FAYETTEVILLE, W.Va. – Despite being the first group of Van High School gridders to see Class A playoff action in back-to-back seasons since 1992-93, the 14th-seeeded Bulldogs fell to undefeated No. 3 seeded Fayetteville, 28-0.
Star running back Brady Grant played in the contest with six stitches in his hand and still managed 162 yards on 32 touches, leading the Van running attack.
The Van defensive secondary was without leader Alex Gibson, who suffered a broken collarbone against Man last week. “I think the game was much closer than the score indicated and that’s a shame,” said coach Steve Price. “We made too many mistakes in the red zone. We had first and goal and had two penalties before we could run a play. We were in the red zone three other times and couldn’t punch it in. It was frustrating for our kids but we give credit to Fayetteville, they are a really good team.”
The Maroon Knights were led by a 169-yard rushing effort from Jordan Dempsey that saw him hit the end zone three times. Senior signal caller Isaac Rine connected on 10 passes for 132 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
“I was pleased with our effort,” said Price. “With the injuries our kids received and with the young kids we had to call into action sooner than what we normally would, our kids stepped up this year.”
Van will return about seven starters on both sides of the ball next season and Price said that the experience his underclassmen gained is invaluable when developing a program. “Four out of five offensive linemen are back, our fullback and tailback, quarterback and a key wideout, he said.
“Our seniors taught our underclassmen the importance of being here every day and the importance of working hard in the weight room.” It had been five years since a Van team had sniffed the playoffs before the 2015 season. Price said the experience helped his kids prepare for this year. “We had sophomores and juniors get that taste last year (2015) and they wanted to get back there,” Price said. “I told our boys after the game that they have a chance next year to go three years in a row and that is something to build on and that is how we left it.”
For Van, junior all-state running back Brady Grant topped 2000 yards on the ground for the season. Van finished (6-4).