Stafford’s season defined by teamwork
STAFFORD — The Stafford High School football team comes at opponents so hard you would swear upon leaving the field that coach Roger Pierce has more than one McClelland and Sullivan in his arsenal.
Well, in fact, there is.
As for the McClellands, there’s senior Thomas McClelland and his younger brother Justin.
Thomas McClelland, is a 5-11, 171-pound running/defensive back, who was recently named the Commonwealth District Offensive Player of the Year along with making first team on both offense and defense. Justin McClelland is a 6-2, 227-pound junior lineman, who has been one of the keys to his older brother always being able to find daylight.
Not to be outdone are the Sullivans.
The gridiron Sullivans are comprised of two seniors Tim Sullivan and Kevin Sullivan (no relation).
Kevin Sullivan, a 5-8, 162-pound gritty two-way player, also plays baseball in the spring. He was named to the all-district second team as a defensive back.
Tim Sullivan is a 6-0, 191-pounder in his final year at the Falmouth school, who has been a three-year starter for the Indians. On offense, he played tight end the past two years before being moved to fullback this year. Defensively, he has been a mainstay at the linebacker position where he was named to the second team, all- district.
Tim Sullivan is the other back in an offense that has seen Thomas McClelland, not only break the school’s single season rushing record, but has him 44 yards shy of the 2,000-yard mark.
What McClelland is to the outside gain, Sullivan is between tackles. Both have been extremely effective. On the season, Tim Sullivan has amassed 507 yards on 67 carries and three rushing touchdowns. Sometimes the versatile athlete lines up under center as the Indians quarterback in place of starter Michael Allshouse.
Tim Sullivan’s best game came against Friday night’s opponent in the Northwest Region championship game, Culpeper. On just seven carries at Culpeper in the pouring rain, Tim Sullivan accumulated 101 yards, including a 40-yard gainer.
But it was on defense and special teams, where he shined in the 24-7 win on Oct. 25. As it is with almost every game, Sullivan was the Indians leading tackler that night as he was against Halifax in the region semis finals with 11. He also pulled down one of the two Indians’ interceptions on the night from Blue Devils quarterback Ben Pearson.
Sullivan is the leading tackler for Stafford (9-2) just ahead of linebacker Chris Collins and has four interceptions on the season.
“We just won the battle at the line of scrimmage that night,” Sullivan said. “We were really pumped up for that game and that night our line just dominated. I run primarily between the tackles and I was able to pick up some good yardage.
“I like the power running game between tackles. It reminds me of the days of John Riggins. Even then, you knew it was coming and opponents still couldn’t stop it.”
According to McClelland, who has been the center of attention, teamwork is the foundation of this close-knit group.
“The beauty of this team is no one is an individual, we win as team and lose as a team. And when you win as a team it doesn’t matter who gets the credit because you got the win.”
The majority of those linemen that ignite the offense Collins (5-8, 195-pound guard), John Bradshaw (6-5, 294-pound guard), Robert Wickline (5-10, 242-pound center), Justin McClelland (tackle), James Pruitt (tackle) and tight ends Robert Thompson and Jay Montgomery turn back around and play defense when the ball is headed in the other direction.
Sullivan, who said the Indians relished the underdog role they played most of the season, aren’t concerned with the previous games: their focus is on Culpeper.
“We have to repeat what we did last week,” Sullivan said. “We practiced hard all week and prepared well on Thursday and Friday put our game-face on. Last time [against Culpeper] we won the battle up front. Hopefully we will be able to do that again.”
The winner of tonight’s game will play the Central Region champion _ either Patrick Henry-Ashland (8-3) or Hopewell (8-2) _ in the state semifinals.