Springers’ JV num­bers sec­ond to none

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - COLLEGE BASKETBALL -

High­land Springs was the area’s No. 1 team in 2018 from the pre­sea­son to the end of the reg­u­lar sea­son, go­ing 10-0 and outscor­ing its op­po­nents by an av­er­age of 50-4. But the Springers may not be the Rich­mond area’s most dom­i­nant high school foot­ball team. They may not be the best team in their own school.

The ju­nior var­sity Springers just wrapped up a 10-0 sea­son and outscored their op­po­nents by an av­er­age of 58-1. They recorded eight shutouts, won one game by a score of 94-0 and claimed an­other by for­feit.

This isn’t any­thing new for the JV Springers. They’ve won 40 con­sec­u­tive games dat­ing back to 2015. That year, they fell on the road at Her­mitage 35-14. On the bus ride back to High­land Springs, coach Fa­reed Saun­ders told his play­ers, “You’ll be back over here when it mat­ters most.”

Saun­ders was right. Last year, High­land Springs’ var­sity team went to Her­mitage for a third-round play­off game. The fresh­men in 2015 were now ju­niors on the var­sity. High­land Springs won 24-14 and went on to claim its third con­sec­u­tive state ti­tle two weeks later.

The 2017 var­sity Springers sur­prised the state as a prac­ti­cally new team won a state cham­pi­onship. Of course, they were a dom­i­nant ju­nior var­sity team the year be­fore. Cur­rent quar­ter­back D’Vonte Waller threw for 33 touch­downs as a sopho­more on the JV.

The High­land Springs ju­nior var­sity now has a ros­ter of 55 play­ers — 30 fresh­men and 25 sopho­mores. As the foot­ball ros­ters at other schools shrink, the num­bers at High­land Springs re­main healthy and strong.

Saun­ders cred­its his var­sity coach, Loren John­son, for putting an em­pha­sis on ju­nior var­sity foot­ball. It’s not un­com­mon, Saun­ders said, to see the var­sity staff at a JV camp or a 7-on-7 game. And the JV pre­pares the same way the var­sity does.

“A lot of [the pro­gram’s] suc­cess starts there,” Saun­ders said.

Plus, John­son is a phys­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion teacher, so he sees the JV kids in school, keeps an eye on them and en­cour­ages them. Saun­ders works at nearby Fair­field Mid­dle.

Saun­ders be­came the ju­nior var­sity coach in 2013 and has recorded four un­de­feated sea­sons in six years. Much like the var­sity team, the JV Springers spread the ball around nu­mer­ous play­ers.

Sopho­more run­ning back Jor­dan Jack­son, sopho­more quar­ter­back and re­ceiver Ja­ma­reeh Jones and sopho­more de­fen­sive back Da­mond Har­mon are just a few of the ju­nior var­sity play­ers who will be prom­i­nent names on the var­sity next year, Saun­ders said.

While the High­land Mike Hen­der­son

Bird coach Troy Tay­lor were both a part of that

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