As the Stone Bridge High School football team gears up for its seventh state championship game and its second in as many years, the school’s supporters are preparing as well.
Once again, a large contingent of parents, teachers, students and fans will traverse the state for one of the school’s football games. They are making the nearly four-hour drive to Hampton University to cheer on their team in person as the Bulldogs look for the 5A title against Highland Springs.
Some students are decking out their cars before driving down as early Friday night to make sure they arrive in time for the noon kickoff the next day.
Several dozen students and staff members are taking the Spirit Bus, which has taken students from the Ashburn school to some of the Bulldogs major road games across the state. Students pay to get on the buses, which are typically rented from the school system. For longer distances, like Saturday’s game at Hampton’s Armstrong Stadium, the school rents charter buses.
The bus helped Stone Bridge pack fans into the visitors’ section of Fredericksburg’s Massaponax High School in this year’s Region Championship, and let them see a thrilling come-from-behind win by the Bulldogs.
In the regional semi-final against Brooke Point in Stafford, more Stone Bridge students made the trip to the game than students from the host school.
For the State Championship game, some students said they plan to bring pom poms, noise makers and home-made signs. Stone Bridge Senior Katie Bokulic said she’s brining a gong.
Meanwhile, the school has shown its support leading up to the game. Stone Bridge set up displays with balloons and names of the football players near the school’s entrance. The day before the game, the school organized a student body-wide pep rally and send off for the football team.
Additionally, basketball practices were rescheduled for the morning to allow basketball players on the football team to practice in the afternoon. The girls’ basketball team even worked with Woodgrove High School to reschedule their game from last Friday so the Stone Bridge players could instead cheer on their classmates on the football team.
Those are some of many examples of a how one team’s success on the field is inspiring the passions of everyone around it.
“If you have a successful fall with football, it sets the tone for the whole school year,” said Stone Bridge athletic director Dave Hembach. “It gets the kids involved. They want to be here.”
Stone Bridge students Jasleen Chawla, Colin Willis and Kennedy Novak contributed to this story.