Last week, I found myself in poultry purgatory. My wife and I are hosting Thanksgiving for the first time, so naturally I planned ahead to secure the centerpiece bird weeks in advance.

Amish, free-range, you name it. The turkey was to be ready by Monday, and I’d receive a call to come pick it up. Said call came around 3 p.m. on Friday when I was napping ahead of an Eastern View/Louisa playoff game that ended on a bonkers Hail Mary. (But that’s another story).

Still groggy, I scrutinized the 386 area code lighting up my iPhone screen. Now, I’ve lived in Florida, so I knew exactly where it was from and figured it was one of those ubiquitous robo calls we all know and love. Yet I answered, and the conversation went like this:

“DeLand Meat Market, you ordered an amish turkey? Ten to 12 pounds?”

I had, though not from DeLand Meat Market.

“This is a Florida number, though? I thought I ordered from Olde Town Butcher?”

“That’s us, DeLand Meat Market is just our corporate name. Bird’s ready.”

Weird, but OK. The situation only crystallized after we hung up (and I fully woke up). In my zealousness, I’d googled the place on my phone and simply tapped the call icon. Instead of Olde Towne Butcher in downtown Fredericksburg, I’d reserved a turkey 757 miles away at Old Town Butcher in the Sunshine State.

I had a couple of options: retrofit my Hyundai as a refrigerator car and make the 22-hour round trip (the place did have stellar reviews) or, call my local butcher and explain everything. As a journalist, I chose the full transparency route.

The fine folks at Olde Towne Butcher (note the double Es) hooked me up. As you read this, my turkey—still amish, still free-range—is slathered with a simple dry brine and awaiting roast.

Which brings us to the main course (And no, I’m not talking about Colt McCoy versus the Dallas secondary, appetizing as that matchup is). The Lancie Awards are a tradition that predates Thanksgiving, or turkey for that matter.

In 1439, Johannes Gutenberg developed a machine to chronicle the achievements of high school football players in his hometown of Strasbourg, Germany. Today we continue Gutenberg’s tradition.

Five area teams—Culpeper, Spotsylvania, Colonial Forge, North Stafford and Massaponax—are thankful for the opportunity to practice today. For the rest of you, sit back and enjoy the best of the high school football season with the Lancies.

Quote of the year

“I’ve been walking around our stands since I was a baby. I’ve seen it all. I’ve seen the good times, and I’ve seen the bad. We’re living in the good right now.”

—Spotsylvania QB Trevor Croson, on the Knights’ best season in nearly two decades.

Worth the price of admission award

The Battle for Rt. 522 was mostly gridlock. For 47 1/2 minutes, Eastern View’s offense plodded in the mud at Mark L. Fischer Field. Even the normally sure-footed Garrett Hutchinson slipped and missed an extra point.

But with 20 seconds left, Cyclones quarterback Matt Lowry let fly a pass that was tipped by not one, but two Louisa defenders. Receiver Blake Leake gathered it in and took off running.

Fifty-four yards later, Eastern View had all but sealed up a 19–14 win and a rematch with Dinwiddie in the Region 4B finals. You kinda had to be there.

Honorable mention: It took quadruple overtime, but Fredericksburg Christian edged Nansemond Suffolk Academy, 33–26, in a matchup of the VISAA’s top teams back on Oct. 27.

The VHSL sensitive-snowflake participation trophy award

It’s no secret that the Virginia High School League’s re-classification efforts have watered down playoff brackets across every sport. This season, the diluted field was most glaringly obvious in Region 3B, where George Wythe made the postseason with an 0–10 record.

But, you say, the Bulldogs faced much larger schools in nearly every contest!

They also finished 0–11 after a playoff loss to Spotsylvania.


Life ain’t fair award

Conversely, Eastern View and Louisa each went undefeated and faced off in the Region 4B semifinals (see above).

“One of them is going to go home with one loss, and that is probably more disappointing than anything,” Courtland coach J.C. Hall said on the eve of the matchup.

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Norse nomenclature award

The literal embodiment of a lightning back, Courtland junior Thor Hanlon used his powers for good, contributing to the Cougars’ 8–4 campaign. (JK, he’s a fullback but we had to force the metaphor there).

Bakers serve up a victory for Mom

With heavy hearts, brothers Garret, Jacob and Randall Baker took the field for St. Michael just days after their mother, Wendy, was killed in a collision on State Route 208 in Spotsylvania.

In honor of Wendy Baker, the Warriors’ team mom and co-founder of its booster club, the brothers combined for 21 tackles and six sacks in St. Michael’s win over the Northern Virginia High School Association.

“Our biggest focus wasn’t to win the game,” Jacob Baker said. “It was to go out and play for our mom.”

Perseverance award—individual

Evan Schickel’s foot injury doomed Massaponax’s 2017 season. But the quarterback returned with a vengeance for his senior campaign, his play positioning the Panthers for a deep postseason run.

Then Schickel got hurt again. After missing two starts, he was thrust back into action when backup Luke Morley went down in the third quarter of a Region 5D semifinal against Brooke Point last Friday.

With the Panthers trailing 26–23, the southpaw tossed a 27-yard touchdown pass and ran for a 27-yard score to pull off a comeback victory.

“Evan is one of the grittiest kids I’ve coached in 35 years, and he played with a lot of pain,” Massaponax coach Eric Ludden said.

Way to prove us wrong award

We picked Louisa 10th in our preseason power poll, despite the fact that the Lions were fresh off an appearance in the Class 4 state semifinals. Our logic was that Louisa had Brandon Smith coming back and … virtually no one else.

With a first-year coach in Will Patrick and a revamped lineup, all the Lions did was start 11–0, outscoring opponents 419–132 in the process. Our bad.

Honorable mention: No. 18 Fredericksburg Christian went on to win the VISAA, Division-II title with an 11–1 record. Oops!

Atmosphere award

Mineral is not so much a town but a wormhole. Upon pulling into the Louisa County High School parking lot on a Friday night (or the adjacent public library if less than 30 minutes from kickoff), you’re transported to a magical dimension where game balls are delivered via skydiver and touchdowns feted by artillery barrages.

I hear there used to be a real lion, who has since passed. But the pageantry? It’s alive and well. Toddlers trip on their oversize Louisa jerseys, and whole families frame their weekend around the Jefferson District football schedule.

The Lion’s Den is Virginia’s closest approximation of Friday Night Lights. It might just be better.

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Joey LoMonaco: 540/368-5045


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