Two weeks ago, the Virginia Chargers’ dominant rushing attack led them to a 37-10 win over the Maryland Phantoms for their second consecutive Atlantic Football Association Championship and their fourth in seven years.
“Our ground game turned the whole thing around,” Chargers head coach Louis Simmons told Developmental Football USA. “Their defense was pretty decent. They had a good defense, started running their mouth, but my offensive line is pretty big and they took that stuff to heart, I guess.”
Running back Michael Roberts led the way with 180 yards and three touchdowns on the ground and both Dominique Terrell and Justin Clinton continued to gash the Phantoms defense for Virginia.
(Photo Cred: High View Photography by Jennifer)
“Our offensive line, it’s pretty solid all the way across,” Simmons said. “I’ve got guys that have been with me 10 or 11 years and we’ve got a couple of new guys filling in too.”
Virginia’s defense has earned the name “The Dark Side” and has averaged less than 10 points allowed per game during the Chargers’ back-to-back championship seasons.
“They pretty much shut things down,” Simmons said. “Earl Babcock and Darren Davis, linebackers. Mike and George – they call them Salt and Pepper. Earl is the most experienced guy there, Bravo. Davis was the enforcer and Babcock was the brain. He knows how to put the defense in the right position and they work well together.”
The 2017 Championship Game was the Chargers’ sixth appearance in seven years and they’ve won four of them – 2011, 2013, 2016 and this one. This year’s championship run was almost cut short in the first round, but the Chargers managed to escape with a 22-20 win over the Virginia Beach Rhinos.
“It’s always a battle with them,” Simmons said. “That was probably our biggest test.”
With this win, the Chargers have put together three consecutive 13-1 seasons and a 79-12 record over the last seven years. Like any developmental team, adversity stared the Chargers in the face throughout the year, but the core of the team dug deep to bring them out on top.
“We played through a lot of injuries this year,” Simmons said. “That’s one thing that surprised me – the number of injuries we had this year. Work schedules killed these guys. They worked all fall and winter, overtime, to get off in the spring to play ball, then next thing you know we go down to a game with 25 guys, but we still pull it out. It’s nice to go into a game with the full roster,”
Regardless of how full the sidelines were each week, the Chargers faithful always showed up to support their hometown team.
“The fans we had this year, we had a lot of true fans that stuck with us,” Simmons said. “Throughout the years, they’ve stuck with us. We’ve had a lot of true fans throughout the years and a great staff.”
The Chargers were established in 1971 by Bob Shaw and Simmons first came on board as a player in 1973.
“I couldn’t play youth football, so I had to play at this level before I went to high school because I was too big,” Simmons said. “I played again for the Mason-Dixon Championship in 1980. I finished school and came back and played for them a couple more years.”
When the Simmons family brought back the team, they received tremendous support from the original alumni that has helped propel them to where they are today as an organization.
In his time as head coach for the Chargers, Simmons has helped 16 players go back to school and 14 have already finished their college degrees. Off the field, the Chargers also consistently help out in the community.
“We’re getting ready to do a camp at the end of July, helping a youth organization raise money,” Simmons said. “We’ve been real successful with this stuff. They charge the kids for the camp, then it goes right back to the kids. We do food drives, Toys for Tots and that kind of thing too.”