“I thought we might have something going there, but Galax just has a good team,” Barlow said.
The game turned into a harsh lesson for Barlow and his youthful teammates.
With a 340-yard rushing effort, the powerful Maroon Tide stormed to a 64-7 win over the Cavaliers in the opening round of the Group A, Division 1 Western Section playoffs.
Holston coach Jason Matlock paid credit to Galax, which displayed a mix of speed, balance and depth.
“They were 10-0 for a reason. That’s a solid team from top to bottom, and they played well again,” Matlock said.
The Holston roster includes 16 sophomores while freshman Seth Thomas starts at quarterback. The learning curve was high Friday, as Galax cruised to a 41-0 halftime lead and just kept charging.
Thomas and the undersized Barlow had little time to operate as the Maroon Tide forced four turnovers.
“To be able to experience the playoffs is good for our kids,” Matlock said. “Hopefully the extra week of practice and this game can pay dividends for us later on. “
Barlow left an impression, as he bulled for 74 yards rushing on 18 carries. He also scored on a 90-yard kickoff return in the fourth quarter.
“We played hard until the end, but [Galax] was there every time about we got the ball,” Barlow said. “We had heard about Galax all year and we knew they had a big game last week. We watched a lot of film and hoped they might have been looking over us, but they played good ball. Even their big guys were quick.”
Shane Milhorne supplied the blocking for Barlow while Luke Wampler and Tyler Seagraves were active on defense.
Galax, which averages 41 ppg., was coming off one of the biggest wins in school history last week at Grayson County. Before a massive crowd, the Tide bagged the Mountain Empire District crown with a 21-6 victory.
Senior quarterack Austin Pack, who has thrown for nearly 1,000 yards, keyed that victory.
“We have some unique kids who’ve had a lot of success and they’re comfortable in these types of situations,” said second-year Galax coach Mark Dixon, former NFL lineman and disciple of former University of Virginia football coach George Welsh.
Senior linebacker and running back Jordan Vaughan, who rushed for over 1,100 yards in the regular season, was forced out of Friday’s game in the first quarter with a rib injury. But speedsters Donte Peoples and Steven Peoples combined for 210 yards rushing and five touchdowns while running behind the heavy-hitting linemen such as Darius Brown.
“With Donte, Steven and Jordan in back there, that’s a load for anybody to handle,” Dixon said. “But obviously we are concerned about Jordan’s health.”
Pack contributed 160 yards passing but the Galax coach feels his team has room for improvement. “Anytime you can get a win in the playoffs you’re happy, but we’ve got to get better,” Dixon said. “We just don’t have a lot of energy right now. Hopefully we will get a little better crowd in our next game and get a better atmosphere.”
Holston earned a Region C championship in 2009 while Galax has lost in the regional finals three times since 1985.
“I was proud of how we kept fighting tonight,” Matlock said. “We will get back to work and see where this takes us next season.”
Barlow is already counting down the days to next season
“We’re going to have some talent, and this game can only help,” Barlow said. “We will be in the weight room all off-season and we will remember this game.”
Holston 0 0 0 7–7
Galax 21 20 10 13–64
G-Vaughan 7 (Brady kick)
G-Fisher 15 pass from Pack (Brady kick)
G-D. Peoples 20 run (Brady kick)
G-S. Peoples 1 run (kick failed)
G-S. Peoples 26 run (Brady kick)
G-S. Peoples 45 pass from Pack (Brady kick)
G-D. Peoples 33 run (Brady kick)
G-Brady 20 FG
G-Dixon 3 run (kick failed)
H-Barlow 90 kickoff return (Miller kick)
G-Dixon 2 run (Brady kick)
First Downs: H 5, G 18; Rushes-Yards: H 30-75, G 37-340; Passing Yards: H 37, G 160; Comp.-Att.-Int.:H 5-10-2, G 9-14-0; Penalties-Yards: H 2-6, G 2-15; Fumbles-Lost: 2-2, H, G 1-0; Punts-Average: H 5-33, G 0-0