HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Varina Blue Devils booked a ticket to the VHSL State Championship Final for the first time since 1999, back when their head coach was on the team.
Coach Marcus Lewis lead Varina to a 12-1 season record and recently capped a state semi-final win over King’s Fork this past weekend. Lewis was named Regional Coach of the Year.
The Blue Devils won the Class 4 Region B playoff final against Patrick Henry, 16-14, in late November.
This Saturday, Dec. 11, the ‘blue and gold’ will travel to Liberty University to take on Northern Virginia’s Broad Run (13-1) in the Virginia High School League Class 4 State Final.
In the 1999 state final, Varina lost to the Hylton Bulldogs. That was the second trip and second loss the Blue Devils faced in state final competition. They have not won the championship yet.
And that is something Coach Lewis is trying to change on Saturday.
“We have to execute. We have to keep our foot on the throttle,” Lewis said. “Just because we get ahead doesn’t mean we can get relaxed. We can’t just continue to run the ball. We have got to do what we do, mix it up and keep them on their toes for the whole football game.”
The Blue Devils only lost once this season — in their first match against Patrick Henry. That was only a one-point differential.
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In 5 of the last 6 games Varina has played, the squad has only won by one touchdown or less. That includes the trip to Highland Springs where the Blue Devils won 7-6.
Cross-town rivals Highland Springs congratulated Varina for the state final spot on Twitter, and other teams across Central Virginia shared messages of support.
To Lewis, that support and camaraderie is important to the entire Varina team.
“It means a lot. Just to see the community and Central Virginia come together, we are always competing against each other,” he said. “But for us to come together and be one, to me it means a lot. The whole city behind us… we have to represent for the city. More importantly, we have to represent for the East End and the Varina community.”
Lewis said there was no time to take a second to breathe ahead of the big match.
“The mission is not complete,” he said. “I think, after Saturday when the game is over, then I will reflect on everything. Right now, we have one goal and that is to win the state championship. We are setting the legacy and we are putting our footsteps down. Just to see the younger guys come up and look forward to being a Blue Devil, to me that’s what it is all about.”
The VHSL State Final kicks off at noon on Saturday, Dec. 11.