When John Brown and Loren Johnson ran into each other at a football clinic, they shared a mutual need. Both their high school programs had openings on their schedules.
A matchup between the two state powerhouses made sense. Under former Stonewall Jackson head coach Loren Johnson, the Springers are one of three programs to win four straight Class 5 state titles. One more in 2019 sets a Virginia record.
Colonial Forge, meanwhile, has won 20 straight regular-season games and gone 52-11 since 2014. The two teams last met in 2014 when Highland Springs won the season opener 36-13.
“They win and win a lot and we win a lot,” Brown said. “We both have a hard time finding games.”
Johnson told Brown not to wait if the Eagles found an opponent sooner. But the schedule remained free on an available date for both schools. The two agreed to a two-year series with Highland Springs visiting Colonial Forge Nov. 1.
“It came out of necessity, but it’s a byproduct of being a good game in a good atmosphere,” Brown said. “This will be a game on a lot of people’s radars. It’s one they will want to see.”
With a new school building being constructed near the football field, the Springers are scheduled to play all their games on the road in 2019 and 2020. Previously scheduled home games could still be played in Henrico County at a neutral site.
Both teams return plenty of key players from last season. Highland Springs, which went 15-0 in 2018 and has gone 68-4 since 2014, brings back senior safety Malcolm Greene and senior athlete David Laney. Both are rated among the top 40 players in Virginia for the class of 2020 by 247Sports.com.
Greene, who has 29 offers, including one from Clemson, was first-team all-state in 2018 and Laney was second-team all-state.
Three all-state performers return for Colonial Forge in senior defensive lineman Chase Harley, senior offensive lineman Mason Rega and junior defensive end Michael Vinson. Quarterback Madden Lowe, the Commonwealth District Offensive Player of the Year, also returns.
Highland Springs is one of seven 2018 playoff teams on Colonial Forge’s 10-game regular season schedule and one of three who are non-district opponents. The others are Freedom, the 2018 Class 6 state-runner up led by former Colonial Forge assistant Darryl Overton, and Hylton, Brown’s alma mater. Hylton was a late addition after Osbourn dropped the Bulldogs from its schedule.
“We will be facing stiff competition, but to be the best you have to play the best,” Brown said. “If we are the last team standing it will be because of the opponents we played.”