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Fast start: Woodgrove rolls past John Champe

Woodgrove senior Mason Gryniuk hauls in a pass from Mike Kovich for a 55-yard touchdown to open the scoring in the Wolverines’ 30-3 victory against John Champe.—Times-Mirror/Rick Wasser
Woodgrove still remembered how it felt to lose last year.

So after winning Friday night, the Wolverines made sure to make their celebration just as memorable.

Not long after the final whistle blew in Woodgrove’s 30-3 victory over host John Champe on Aug. 26 in Aldie, the Wolverines’ student section rushed the field to rejoice with the team in a manner usually reserved for championship wins.

But in a way, that’s almost how it may have felt.

"We’ve been waiting for this game for a long time," senior quarterback Mike Kovich said. "And as soon as the first nerves left, I think everybody was just ready. We were ready to get going and we did."

Despite a school-record 11 wins and a trip to the 4A West Region semifinals, the Wolverines fully remembered a season-opening loss to Champe a year ago. In that game, the Knights rallied from a 14-6 fourth-quarter deficit to beat host Woodgrove 20-17 in overtime in Purcellville.

"This was an especially big win because last year, they kind of blindsided us," Kovich said. "They played a great game and just beat us. It was a terrible locker room after. We didn’t want to feel like that again. They had home-field advantage through the playoffs and that’s something that we really wanted, really needed.

"That was our motivation. Get revenge for our seniors that graduated, get some for us this year and get home field for the playoffs."

For Woodgrove, its most recent outing against Champe appeared to be a step in the right direction for just that.

After a lost fumble on a miscommunicated snap on their first possession of the game, the Wolverines scored on their next four drives (three touchdowns and a field goal) to build a commanding 23-3 halftime lead.

Senior wide receiver Mason Gryniuk went untouched into the end zone on a 55-yard slant from Kovich to open the scoring midway through the first. Senior kicker Cameron Gieseman then hit a 25-yard field goal and Kovich added two more scores on short touchdown runs to close out the half.

Senior running back Chima Kpaduwa finished the scoring on a 67-yard touchdown run in the closing minutes of the third quarter.

For the game, Kovich completed 9-of-14 passes for 159 yards, one touchdown and an interception, including a perfect 7 for 7 for 143 yards in the first half. He also had 62 yards rushing on 24 carries.

Gryniuk had six catches for 119 yards and fellow senior wideout Russell Blackwell pulled in three passes for 40 yards.

Both Kpaduwa and senior fullback Michael Stephens also rushed for over 100 yards.

Defensively, Woodgrove limited Champe to just 169 yards of total offense, with 97 yards coming on its two pass completions on the night. Of the Knights’ 11 possessions, the Wolverines forced six three-and-outs and three turnover on downs.

"That was one of the best defensive performances that I’ve seen since I’ve been here," said senior linebacker Zach Stanley, who helped anchor a defense last season that gave up the fewest points in a season (177) in school history.

In the second half, Champe twice reached the red zone but came empty on both occasions due to penalties and a lost fumble on the Woodgrove 5-yard line.

"Our defense is all about working hard and not letting anything up, and that’s exactly what we did every play," Stanley said.

The Knights, who finished 11-1 in 2015, didn’t receive their first loss of the season until the 4A West Region semifinals versus eventual state champion Salem. The Wolverines went 11-2.

Overall, Friday’s contest was only the fourth-ever meeting between the two schools. Woodgrove defeated Champe 51-0 and 32-14 in the first two matchups in 2013 and 2014.

Both schools have been on similar trajectories since their debut seasons in 2010 (Woodgrove) and 2012 (Champe), respectively. Since opening with consecutive losing seasons in their first two years of existence, both Woodgrove and Champe have only had winning campaigns and postseason appearances.

Woodgrove travels to Liberty High School (0-0) in Bealeton next Friday, while Champe takes on Spring Mills High School (0-1) in Martinsburg, W.Va.

Chima Kpaduwa touchdown run.

Woodgrove 30, John Champe 3

Woodgrove 10 – 13 – 7 – 0 — 30
John Champe 0 – 3 – 0 – 0 — 3

WG – Mason Gryniuk 55 pass from Mike Kovich (Cameron Gieseman kick) 6:48 1st
WG – Gieseman 25 field goal 0:45 1st
JC – Jake Morril 26 field goal 9:41 2nd
WG – Kovich 4 run (Gieseman kick) 4:45 2nd
WG – Kovich 1 run (kick blocked) 2:55 2nd
WG – Chima Kpaduwa 67 run (Gieseman kick) 1:20 3rd

Woodgrove leaders

Mike Kovich: 9-of-13 for 159 yards, TD, INT

Michael Stephens: 17 carries, 112 yards (41 long, 14 carries for 105 yards in 2nd half)
Chima Kpaduwa: 9 carries, 105 yards, TD (67 long)
Mike Kovich: 24 carries, 62 yards, 2 TDs

Mason Gryniuk: 6 catches, 119 yards, TD (55 long; 5 catches, 112 yds, TD in 1st half)
Russell Blackwell: 3 catches, 40 yards (31 long)

John Champe leaders

Cameron Parson: 2-of-15 for 97 yards

Carl Garmon III: 20 carries, 72 yards

Carl Garmon III: 1 catch, 59 yards
Branden Caffrey: 1 catch, 38 yards

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