Wildcats claw nearly to the finish line

Armstrong’s loss to Brentsville comes during Coach Pruitt’s absence

Fred Jeter | 11/30/2023, 6 p.m.
Armstrong High’s most illustrious football season in more than 70 years came up a smidgen short Nov. 24 in the ...
Jeremy Pruitt

Armstrong High’s most illustrious football season in more than 70 years came up a smidgen short Nov. 24 in the Class 3, Region B finals.

The Wildcats lost, 30-28, at Brentsville District (near Manassas) when, with seven seconds left, the hosts scored on a short pass from Nico Orlando to Tyler Owens.

Finishing 9-4, Armstrong played without Coach Jeremy Pruitt who was suspended by the Virginia High School League for what it ruled as inappropriate social media comments.

Coach Pruitt, a former All-CIAA linebacker at Virginia State, has put the East End school back on the football map in his three seasons on Cool Lane.

Under Coach Pruitt, the Wildcats have improved from two wins in 2021, to four in 2022 and nine wins this season. The bold-letter victory was against previously undefeated Thomas Jefferson in the region semifinals.

Against Brentsville, senior quarterback Tony Allen closed his career in style, running 14 yards for one touchdown and passing for three others – two to A.J. Byrd and another to Nekhi Cherry.

In all, Allen was 11 for 19 in the air for 212 yards.

Allen might have had another TD if not for fumbling near the goal line. The loose ball rolled out of the end zone, giving Brentsville possession.

Ahead by seven late in the game, Armstrong faced a fourth-and-long situation inside its own 10. The Wildcats chose to take an intentional safety (giving Brentsville two points) and reducing its lead to five.

This was the furthest Armstrong has gone in a football season since the start of the VHSL playoffs in the late 1960s. In 1947, Armstrong won the State VIA title. (The VIA was the governing body for Black schools prior to merging with the VHSL.)

Armstrong also had an undefeated season in the 1970s, but was unable to go to the playoffs due to the late date with Maggie Walker.

Regarding Coach Pruitt’s suspension from veteran AHS Activities Director Glenn Anderson:

“I’d just like to say that although we would have loved to have Coach Pruitt on the sidelines, he prepared his coaches (Henry Jean and Andre Rawls) to operate the team as if he was there, and they did a great job.

“We are very proud of what Coach Pruitt and his team accomplished this year and we are excited about the future of Wildcats football.

“I would especially like to thank the more than 200 fans who traveled from Richmond to support us.”

Asked about any long-range ramifications from the VHSL suspension, Anderson said:

“I believe Coach Pruitt has fulfilled his responsibility as far as discipline is concerned.”