Wk 16 NRV 2021 Riverheads vs Galax 1A State Championship Game

Wk 16 NRV 2021 Riverheads vs Galax 1A State Championship Game 574 382 SWVA High School Sports

Riverheads runs to their sixth
straight 1A State Championship

Salem Stadium, Willis White Field, Salem, Va – The Galax Maroon Tide made it to the finish line for the second year in a row after a repeat semi-final win over the Holston Cavaliers last Saturday. Today’s opponent would be a horse of a different color. The only team left in their way to a state title, was the team with the best win streak in the county – the Riverheads Gladiators. Forty Nine straight opponents have succombed to the Gladiators with The Maroon Tide on that list as recent as last year’s state final game. Galax knew they were going to have their hands full coming into this one, but the Tide came to fight and fight they did. “I thought the kids fought and played hard all four quarters,” Galax head coach Shane Allen said after the game. “In the first half we played defense really well. (It was) 14-0 and we’re still in the ballgame at half.” As Coach Allen pointed out, the first half was a defensive showcase for both teams. Galax shut the Gladiators down on their opening drive, holding Riverhead’s two most danger-ous offensive weapons, RB/ LB 33 Cayden Cook-Cash and FB/LB 42 Luke Bryant to a combined two-yards. In turn Riverheads cut Galax’s best 1st half drive short when OG/DT 21 Isaac Hartless sacked QB/DEB 9 Ian Ashworth for a big loss. The game got out of hand in the second half when Cook-Cash and Bryant each broke free for 62 and 76-yard scores. The Tide got on the board with an Ashworth rushing TD and a second score late in the fourth, but it was too little too late, as Riverheads extending their streak and added their 6th straight State Title.

The Maroon Tide readies to take the field vs Riverheads

First Quarter – Galax took over on their 20-yard line after Riverheads first drive fell flat. The Maroon tide stuck to their ground game and the Gladiators were ready. Ashworth managed to pick up six yards on third down after a fake pass, but they were still two short, bringing up a punt. WR/DB 3 Mason Cox drilled the punt over the head of the Riverheads return man and the football took a Galax bounce, settling at the Gladiator’s five.

Riverheads RB 33 Caden Cash-Cook scores on a long run

The team in red trusted the drive to Bryant. The junior took the handoff five times picking up 30 yards, moving his squad away from their end zone. The star of the drive was Sophomore RB 33 Cayden Cook-cash. After a costly 15-yard chop block penalty on the Tide, “number 33” broke free dodging, juking and stiff arming his way to a 38-yard TD. K/P 6 Cooper Robson punched in the PAT to put the defending champs up 7-0.

Galax RB/KR 7 Javonte Reeves looks for room to run

RB/DB 7 Javonte Reeves picked maneuvered his way to the 41 off the kickoff and Galax got to work. On Galax’s second offensive possession, RB/LB 1 Tedruhn Tucker and QB/DB 9 Ian Ashworth each took a carry and picked up a first down, but that was all they’d get. First, FB/DE 26 Noah Smiley tackled Ashworth on a rush attempt and then DB/RB 21 Isaac Hartless found his way to the opposing QB for a ten-yard loss. Galax P/WR/DB 3 Cox punted again to round out the quarter

QB 9 Ian Ashworth cuts off a block to gain positive yardage on Saturday

Gladiator RB 33 Cook-Cash barrels his way into the end zone

Second Quarter –  The Gladiators found themselves on their 14 to start the drive and on third down, they were still five yards away from a first. QB/DB 2 Bennett Dunlap bailed his team out with a perfect pass to FB/LB 24 Cole Burton who picked up 31 yards before being pulled down at midfield. One of the difficult things in playing the Gladiators is the desire to run, but their ability to throw. You have to pick your poison on defense oftentimes. Riverheads controlled the drive, picking up yards when they needed them leading to Cook-Cash’s second score off a 3-yard rush. The kick was good, and the Maroon Tide was down by two scores. After the Gladiators kick bounced into the end zone, Galax got to their game beginning at their own twenty.

Junior RB/DE 42 Luke Bryant heads around the left end
Galax S/QB 9 Ian Ashworth cuts down RB 33 Cayden Cook-Cash of Riverheads

First, Ashworth connected with TE/DB 21 Sam Olinger for a clutch 25-yard gain up the middle. Senior RB 7 Javonte Reeves added an 11-yard pick up before Galax found themselves facing third down. Ashworth found his mark up the middle again. The senior dodged a few Gladiators and hit Cox for a 15-yard drive saving completion. Against Riverhead’s one mistake and your done. That mistake came on second down when DB 21 Hartless and RB/DT 19 Ethan Eppard burst through the Maroon Tide line to sack Ashworth for an 8-yard lost. Galax couldn’t make up the lost yardage, eventually turning it over on downs. Riverheads gave the ball to Cook-Cash and Bryant as the half came to a close, but the clock ran out before they could seriously threaten another score. Riverheads led 14-0 at the break.

LB/RB 33 Cook-Cash dials in Galax QB/DB 9 Ian Ashworth

Third Quarter – In the second half, the Maroon Tide came out firing. Ashworth drilled a pass to RB/LB 1 Tedrhun Tucker for a quick nine-yards to kick off the third. Galax stuck with Tucker connected again on the following play, but the Gladiators were on to him. DE/RB 42 Luke Bryant and FB/DE 26 Noah Smiley pulled the junior down for a loss of five. Galax shifted the ball to RB 7 Reeves next, but DE 42 Burton tracked him down before he could gain an inch, queuing up another punt. Cook-Cash signaled for a fair catch on the Gladiator 38. The first play of the drive, RB 33 Cook-Cash found some room to breathe and turned on the afterburners for a 62-yard TD. The kick was good, and Riverheads had a commanding 21-0 lead.

Cook-Cash gets loose again for the Gladiators

After a short Reeves return, Galax focus was to get back into the game. They went with Ashworth who threw seven consecutive passes for 45 yards. The last toss was a clutch catch up the middle to WR/DB 5 Jackson Alderman who made some moves before Dunlap got to him for the tackle at the Gladiators twenty-six. The Tide pressed on and after four Ashworth carries in a row, the Galax was on the board with a one-yard TD run by the Senior signalcaller. K/P 2 Alberto Vera drilled the extra point to making the score 21-7.

Galax gets on the board

Galax opted for a squib attempt, but the Gladiators recovered it, providing them excellent field position at their own forty-two. RB 33 Cook-Cash picked up 34-yards on his first carry, but Galax buried him on his next two tries. Dunlap then targeted SE/DB 3 Landon Lightner in the end zone, but DB/WR 3 Mason Cox’s tight coverage prevented the score. However, the Gladiators were in field goal range, so they went for the points available to them. K/P 6 Robson drilled the kick putting the Gladiators up by 17. On the next drive, the Maroon Tide couldn’t hack up their last score and Cox punted the ball away. Riverheads took over on their 24 and trusted the football to RB/DE 42 Bryant. The Junior burst through Galax’s line and cruised to the end zone with the help of a few incredible blocks from his teammates. The PAT was good, 31-7 Gladiators.

Riverheads K 6 Cooper Robson’s field goal puts the Gladiators up by 17
Luke Bryant tacks on another score for Riverheads

Cash-Cook, only a Sophomore, scores for the fourth time

Fourth Quarter – Galax again couldn’t get into their stride, coming up short by inches on fourth down. Riverheads on the other hand, stuck to their guns. In five plays RB/LB 33 Cook-Cash and RB/DE 42 Bryant picked up a combined 60-yards, ending with a nine-yard Cook-Cash TD. Galax took over on their forty-one and stuck with Reeves this time around. The senior made the most of his carries, picking up a first down in three carries. But he wasn’t done yet. After the first down, Reeves broke away for 41-yard TD carry to make the score 38-14.

The Maroon Tide’s RB 7 Javonte Reeves takes it for a TD

The Maroon Tide went for a squib again and this time the team in white came up with the ball. Ashworth picked up 12-yards on a right slant until disaster stuck. Ashworth’s pass was tipped up and caught by Riverheads OG/LB 55 Logan Hostletter on the right sideline. The sophomore paused near the sideline and casually stepped out of bounds to put the final nail in Galax’s coffin. Despite the four minutes left on the clock and their lead, the Gladiators pressed on ending another drive with a ten-yard TD rush from RB/DB 4 Aiden Miller. The kick was good, and the score ballooned to 45-14 Riverheads with two minutes to go. Galax kept fighting. The Maroon Tide picked up three first downs, with alternating carries between Ashworth and Reeves until the clock cut their drive short and began the Gladiator’s celebration. The award ceremony ensued, in the rain. Galax had made it to the summit again, but came up short. Riverheads, on the other hand, had landed on familiar ground. The State Championship was Riverheads sixth in a row, a Virginia high school record. The win also extended their win streak to fifty wins in a row, a current national high school football record.   – Graham Whitaker

One final TD to cap off Riverhead’s record setting sixth straight state title in Virginia

Head Coach Casto for Riverheads moves out of the celebration to let his players enjoy the win

Rushing – Riverheads – C. Cook-Cash 18-224, 2TD, L. Bryant 15-177, C. Burton 5-19, A. Miller 3-13, B. Dunlap 1-3, N. Smiley 1-2  Galax– J. Reeves 15-88, TD, I. Ashworth 18-59, TD, T. Tucker 2-(-1)
PassingRiverheads – B. Dunlap 2/5, 44  Galax– I. Ashworth 14/23, 130, INT
ReceivingRiverheads – C. Burton 1/31, L. Lightner 1-13  Galax – J. Alderman 4-47, A. White 4-23, T. Tucker 2-16, M. Cox 2-14
PuntingRiverheads – C. Robson 1-15 yd avg  Galax – M. Cox 4-40 yd avg
KickingRiverheads– C. Robson 21-yd FG, 7/7 PAT  Galax – C. Dupin 2/2 PAT

First Quarter –
  • Riverheads: C. Cook-Cash 38-yard TD run; C. Robson PAT

Second Quarter –
  • Riverheads: C. Cook-Cash 3-yard TD run; C. Robson PAT

Third Quarter –
  • Riverheads: C. Cook-Cash 76-yard TD run; C. Robson PAT
  • Galax: I. Ashworth 1-yard TD run: A. Vera PAT
  • Riverheads: C. Robson 21-yard FG
  • Riverheads: L. Bryant 76-yard TD run; C. Robson PAT

Fourth Quarter –
  • Riverheads: C. Cook-Cash 9-yard TD run; C. Robson PAT
  • Galax: J. Reeves 41-yard TD run: A. Vera PAT

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