MIDLOTHIAN, Va. (WRIC) — Midlothian High School has been open for 65 years. In those six and a half decades, it has never had a football program that has hosted a playoff game, nor has it had a team that has won a playoff game. Losing overflows its record books and year after year being stomped on by other area teams is not only common but also expected.
This year, however, things are a little different.
For the first time in school history, Midlothian is 7-0 and is two wins away from securing an unbeaten regular season.
The team is led by fifth-year Head Coach Matt Hutchings. He believes that the team’s success this year isn’t random but rather the result of the time and effort the program as a whole has dedicated.
“This isn’t just something that just happened,” Hutchings said. “This group is so tight-knit and it’s something that we’ve had to build over months and years.”
Midlothian has only played in three playoffs games. Two of those games came while Hutchings was at the helm- a 26-0 loss to Monacan in 2017 and a 40-3 loss to Eastern View in 2018.
One of the members of Midlothian’s tight-knit group is junior running back and linebacker Ashby Berry. He knew that he and his team had something special brewing very early in his high school career.
“I first realized freshman year on JV, ” Berry said. “It was pretty much the same team. We all just work well together and we all try our best on every play.”
With the team’s success this season, Midlothian players have been receiving a great amount of praise throughout the high school and community. Senior wide receiver and defensive lineman Zack Phillips is one of the many players to recognize it.
“People that we don’t know are coming up to us from the community, they’re congratulating us [and] telling us how proud they are,” Phillips said. “It really helps, it really is motivation when you realize this isn’t about you.”
The team really turned heads on Oct. 15 when the Trojans took down local powerhouse Manchester. How they did it was even more remarkable.
The team was down 21-7 at halftime and was trying its best to contain Virginia Tech commit Ramon Brown, who had all three of Manchester’s touchdowns.
Midlothian would slowly come back in the second half and eventually win 42-35. The victory marked the first time since 2001 that the team has beaten Manchester.
“I think in the past most Midlo teams or teams, in general, would just say ‘You know what it’s not our night,’” Hutchings said. “But then momentum just started swinging, it was just amazing to see our kids in that moment and how they handled everything.”
With two games remaining, the team sits No. 1 on the VHSL Region 5C rankings. If the team wins their two remaining games, against Powhatan and James River, then they will most likely host their first-ever home playoff game in a postseason where they will only play home games as the top seed.
“Our goal at the beginning of the year and our goal since the beginning of the year was to win a playoff game,” Hutchings said. “Nobody has ever won a playoff game here and that’s something [the players] want to put their names on.”
In response to a question about how special it’ll be when/if Midlothian wins their first-ever playoff game this year, Hutchings gave a very Bill-Belichick-esque response.
“We gotta beat Powhatan”