POWHATAN, VA (WWBT) - Blessed Sacrament Huguenot football has a long tradition of success. Most recently, the Knights went on a run of five consecutive state championships from 2009-2013, but after a scarce turnout during this past off-season, the school considered a major change.
Eight-man football was seen as a strong possibility for the program, due to the low participation number. It’s a move that a handful of private schools in Virginia have already made. When this idea was pitched to the players, many objected and hoped for a way to avoid the change.
That’s where new head coach Shawn Pickett came in. Pickett, who has also been an assistant coach at King William, went to work. The new head Knight focused on building relationships with his players, and then tried to recruit other seniors at the school to play football. With a little help from his team, it worked, and eleven-man traditional football remained on campus.
“Of the 14 seniors, I think eight or nine have never even played before,” said Pickett.
He and his staff immediately went to work cramming a lifetime of football knowledge into a few short weeks and got everybody as up to speed as possible.
It’s working, as the Knights are not just playing-- they’re playing well. Blessed Sacrament is out to a 4-1 start and has its eyes on a possible VISAA state championship next month. The seniors, now affectionately known as the “Group of 14,” have done their part to save football as it was known at the school.
Pickett says that the numbers now suggest that making a change to football is something the school will not have to worry about for quite some time. As for this year’s seniors, they will leave the field at the end of the season realizing that they made an impact on the program’s long-term future.
Blessed Sacrament is back home this Friday, hosting Chincoteague at 7:00.