It was late in the fourth quarter with Milford Mill leading by a point, but Woodlawn’s Ronnie Harris had turned the tide with a blocked punt that he also recovered for a touchdown.
With 7:31 remaining, Milford Mill return man and quarterback Rishon Holmes took the ball deep into Woodlawn’s territory. While his team struggled on the first three downs, Holmes completed five consecutive passes — the last being the game-sealing 5-yard touchdown to Isaiah Iroanya for the Millers’ 25-18 win.
The senior quarterback had four touchdown passes on the day. His first two came in the first half to Jamar Gainer and Sheldon O’Brien. A third went to Niem Snowden. Once he saw a chance to strike for a fourth, he didn’t allow the opportunity to slip out of his hands.
Holmes trained with his teammates for moments like these throughout the offseason when COVID-19 wrecked their fall plans.
“That’s just all about trust,” Holmes said. “You have to trust each and every one of your teammates, no matter which position they play or what side they’re on. You just have to trust them. Me and the guys were just out there working and working. I was practicing as a quarterback, running back, special teams and all of that. All of that work just translated to the field.”
It had been one year, three months and 20 days since Milford Mill played its final game against Patuxent in the playoffs. Since that moment, the spring team now consists of a mix of junior varsity and varsity players. With many players didn’t get the opportunity to play at the lower level, there were a number of mistakes made.
Milford Mill had two bad long snaps and two blocked punts. Two of those snaps resulted in touchdowns to bring an otherwise spacious lead of 19-6 at the half to a one-point deficit. Millers coach Reggie White understood that there would be some growing pains, but he demanded excellence from his team.
“It’s been awhile since we’ve walked up and down these sidelines in a game time situation,” White said. “It was tough, but we’ll get through. We’ll fix those mistakes — we’ll fix the punt-team mistakes, we’ll fix the snaps, the speed of the game. All of that stuff is fixable. The only thing that I’m convinced about are the mental errors and we can’t have mental errors with players going the things like that. That ticks me off.”
Woodlawn scored three times with its first touchdown coming from quarterback Jaden Gorden’s 1-yard rush with 9:03 left in the second quarter. The second and third Warrior scores came in the fourth quarter with 10:07 and 7:31 left.
The Warriors’ special teams play was key and it was something that coach Tavon Mason made a point of emphasis in his first game as the head man. He was a special teams standout at Virginia and was a standout at Woodlawn.
“These guys [at Milford Mill] have been gelling for years,” Mason said. “The biggest thing with us at Woodlawn is just trying to get that longevity and trying to get that flow with each other before another group comes in. So, like I told the guys, ‘I know you’re upset. I’m upset too, but I’m blessed to have you all on my team as players.’ Certain components of the game stepped up. That’s the same thing that we preach to our guys — special teams plays a role. We had four blocked punts, two for a touchdown and two interceptions.”