Blue Streaks credit positive mindset, focus as keys for snapping 14-game skid

The Harrisonburg Blue Streaks football team talk about their first win in almost two years
Published: Sep. 28, 2023 at 4:52 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - The Harrisonburg High football team fell on tough times during a 14-game stretch dating all the way back to Oct. 29, 2021.

That date is the last time the Blue Streaks won a football game, a contest at home against Rockbridge County which saw Harrisonburg won 32-31.

“Staying positive is one of the hardest parts about it,” said Harrisonburg tight end and defensive lineman Mason Smith. “But if you love the game, you’re going to stay positive about it. You go into each week having a mindset you’re going to win.”

The 2023 got off to a rough start for Harrisonburg. Through three games, not only were the Blue Streaks still looking for their first win, they were also looking for their first touchdown.

Entering their Week 5 matchup against East Rockingham, players say something felt different during pregame.

“Before, I could sense people weren’t taking it as serious but in that locker room it was dead silence for a good couple minutes,” said Harrisonburg quarterback J.J. Engle.

The Blue Streaks offense went three and out to start the game and Engle had to leave after the first play because of an ankle injury. However, he’d later return to the game.

East Rockingham would go down and score on its opening drive to take an early 7-0 lead but the Blue Streaks defense would only surrender three more points the rest of the game.

Harrisonburg took the lead in the third quarter when Engle hit Deacon Jones for a touchdown pass. However, the Blue Streaks offense had great field position thanks to a blocked punt by Smith.

“I knew they were trying to contain me outside so I ran straight outside and the ball came to me and I blocked it,” said Smith.

Trailing 7-6 with two minutes left in regulation, the Engle and Jones would connect again for a go-ahead score.

When time expired and the Blue Streaks secured a win, there was a feeling of elation on the sideline.

“If I’m being honest, that was probably the happiest moment of my life,” said Engle.

Smith says the winning feeling almost didn’t feel real.

“Great coaching. All the players played well,” said Smith. “It felt so deserved. We’ve worked so hard for this.”

The Blue Streaks are back home Friday night to take on Amherst County.

“After losing 14 in a row, you forget what winning feels like,” said Engle. “You just get used to losing. Now that we got the win under our belt, hopefully we enjoy that feeling more than losing and we go get another feeling like that.”