What it was: High school football in the time of corona
SHEPHERDSTOWN — Putnam County is a long way — even as the crow flies — from Jefferson County.
Putnam County was designated as a “gold county.” Jefferson County was also a “gold county.” The only way gold counties could play football games was if they faced another gold county team.
That is how Jefferson was on-field in Shenandoah Junction playing the Redskins of Hurricane High School.
The Redskins had only played five games, while Jefferson had jury-rigged its schedule enough times to have gotten in eight games.
It turned out to be a perfect early November weather night for football. And for the Hurricane a 22-17 win allowed it to qualify for the state’s Class AAA playoffs that have been slated to begin this weekend.
As if penned by Grantland Rice or even William Shakespeare, the final outcome was still in limbo right up until Jefferson finally turned over its final possession on downs with but 54 seconds remaining and the Cougars scratching away from near midfield.
After Jefferson counted a 21-yard field goal from Oren Humphreys, the Redskins sent quiet echoes through their mostly empty bleachers when Jeremiah Riffle scooted 80 yards with the kickoff following Humphreys’ field goal. Jefferson’s scant lead had lasted only 12 seconds.
The game’s next points came from the Cougars after Spencer Powell intercepted a Redskins pass and then took a 34-yard pass from Sammy Roberts that landed him on the Hurricane 11. Christian Blowe got the six points on a short run.
Just seconds before halftime, Hurricane’s Ismael Borrero threw 27 yards to Elijah Rivera to send the Redskins off the field with a morale-boosting 13-10 lead.
As the third period moved steadily along, Tyrone Washington stormed in from two yards out, gifting the Redskins with a 20-10 advantage.
Jefferson countered with Blowe’s 19-yard TD run to get back to within 20-17 of the Redskin lead.
The game made necessary by the continuing coronavirus had its last points when the Cougars surrendered a safety on a high snap from punt formation that landed in the Jefferson end zone and brought the Redskins a lead of 22-17.
There was no more scoring.
But to further follow the season-long story line of unknowns, color-coded counties and change almost for change’s sake, the Cougars rested near midfield when a final completed pass to Powell was about a yard shy of a necessary first down and disappointed Jefferson for the final time in the wild and woolly 2020 season that ended with the Cougars reporting a 3-6 record in nine games. Hurricane was lifted to 4-2 overall with a future outlook that could include the playoffs.