JAMES CITY COUNTY — When the Lafayette Rams scored another touchdown against the Lord Botetourt Cavaliers with 1:45 left in the final quarter, head football coach Andy Linn thought, “Now we just need to keep them from scoring. It’s not over just yet.”
But then, when the clock ran out at Wanner Stadium on May 1, and the final score was 27-13, the Rams found themselves to be the new state champions. This was the team’s first statewide win since 2001.
“This win is great for the school but what it really does is validate the kids and all the work they’ve put in,” Linn said.
Linn has been with Lafayette since 1997, seeing the Rams win their last state championship. Since 2001, the Rams have made it to 5 state championships but were never able to successfully pull off a win. This proved to be the year that was the exception.
And what a year to win a state championship, too.
“This team has had to go through so many COVID mitigations,” Linn said. “But the kids were unwavering. They did everything we asked them to do. They were incredible.”
With a shortened season of 9 games, the Rams pushed through major barriers to get their win. Linn said that the team wasn’t able to start lifting weights until January. Even then, they could only do it with eight people at a time.
But while the team wasn’t able to see each other in person during the school year, Linn committed to texting with each class to check in on students. He, along with his wife and daughter, delivered t-shirts to starting 9th and 10th graders along with team swag bags with Gatorade and t-shirts to student athletes.
During playoffs, Linn said that the team lost five starters due to injuries or COVID-19 exposure.
“There were so many unique situations,” Linn said. “It felt like the longest year of my career.”
But all of the trials and tribulations paid off, and now Lafayette High School has a new reason to be proud. This win wasn’t just a victory for the players on the field. It was the cumulation of every football player and fan to once again be able to walk the halls of Lafayette High.
“That win was for everyone who laid a brick in the foundation,” Linn said.
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