Fluco captains at midfieldThe Flying Fluco varsity football team took the field by storm in its home opener against Spotsylvania Friday night (Sept. 2) when the Flucos went all the way for a touchdown on their first snap.

The Flucos went on to top the Spotsylvania Knights 26-13 in the team’s first successful game after a winless season last year.
After the opening kick-off, the Flucos had the ball on their own 23-yard line. Senior quarterback Mark Grooms ran right on a keeper. He picked up a couple of nice blocks, broke a couple of arm tackles and then simply ran away from the Knights’ defenders for the score. Junior Ethan Graves kicked the extra point and the Flucos led 7-0 after 22 seconds of play.

 

Grooms, who was described by Coach Steve Szarmach as “a real workhorse out there for us,” was the offensive standout for the Flucos. He ran for three touchdowns, one in the last minute of play, and threw for a fourth touchdown.

As a result of the Flucos’ very early score, they never trailed in this game. However, the Knights were quick to knot the score in the first quarter. On their first series, four runs resulted in a first down. Then on third and one from the Fluco 49-yard line, an off tackle run went all the way and the point after conversion tied the score at 7-7.The Flucos took over on their own 25 and marched down the field. Grooms did most of the running, with senior fullback Craig Russo contributing with some hard short runs. From the 10-yard line, Grooms again kept the ball, breaking several tackles to take the ball in for the Flucos’ second score. The point after was no good and the Flucos led 13-7 with 4:06 left in the first quarter.

On their second possession of the game the Knights were already into the second quarter. On a fourth and four they went for it on the ground and the Fluco defense held them to three. The Flucos took over first and 10. Junior running back Trevor O’Dell carried the ball for a first down and Grooms dropped back to pass on the next play. He found sophomore wide receiver Joey Van Dyke wide open on the left side. Van Dyke outran all of the Knight’s defenders for a 38-yard touchdown. Senior kicker Kayllee Hellms converted the extra point and the Flucos had all the points they would need, leading 20-7.

Once again Spotsylvania responded right away. They marched the ball right down the field, exclusively on the ground. Helped by a personal foul against the Flucos, they punched the ball in on a six-yard run. The Flucos blocked the extra point so the score was 20-13 with 6:45 left in the half.

From that point on the game turned into a defensive struggle, with no more scoring until the very end. Szarmach commented after the game that he was very pleased with the way his defense held up against a “strong and varied” running game. Junior Drew Hamshar, senior Jordan Melton and Russo were credited for a number of key tackles for the Flucos. With just over seven minutes left in the game, the Knights tried a rare pass on fourth and four. Fluco senior defensive back Michael Mondragon broke up the pass and the Flucos took over.

At this point in a game, a team with a one-touchdown lead has one task and one task only. It must grind out first downs and run down the clock to avoid giving its opponent a chance to come back. The Flucos accomplished this task in superb fashion. Szarmach credited his offensive line for its yeoman’s work on this drive. With Grooms doing most of the running and with some help from Russo, the Flucos ground out first downs.

Grooms did break through for one long gain on a fourth and one.  As a result, the Flucos had the ball at the Spotsylvania 22 with a third down and five to go with less than a minute left. Grooms burst through the middle on a keeper for the final points of the game, giving the Flucos a commanding 26-13 lead with 0:31 on the clock.  Spotsylvania was unable to do anything in the final seconds and the Flucos raised their record to 1-1 with their first win since early in 2015.

The Flucos have their bye week on Saturday, Sept. 9. They travel to Culpeper High on Sept. 16 and are not home again until Sept. 21, when they host the Black Knights of Charlottesville High. They travel to Louisa High on Sept. 30 and then host Monticello High on Oct. 7.