Stafford elected to take the penalty on the kickoff rather than before the extra point, and that turned out to be the proper decision.
On the point-after attempt, Wolverines sophomore Joey Slye blitzed toward the ball and blocked the kick, keeping North Stafford within a field goal.
The Wolverines returned the ensuing squib kickoff to their 48-yard line.
On first down, Grebe lofted a pass toward Shegog near the right sideline. A Phoebus defender settled under the ball and was poised to intercept it, but Shegog somehow reached over him and pulled it away.
“That was as good of a catch as you’ll see,” Mangano said.
Grebe, who is also the Wolverines’ kicker, trotted out for a 45-yard field goal attempt.
The ball soared wide right, but Phoebus was whistled for roughing the snapper.
North Stafford had one final chance with no time remaining.
This time, Grebe’s 31-yard kick was true, and the game headed to overtime.
Phoebus took the ball first, and on second down, Anthony Pittman scored on a 5-yard run to make it 27–20.
North Stafford’s answer was just as powerful, though, as Grebe hit Ravenel for a 7-yard score.
Then the Wolverines made the difficult decision to go for a two-point conversion, a decision that they briefly thought had sent them to the state title game.
“We decided that was the last play of the game,” Grebe said, “and we were either going to win it or lose it.”
North Stafford 0 14 3 3 6 — 26
Phoebus 7 7 0 6 7 — 27
Ph-A. Pittman 3-yard run (D. Kremp kick)
NS-A. Shegog 12-yard run (A. Grebe kick)
NS-A. Shegog 26-yard pass from A. Grebe (A. Grebe kick)
Ph-A. Pittman 3-yard run (D. Kremp kick)
NS-A. Grebe 37-yard field goal
Ph-M. Givers 9-yard pass from E. Enderson (kick failed)
NS-A. Grebe 31-yard field goal
Ph-A. Pittman 5-yard run (D. Kremp kick)
NS-B. Ravenel 7-yard pass from A. Grebe (run failed)
First downs11 18
Rushing yardage23-123 46-196
Passing yardage108 171
Rushing: Phoebus—Anthony Pittman 34-159, 3TD; Desmond Belfield 9-38; Eric Enderson 3-(-1). North Stafford—Andre Hamilton 18-113; Anthony Shegog 2-15, TD; Austin Grebe 3-(-5).
Passing: Phoebus—Eric Enderson 10-19-0 171, TD. North Stafford—Austin Grebe 9-14-1 108, 2TD.
Receiving: Phoebus—Geowantez Featherston 3-72; Romond Deloatch 4-72; Justin Lyles 1-11; Miles Givers 1-9, TD; Tyler Adams 1-7. North Stafford—Anthony Shegog 4-65, TD; Garry Nelson 2-38; Brandon Ravenel 2-11, TD; Cedrick Watkins 1-(-6).
Adam Himmelsbach: 540/374-5442