The story behind the Middle School football team's championship run can be easily defined in one sentence: What a difference four years can make!
On October 27, 2012, Marcus Lattimore was a prolific running back who had seen his illustrious playing career come to a screeching halt. As fate would have it, October 27, 2016 found Lattimore back on a football field, this time with a new purpose and a new team.
This team, winless since 2014, would capture the inaugural Region I Middle School Football Championship, upsetting top-seeded Hammond on the road, 12-0!
Defense was the story of the game early, as the Highlanders' offense struggled to find their rhythm. The Heathwood defense, led by linemen Evan Javis and Pete Peterson, would keep the Skyhawks at bay, providing two goal-line stands to keep the game scoreless at halftime. To open the second half, the Highlanders would strike first. After a long pass from Alexander Roberts to William Morris provided the Highlanders with great field position, Walker Draffin would break through to give Heathwood the 6-0 lead!
Heading into the final quarter, the defense remained tough, squashing several Hammond attempts at first downs with key sacks, tackles, and pass breakups. With under five minutes to play, Ryan Shelley took a reverse handoff and went streaking down the Highlander sideline, setting up a Roberts 4th down TD run to double the Heathwood lead. As the Skyhawks set up their final offensive attack to remain in the game, the crowd, which neared 1000 people -- of which more than 75% were faithful Highlander fans donning white -- were treated to the final championship-clinching play, as Draffin intercepted a pass with less than two minutes to play.
Heathwood finishes the season 5-3, and claimed victories over in-town rivals Ben Lippen, Cardinal Newman, and Hammond.