HENRICO, Va. (WWBT) - On Friday night, Hermitage will take the field as the number two seed in the Region 5B playoffs. Considering what the program has been through since 2018, this year’s achievements can certainly be categorized as a triumph before the postseason even begins.
The Panthers are 6-0 and, despite the shortened season, have posted more victories than the previous two years combined. Following longtime head coach Patrick Kane’s departure, Hermitage went 1-9 in its lone campaign with Derrick Johnson at the helm, then improved in 2019 by going 4-6. Earl Kinney served as interim head coach as David Bedwell navigated through some personal issues.
Bedwell coached his first game for Hermitage on February 22, a 9-0 win over Varina, and the Panthers have been rolling from there. It’s been quite a ride for the current seniors, going from just one victory during their sophomore year to finishing undefeated and in the hunt for region and state crowns.
“We’ve bonded like a really good brotherhood over these last three years of hardships,” said senior lineman Billy Gough. “I think we’re just tired of losing, so we came out and I think we all collectively decided just to put it all out on the field.”
“We had some success early in our season and they believed in everything we told them and they’ve done everything we’ve asked them to do,” Bedwell added. “It does mean a lot. It’s great for those guys. I’m very happy for them, I’m very proud of them for all the things that they’ve done, but we don’t want this thing to end.”
Getting things done during the regular schedule was just part of the process. Bedwell and his coaching staff have been talking about getting Hermitage back to what it was throughout the campaign, and the chance to take the next step is right in front of the Panthers as the postseason gets set to kick off.
“We talked about rebuilding,” Bedwell said. “Part of rebuilding is you’ve got to go through the steps. You’ve got to go through the process and the playoffs are the next step in the process.”
Hermitage will host Manchester in the regional semifinal on Friday at 7:00.
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