By Robbie Handelsman ’23
With banners now flown across campus, and echoes of “Beat EHS” heard within every building and on every brick pathway, The Game is officially here. The oldest rivalry in the south continues this Saturday in Alexandria, Virginia in the Hummel Bowl following the bonfire on Friday night. The game this year marks the 121st match-up between Woodberry Forest School and Episcopal High School. Woodberry currently leads in the all-time record with 59 wins 52 losses and nine ties between the teams. The Tigers and Maroon come into The Game with 6-2 records. The Maroon and the Tigers have most notably both beaten 7-2 Georgetown Prep.
Episcopal has relied heavily on its defense this season, allowing only 12 points a game while putting up under 17 points a game. Woodberry, on the contrary, has put up over 27 points a game while giving up 23 points a game.
One of the stars of last year’s game was quarterback Harley Shuford ‘23. Following Shuford’s game-sealing diving two-point conversion, the catchphrase “The Leap” made its way around campus.
When weighing in on this year’s game, Shuford emphasized that “Each team has had incredible seasons so far so it should be a great one. I’m just so excited to suit up with this team one final time.”
On paper, the game looks to be a stellar Woodberry offense against a very strong Episcopal defense. Woodberry’s three-star defensive end Rodney Lora ‘23 and four-star Notre Dame Commit defensive end Armel Mukam ‘23 could very well make major differences on Saturday. The two have paired up to become one of the strongest defensive end pairings the state has ever seen.
Lora stated that “This is a new culture at Woodberry and this game will be the best version of team 124. [Saturday] will be known as the Matteo Massacre.”
Mukam added, “The expectation is to win. If we play Woodberry Forest Football, I think we’ll like the results when the buzzer sounds at the end of the game.”
The question of The Game is whether or not Episcopal will have an answer for Prep League Player of the Year Landon Ellis ‘23. Ellis has been Woodberry’s Swiss Army Knife, doing it all on offense. Ellis has seen snaps at wideout, tight-end, half-back, and quarterback. Ellis is no stranger to The Game. As a freshman, he scored on a fumble recovery and caused what felt like an earthquake last year with his clutch 70-yard catch in the fourth quarter. Ellis will in no doubt be the focal point of the Tigers’ attack which has a deep bag of tricks, with one of the most talented wide-out groups in the state, including Hunter Rockhill ‘23, Manning Leachman ‘23, and Jaden Ferguson ‘24.
Ferguson remarked that “They can’t double-team all of us.”
“EHS is a great team this year and we’re going to have to fight,” Ellis shared. “I think we’ve put in the preparation all year to come out on top.”
Woodberry Headmaster Dr. Byron Hulsey recently called the game “one of the best high school rivalries in the country.” It is shaping up to be another fantastic match-up, filled with life-long memories and great football.
Ellis summed up the Tiger faithful’s excitement for the 121st game by saying, “I’m just excited for the last opportunity to play with my brothers as a Tiger.”