By Marty Gordon NRVsports@ourvalley.org
For first-year coach Michael Crist, this season has been a roller-coaster ride with most of t being up at Radford High School. The season came to an end Friday with a 56-28 loss to Appomattox in the state playoff’s quarters, but an 8-4 season for the Bobcats is nothing to be down on.
The Bobcats kept the game close early on before Appomattox pulled away.
Crist said his kids played extremely hard and tough. “The game got away from us with a few turnovers and some key injuries. However, I’m proud of the way our guys came out and competed,” the head coach said.
Crist said one of the biggest turning points was when Appomattox capitalized after a turnover with a long 98-yard drive before the half. “We were playing really well at that point, and that gave them some momentum back,” he said.
Appomattox was the region’s top seed while Radford came in at number three. Radford quarterback Landon Clark put on quite a performance with 25-of-33 passing with three touchdowns and 404 yards. He did throw two interceptions in the loss.
Parker Prioleau led the team with seven catches for 84 yards.
Clark took over from Marcell Baylor after game six and finished the season 55 of 75 passing for 887 yards with 10 touchdowns. Baylor was the team’s top rusher on the season with 81 carries for 783 yards with 11 touchdowns.
After the loss, Crist thanked his team for their efforts all year. “I especially thanked this senior class as they did a great job leading. Football is a tough and grinding sport, and these kids showed up to work every day for basically four straight months. I’m proud of this team,” the head Bobcat said.
Like other Friday night games, an accident on Interstate 81 delayed the start of the game. But Crist did not feel it affected his team as they were stuck in slow traffic for a short time.
“We certainly won’t ever use an excuse. It was a long bus ride, but our kids handle adversity and change really well,” he said.
On Sunday, he couldn’t say enough great things about this year’s group of kids.
“For my first year here, our kids have made this transition easy,” Crist said. “They’re incredibly competitive, tough, and smart. They could’ve tossed in the towel after the Christiansburg loss or after the tight Glenvar loss, but they didn’t. They’re tough kids who do things the right way and battle through adversity.”
Crist is excited about the future of the program he inherited.
“Our senior class laid a foundation for these next classes to continue. We played a lot of young guys at critical times this season,” he said.