POWHATAN – On that first day of school, Jim Woodson, then in 7th grade, went into his classroom and - when his first teacher was at the door meeting all the kids as they came into the room - got down into a 3-point stance beside his desk, going “Hut! Hut! Hut! Guys! This is great! We’ve got a football coach for a teacher!”
And then, while 7th grader Woodson was still in his 3-point stance, in came his teacher – Bob Baltimore.
He looked at Woodson, who was thinking to himself: Oh gosh, I messed up.
“Let me guess!” Woodson remembered Baltimore saying. “You must be Jimmy Woodson!”
“Oh my goodness! He knows my name!” Woodson thought to himself - although he added, with a laugh, that Baltimore had been told by other teachers: Look out for Jimmy Woodson.
But from that point on, it was all athletics – football, basketball and baseball – and along the way at Powhatan, Woodson learned from four great mentors: Bob Baltimore, Ken Nichols, Richard Oberson and Jerry Ward.
They were his role models – the men who got him going in the right path.
They helped set the stage for Woodson’s 40 years of dedication to Powhatan Athletics as coach and athletic director.
Across his 34 years at the helm of the varsity football team, Woodson was surrounded by great players and great coaches - Ernie Henderson, Jason Campbell and Linwood Jackson among them. All of their efforts together led to 16 district championships, 8 regional titles, 2 state runner-up finishes, state championships in 1996 and 2003, and the winningest record (282 wins against 106 losses and 1 tie) by a head football coach in the Richmond-area in that 34-year span.
“I didn’t do this by myself - it’s a huge team effort,” Woodson said. “We’ve been fortunate over the years to have some extremely talented young men who have done some extraordinary things along the way....certainly they have to receive credit for our successes.”
Ernie Henderson was with Woodson every step of the way all 40 years, helping lead the team as the defensive coordinator and offensive line coach.
“He has made a difference in a lot of kids’ lives,” Woodson said.
Campbell and Jackson, who both played for Powhatan, both came back and helped coach the team for 25 years.
“They just love Powhatan Football,” Woodson said of Campbell and Jackson. “They eat, drink, sleep, bleed Powhatan Football...their heart is in it, their passion’s there.”
The tremendous coaching staff and players who were with Woodson throughout the years helped make that special Friday night on Sept. 13 possible, as Woodson – surrounded by family, cheered on by fans and presented with the commemorative game ball by Powhatan County Public Schools Superintendent Eric Jones, who came to the field via helicopter to greet him –witnessed the renaming of Powhatan High School’s athletic stadium to James W. Woodson Stadium in his honor.
“Words cannot describe it,” Woodson said. “It’s the most humbling thing. I’ve spent 40 years of my life coaching and working here in Powhatan High School and working with the kids – and I feel blessed. I feel like I got the blessing to have that opportunity to work with them. But yet, to get to this is just unbelievable. It’s something that you dream of and it’s just a great recognition.”
Following the stadium dedication, Powhatan Football honored the winning tradition established by Woodson, the coaches who worked with him and the players who played for them to the fullest, picking up its first season win – also the first for Mike Henderson as Powhatan’s head football coach – on a 46-8 trouncing of George Wythe.
“What an honor to follow Coach Woodson here,” Henderson said. “What a great program he’s built here, and it’s an honor and privilege to follow in his steps and…never going to replace him, but just to be the next guy in line.
“To put a performance like this out here and play well, it means a lot.”
Powhatan won the opening coin toss but deferred to the Bulldogs, who elected to receive….
…yet the Indians still capped the first offensive drive of the game with a big-play touchdown.
Aided by penalty calls on Powhatan, the Bulldogs marched all the way down to the Indians’ 34…
…only to see Brien Clay scoop up a fumble and out-run the Bulldogs’ swarm of pursuing defenders to the house for a 67-yard touchdown.
“He’s been making big plays for us all summer in practice…he’s been close in games, and it was nice to see him finally get one because he works hard, he’s been a good leader for us,” Henderson said of the 6-4, 235-pound lineman. “He’s very athletic – he’s got good speed, very nimble…”
Continuing to hold down the starting QB position, sophomore Hans Rehme spread the ball around, connecting with three different receivers for touchdowns and completing 6-of-7 passes for 80 yards. His fake handoff was a key weapon for him Friday as he took advantage of one to sprint through the middle for an incendiary 51-yard rush to push his team all the way down to the opponent’s 30. Mitchell Johnson finished off the drive with a short TD run from 2 yards out.
Rehme also led the team in rushing with 89 yards on 3 carries.
“He’s getting a little bit better every week with his reads,” Henderson said. “He’s getting better every week and he’s working at it and he’s studying film and he’s improving, so we’re very happy with him.”
Isaac Trent was flying around to the football to help his defense set the tone throughout the first half, and Powhatan’s secondary, led by Anthony Greenhow, Joshua Jordan and Jaysun Carroll, took away the passing game for most of the contest on airtight coverage. Both Trent and Jordan forced one incomplete pass each on a couple of short pass plays.
“The quarterback could really throw the ball, we stayed down field with the coverage pretty well,” Henderson said, also pointing to the strong pass rush, led by front-line leaders Clay and Wyatt Lowe, that made the Bulldogs get rid of the ball quickly.
Defense anchored Powhatan through the first six minutes, helping the offense overcome a lost fumble on its first play of the game with the help of Clay’s early score and a collective effort from the defensive front to simultaneously force a turnover on downs and push the Bulldogs back to Powhatan’s 15 yard line after they started a promising drive on the 7 off of the Indians’ fumble.
The floodgates opened from there, as Powhatan poured on all 46 of its points in the first half. The Bulldogs didn’t get onto the scoreboard until Emonte Bass threw an 81-yard bomb to Rodney Tucker in the fourth.
Powhatan (1-1) gets the Trojans (1-1) next. They’ll play at Midlothian High School on Friday, Sept. 20 at 7 p.m.
POW – Brien Clay 67 return (Mason Pinell kick)
POW – Mitchell Johnson 2 run (kick failed)
POW – Ethan Dowdy 36 pass from Hans Rehme (Pinnell kick)
POW – Anthony Greenhow 2 pass from Fleming (Pinnell kick)
POW – Jaysun Carroll 15 pass from Rehme (kick failed)
POW – Tye Morris 7 pass from Rehme (kick failed)
POW – Tristen Bradley 7 run (Pinnell kick)
GW - Tucker 81 pass from Bass (Bass run)