Roanoke County – North Cross rallied from an early touchdown deficit to manhandle Blue Ridge school to win their first ever back-to-back state football crowns.
The Barons jumped out early as Demetrius Allen scooped up a bad snap and rambled the distance for the opening touchdown of the game.
The Raiders would tie the score in the first on a Brock Miles to Jaziel Hart touchdown strike, then power to the lead in the second behind the touchdown runs of Jerel Rhodes and Kam Johnson. North Cross led 21-7 at the half.
The Raiders defense continued to play ‘lights out’, keeping Blue Ridge out of the end zone. Hart hauled in an interception to thwart one Barons drive, and North Cross promptly connected on another long pass--this one to Moritz Mittendorfer, to get the Raiders into the red zone. Workhorse running back Kam Johnson cashed in the opportunity to stretch the lead to 28-7.
Brock Miles added another TD pass, this one to Daniel Skoog, to close out the scoring at 35-7.
The win is the 5th state title in program history, and first for first-year head coach Shannon Taylor, who spent more than a decade running the defense.
“So thankful for my staff, so thankful for the administration here at North Cross to give me this opportunity to be ‘the guy’. And I feel really good about it. I feel prepared and I’m glad we won today. The guys deserve that. They worked or tails off all year,” Taylor said.
“It means everything. We’ve been preaching this since the summer, you know? We’ve been working hard all summer, all winter, we been working so hard. This means the most, especially to send our seniors out like this, including me! --you know, it means everything,” running back Kam Johnson said
“It means everything to have an impact as a senior, and have more of a role in this experience is a great feeling and you know, we definitely are excited to make history and get another ring put another banner up in the gym,” running back Jerel Rhodes said.
”That’s just amazing. First time in school history! I mean there have been a lot of a state championships here, but first time back-to-back, with a new head coach, a new offensive coordinator and I think nine games out of our 12 were on the road. I mean it’s just amazing,” Pitt signee and senior lineman Mortiz Schmoranzer said.
North Cross had been in the state title game six times in the last eight years, now winning three in that span.