by Lisa Hinton-Valdrighi
It’s easy to show up for practice every day when you’re winning. It’s a little harder when you’re winless.
The Red Devils, struggling with low numbers and inexperienced players, did what a lot of fans thought they wouldn’t, and finished the season. Coach Draper Washington and assistants started with 26 on the roster back in September. Factor in injuries, disciplinary issues and those who quit and the Devils ended the season last week with a roster of 18. Three of those still on the roster weren’t able to play because of injuries. For non-football fans, that means Lancaster had four subs on the sidelines and most all of their players were on the field for every down.
“Those kids that were out there [every week], I take my hat off to them,” said Washington. “They could have quit but they didn’t. They fought hard and tried their best in every game.”
The Devils won’t be advancing in the postseason. Lancaster’s season ended last week with a loss to Northumberland that left the Devils at 0-10. But the players who came to practice daily and hit the field every Friday night, knowing they’d be outmatched and outsized against more experienced teams, deserve some high praise.
“Technically, I was putting a JV team out on the field against these experienced teams. I mean the Northern Neck District is tough. We have five of the six teams going to the playoffs,” said Washington.
Washington’s team, by the end of the season, included only three seniors, four juniors, seven sophomores and four freshmen.
“And that whole ninth grade class, none of them had any experience playing football,” said Washington. Lancaster didn’t have a junior varsity team in 2018-19 and couldn’t field one again this year because of lack of participation.
“A lot of people look at the score and just assume the coaching is bad, but we’re basically putting a JV team with no experience on the field and asking them to play teams like Essex with all juniors and seniors,” he said.
Lancaster’s roster at the end of the season included seniors Xavier Sutton, Cameron Towles and Carlos Norris; juniors Jamarion Thomas, Elijah Wood-Laws, Daniel Smith and Terrence Waddy Jr.; sophomores Kyle Uhler, Calvin Redmond, Troy Cox Jr., Destin Henderson, Steven “Tate” Wilmore, Arik Roane and Zach Churchill, and freshmen Gavyn Hathaway, Kai Sydnor, Jeremia Laws and Nicholas Baker.