WAYNESBORO — Just a week ago, the Waynesboro football team was shut out by Staunton River in a game where the players not only outweighed them, but also outplayed them.
On Friday night, in a stadium packed so full, standing room was the only way stragglers would get a look, Waynesboro put on a game that would redeem them from their loss just a week earlier.
In Waynesboro’s 19-7 win over Stuarts Draft, the team showcased a defense that became a key element to the Little Giants’ offense.
“We had two big stops in the first half,” Waynesboro coach Derek McDaniel said. “In the second half I thought the defense won the football game for us. … In the second half I thought we started playing defense like we are capable of playing defense.”
After an explosive first play that resulted in Steffan Thornton picking up a 55-yard touchdown, fans and even players were invigorated. With Waynesboro’s starting quarterback Chris Baker out, it was a question for many fans if sophomore DaJaun Moore could handle the job.
But he did. And it was the kind of play that comforted Waynesboro fans after witnessing what McDaniel said was a brutal loss.
“Mentally and emotionally (this win) really helps,” McDaniel said. “We got physically beat up pretty good last week. Staunton River took it to us pretty good. … In the second half, our kids executed. They got to the ball. We shut down the exact same plays (Stuarts Draft) ran in the first half.”
Stuarts Draft quarterback Garrett Campbell gave up three interceptions for the night, a killer for the team’s defense, which was spent midway through the fourth quarter.
In Draft’s first game of the season on Sept. 4, Izzy Johnson was the star of the team, putting up almost 200 rushing yards in the first half of play against Fort Defiance, but against Waynesboro, Johnson and the rest of the Draft running backs couldn’t break through the Little Giants tackles.
With Waynesboro’s season at 2-1, Friday wasn’t about a record. For the Little Giants, it was about keeping The Ball — the trophy that symbolizes the rivalry between Stuarts Draft and Waynesboro.
For Waynesboro, keeping that trophy meant another year they could be proud to be to call themselves the Little Giants.
“When we won it last year, I told the guys, it’s a pride factor,” McDaniel said. “It’s just a community pride factor between us and Stuarts Draft. It might not be a whole lot to the world, but to us it should mean something and that’s what I told them at the half.”
STUARTS DRAFT 0 7 0 0 — 7
WAYNESBORO 7 6 0 6 — 19
W – Thornton 55 run
S – Lehmann 4 run
W – Thornton 9 run
W – Williams 5 run
Waynesboro’s Jequintus Chambers holds onto the ball as Stuarts Draft’s Brandon Terrell yanks him off his feet during a football game played in Waynesboro on Friday, Sept. 11, 2015.