The Heritage Pioneers square off with two-time defending state champion Briar Woods in Saturday’s second game in Lynchburg around 4 p.m. The Falcons knocked off Christiansburg in last year's finale and are back for a three- peat.
Back in February, the Lynchburg City School Board approved the hire of Brad Bradley as the new head coach at Heritage High. And on that day, the entire 2012 football season changed for the Pioneers.
"When Coach Bradley came in, that was what we were planning to do. That was the only thing we were worried about doing, was making a run to the state championship,” senior receiver/defensive back I'Shantii Rosser said.
Ten months later, the team is on the verge of history and the first state title for the program since 2002.
"We talked about it a lot because this is where we planned on being from the beginning,” senior quarterback JeVontae Parrish said.
After knocking off William Byrd, Amherst and Salem in the playoffs, the Pioneers face their toughest opponent yet on Saturday. The two-time defending state champs from Briar Woods, outside D.C.
"Probably one of the best football teams we've seen on film this year, maybe in a long time,” Heritage coach Brad Bradley said.
The Falcons are a perfect 14-0. They've posted five shutouts this year, while scoring 30 or more points in all but one game.
“They're a pretty good team, they're fast. But we think we're fast enough to keep up with them. We just think that they haven't been hit like they could be,” Rosser said.
Heritage's chances start with senior dual-threat quarterback JeVontae Parrish.
"I feel like he's one of the best in the state of Virginia. That's why he's playing on Saturday,” Bradley said.
It continues with a talented supporting cast that doesn't back down.
"Our up front guys have just done a great job all year long. And on defense we don't have any one superstar, but man we get after it as a team,” Bradley said.
Under Bradley, the Pioneers do not shy away from expectations.
"We ready to play them. We want to knock another team off that has a great tradition,” Parrish said.
And they're now just one day away, one game away, from the ultimate prize.
"It would be probably the best feeling in my life. I've never had a state championship since I've been here and I would happy to finally win one," Rosser said.