After an undefeated first season of 8-man football, the Covenant football team took home the Virginia Independent Schools Football League (VISFL) championship on Saturday, defeating St. Anne’s 76-41. This was the first season for 8-Man football in the VISFL and Covenant football players dominated this inaugural season, defeating most rival teams by an average of almost 50 points.
Senior Rick Weaver and Sophomore Jonas Sanker commanded the game with rushing touchdowns and touchdown passes, and Senior Luke Sorenson, the quarterback for Covenant, ran for two touchdowns and completed two touchdown passes.
Head Coach Seth Wilson saw the potential of his team when they began practicing at the start of this season. “We started a mission to work as hard as possible in the weight room, film room, and practice field preparing ourselves to pursue excellence,” said Wilson, “and routinely, we were willing to engage in difficult and honest conversations to see where we needed improvement.”
The new 8-man football league was very beneficial for Covenant. It is challenging to compete in 11-man football when you have 20-25 players on a team. “In the past...many players had been counted on to do everything for the team,” said Wilson. “They rarely left the field and it took a toll on the players and their families. This year, that changed. We were able to field, at times, an offensive and defensive group where no one played both ways. That takes quite a bit off the players… it kept our guys healthy and provided an opportunity for everyone to have an important role on game days.”
Wilson said he believes this 8-man style also rejuvenated a passion for football in the Covenant community. The community’s excitement and pride in the team and in the school was evident throughout the season. “A couple students, who do not currently play...mentioned our success this fall enriched their school pride,” said Wilson. He said that two-hand touch football has taken over the Birdwood Campus’ recess time with multiple games going on during the day. “When you are pursuing excellence and having a blast while forming a brotherhood, people want to become a part of that,” he said. It also doesn’t hurt that Wilson is the Lower School PE teacher, as well as Head Coach. “I start the training process in Pre-K.”
The championship was icing on a well-baked cake of hard work, dedication, teamwork , and motivation for this year’s team. The game was well-fought against St. Anne’s, and after the half, Covenant players took their game up a notch. “That third quarter, we outscored our opponent 32-8 and took a commanding lead,” says Wilson, “and watching the smiles and joy on the faces of everyone after the game was a special moment we will cherish for the rest of our lives.”
When asked what’s in store for next year, Coach Wilson said they have plans to evaluate what they did well and what needs improvement, and continue to “build toward the future.” They are considering a coaching clinic and new teams to compete against in different areas. However, one of the main goals, Wilson said is, “to become the best version of ourselves, and that is up to myself and the rest of the staff to continue to build a culture that highly values that process.”
Located in Charlottesville, VA, The Covenant School is a non-denominational, private, Christian day school for Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 12. Students benefit from a challenging academic program, visual and performing arts, competitive athletics, and a wide selection of extracurricular activities.