GOOCHLAND, VA (WWBT) - The Goochland Bulldogs had lost 14 seniors and started the season 1-2. Few thought at that point that they could get back to the final two teams standing.
But the 'Dogs didn't quit, and now they're back in the state championship for the second straight season.
2nd seeded Goochland will play top seeded Essex in the Class AA State Title game Saturday at 4:30pm in Salem.
The Bulldogs lost to Gretna 21-16 in last year's final, and coach Joe Fowler says he didn't feel like his team was nervous or anxious on the big state - they just ran into a great football team.
Still he thinks this year's team will be that much more comfortable - they all ready know their schedule, are familiar with the stadium, and have the experience of what taking the field in a title game is like.
The Bulldogs have relied on their seniors to lead the team this season, but offensively they have two sophomores at quarterback - Jordan Jefferson and Chase Doczi. They also use five running backs, with the leading rusher only averaging 10 carries a game. Fowler says that gives his team a huge advantage because they have fresh legs.
Goochland's success is due partly to the small, close-knit community. Kids grow up playing on the same teams from the time they first pick up a football, and then start using the high school system almost as early. That continuity keeps Fowler from having to spend time on fundamentals, and also builds chemistry between the players at a very young age.
It's that continuity and chemistry that's brought Goochland back to the big game. But this time, they want to bring the big trophy back with them.