Midlo Football Falls to Monacan in First Playoff Game in Thirty-One Years

4A Division Quarterfinals

Photo by: Zoe Kopidis
Casey Joyce (#5) prepares to fight in the fourth quarter of the playoffs game.

The Midlo Trojans Football team entered its first playoff game in 31 years on November 10, 2017, against the profoundly talented and undefeated Monacan Chiefs. Before the game clock even began, Midlo faced a setback, as starting quarterback Kyle Daniluk was held out of the game due to a back injury sustained in the previous game. Despite this major challenge, the Trojans refused to back down. This demonstration of mental toughness has become a staple of the Trojan culture, which carried the team through a spectacular season.

In the midst of easily the coldest night of the season, Midlo’s number 14 Aaron Vardell launched the opening kick off, beginning Midlo’s first playoff game in more than three decades. The Monacan offense hit the ground running, literally and figuratively. Opening the game with a lopsided 9 run plays to just one pass play, RB number 1 Korey Birdy and QB number 7 Syour Fludd combined to establish the run game. The opening drive boasted 3rd and 10, and 4th and 2 conversions, but ended catastrophically on Midlo’s 11 yard line. Fludd opted to call his own number, ducking out of the pocket and scampering down field for a 5 yard gain, but was up-ended by number 81 Kyle Webb, forcing him to lose control of the ball. Midlo’s number 54 Alex Osmond recovered the fumble, giving Midlo a huge momentum boost, and setting the stage for the Trojan offense. Unfortunately, the offense lacked one key element: their star quarterback.

Operating every single snap out of the wildcat formation, Midlo’s offense lacked diversity, allowing the Monacan defense to stack the box, suffocating all offensive progress. After just one first down, Midlo was forced to punt the ball back to its opposition. Despite the demoralizing lack of offensive production, Midlo’s defense remained impenetrable, forcing a turnover on downs on Monacan’s next drive. As the first quarter came to a close, lackluster offense continued to plague Midlo’s chances, but the score remained tied at zero, thanks to an outstanding defensive effort.

However, early in the second quarter, Fludd began to leave his mark on the game. On 1st and 10 from Midlo’s 40 yard line, Fludd executed the read option to perfection, with one of the most convincing fake hand offs the Midlo defense has ever seen. Just ask DE number 58 Marvino Coleman, who completely bit on the fake, ignoring the quarterback and unnecessarily committing to the run. This mental lapse left a wide open running lane, allowing Fludd to storm 40 yards for the first touchdown of the game. As for Midlo’s offense, playing the entire game without their starting quarterback proved to be the team’s Achilles heel. Offensive production was nearly impossible to find, even when faced with 1st and goal from the 6 yard line. Late in the second quarter, Midlo managed to drive the ball deep into Monacan territory, but stalled out in the red zone, and proceeded to miss a 32 yard field goal. Knotted up at 12-0 in favor of Monacan, halftime descended upon both teams as they headed to the locker rooms.

From the opening drive, the second half followed a painfully similar pattern as the first. Midlo opened the half with great field position, setting up at their 45 yard line, but fumbled the second play of the drive. Worse yet, Monacan recovered the fumble and returned the ball 40 yards for a defensive touchdown, ballooning the lead to 19 points. Despite the near insurmountable deficit, Midlo finished the last game of the season with pride, fighting on every play until the game clock read triple zeros. The final score was 26-0 in favor of the Chiefs, sending them to the state semi-finals to face off against Louisa on November 17th. Although they did not leave the iron grid as winners, the Midlo Trojans can take great pride in their astonishing season that will go down in Midlo history.