A Tale of Two Halves

Dominion outscores Clarke County 22-0 in the 2nd half to pull out the 25-14 win in their season opener.

For the Dominion Titans, nothing comes easy. They didn’t have an easy time replacing three key injured players in Thomas Wajsgras, Jesiah Kotey, and Isaiah Allen. They didn’t have an easy time playing their home opener at nearby Park View High School while their turf field installation is being finished. Nevertheless, they emerged from their season opener with a 25-14 comeback win over the Clarke County Eagles, but also emerged with a controversy with their quarterbacks.

The big question for the Titans was at with their signal callers. Last year’s starter, Thomas Jarman, graduated, leaving a gaping hole with two options to plug it.

Junior Aidan Dolan had been in the Dominion system since freshman year and had quarterbacked the JV team as a sophomore last year. Alexander “AJ” Darr, another junior, transferred to Dominion from Stone Bridge over the summer and the two had been in a tight battle for the starting spot.

Coach Buckwalter and his staff had kept quiet about the position, choosing to only reveal the decision to the public when Darr ran out for the first Titans offensive possession. Darr’s tenure as quarterback started out poorly, as he dropped the first snap from under center but quickly fell on top of it.

That play seemed to set the tone for the Titans in the first half, as their offense sputtered and their defense seemed to have very few answers to the Eagle’s run heavy game plan. After two quarters, the Titans were down 14-3.

At halftime, Buckwalter said, “We just questioned their mental toughness right now and the will to overcome adversity.”

The Titans started out the second half with a bang, as Darr lofted a deep pass to fellow junior John “Trey” Hayes, who scampered into the endzone to bring the Titans within one score.

Hayes said, “the ball wasn’t supposed to go to me at first, but my man tried to press me… I got away from him, just got open deep… and just ran in for a touchdown”.

The momentum was on Dominion’s side, but the points were nowhere to be found. Darr turned the ball over two times, including throwing a high pass that bounced into a Clarke County defender’s arms.

It seemed like Buckwalter had had enough at that point. The next time Dominion had the football, it was Dolan taking the snaps. On his first series, he handed the ball off to another member of this star-studded Dominion junior class, Steve Zegbe. Zegbe saw a hole, burst through it and took it to the house from 63 yards out to give the Titans the lead for good.

They would tack on another touchdown and a two-point conversion. Buckwalter said they took Darr out, “to have AJ settle down a little bit and watch… nothing major.”

While Buckwalter didn’t give any indication as to who he would start next week, Trey Hayes however, was effusive in his praise for Dolan, saying, “I think Aidan brings more enthusiasm to the team. He’s more of a general on the field.”

No matter who starts next week, the Titans have to feel exceptional about this win. This was a rematch that they had been waiting for since last year, when they lost in brutal fashion, 39-24. They led 21-10 heading into halftime, but were demolished in the second half, outscored 29-3.

This year, the Titans were the ones coming back in the second half, outscoring the Eagles 22-0. They did not however, leave the game unscathed by injuries. Hayes went down untouched late in the third quarter on a handoff and had to be helped off the team. He later returned to the game. After the game, he revealed, “Both my calves cramped up, and my hamstring cramped up.”

Jamari Robertson, a starting defensive lineman for the Titans, hyperextended his knee and mildly strained his Achilles tendon. The Dominion trainer, Rickie Atkins, said, “he’ll be fine.”

The now 1-0 Titans will head to Potomac Falls next week to take on the Panthers in a rivalry game.