Riverheads Falls 7-6 against Galax in VHSL 1A Football State Title Game

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Riverheads went for two, while trailing 7-6 to Galax but the pass to Tyler Smith fell incomplete Riverheads went for two, while trailing 7-6 to Galax but the pass to Tyler Smith fell incomplete
Riverheads finishes the season with a 13-1 record Riverheads finishes the season with a 13-1 record

The Riverheads football team lost 7-6 against Galax in the VHSL Group 1A state championship game Saturday in Salem.

The Gladiators attempted a two-point conversion after scoring a touchdown with no time remaining on the clock in the 4th quarter, but a pass from Garrett Campbell to Tyler Smith fell incomplete, and ended the game.

Riverheads head coach Robert Casto says, "We had an opportunity to win at the end but we just didn't get it done.  That's the way it goes. I'm proud of our kids. They battled. They played hard. I know they're hurting right now. They played a good ball game. Our kids have battled. We've overcome a lot. We've probably over-achieved. We're not a big bunch of kids. They play hard, and have a lot of heart. They just refuse to lose, and today we just ran out of time."

The Gladiators had their best drive of the game on their final possession.

After Riverheads started deep in its own territory with under a minute to play, Campbell connected with Smith on a 43 yard completion, and then found Taz Miller in the endzone on the final play of regulation.

The Gladiators were held to just one first down and 40 yards of total offense in the first half.

Maroon Tide senior running back Charles Harris scored his team's touchdown in the first quarter, and he ran for 173 yards on 27 carries.

Harris became the 8th high school football player in Virginia to rush for more than 3,000 yards in a single season this year, but says stopping Riverheads was the main focus leading up to the championship game.

"During practice we did extra hours, and stayed late working on defense," says Harris.  "We didn't do to much on offense this week. We just worked on defense, because defense was going to be key this week, and it turned out to be."

Campbell Miller led Riverheads with 83-yards rushing on six carries, including a 57 yard run.

Riverheads finishes the season with a record of 13-1, while the Maroon Tide (11-4) win the state title for the first time in program history.

"This is the way it should have went," says Galax head coach Mark Dixon. "I never thought I'd be here, or this team would be here. We started 1-4. How do you end up here talking to you guys? I'll go home with my two girls and my wife, and we'll try to figure out what just happened. It hasn't hit me yet. We'll figure it out on the ride home, somehow."

Galax started its season at 1-4 but didn't allow the start of the season to affect them the rest of the way.

"We're not here without those heart breakers," says Dixon. "In games like you saw today, that was the first four games we played. We found a way to lose those games. Going through that, the kids have found a way to win. We don't win today without those four losses.

"We had no idea this was going to happen," says Harris. "We just stuck with it. We kept grinding and we just kept listening to our coaches."

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