The Bearcats celebrated on the field, after beating Ashville 28-7 to improve to 4-4, including 4-2 in Class 3A, Region 5.
About 20 minutes later, they burst into celebration in their locker room, upon learning by text message that Cleveland came back to beat White Plains 36-32.
The combined results meant Weaver clinched a playoff berth after a year’s absence, and Weaver coach Daryl Hamby had a moment like those he had as a self-described “Army brat” playing overseas, and while coaching under Larry Ginn at Alexandria.
“I want it for these guys,” Hamby said as he looked around the locker room. “I want them to experience some of the things that I enjoyed through not only coaching but playing.”
Friday’s results left Weaver alone in third place in the region standings with one region game to play. Cleveland and Glencoe are next at 3-3, and Weaver has beaten both this season.
Even if all three finish at 4-3, Weaver will get the tiebreaker, according AHSAA tiebreaking factor B: “If more than two teams are tied for any place, the team that defeated all the other tied teams in the required regular-season games will be placed ahead of all the other tied teams.”
Weaver beat Glencoe 38-13 on Sept. 6 and Cleveland 49-28 two weeks ago.
“It’s great,” Weaver senior quarterback and defensive back Timothy Hawkins said. “Everybody has been doubting us, and we just had to overcome adversity and show everybody what we had.”
Hawkins had plenty for Ashville on Friday. He scored on runs of 1 and 6 yards and completed a 59-yard screen-and-run touchdown pass to Austin Jennings.
Hawkins also intercepted two passes — one on a leaping, falling-back catch at the goal line late in the second quarter — to lead a shutout effort by Weaver’s defense.
Ashville’s lone score came on Darren Cook’s 51-yard interception return, which put the Bulldogs (1-6, 1-5) up 7-6 at 10:02 of the second quarter.
“We wanted to throw the ball to E.J. (Moss) tonight, and they had him (Hawkins) on him,” Ashville coach Steve Martin said.
Weaver also got a 1-yard touchdown run from DeAngelo Forbes at 4:49 of the first quarter.
The Bearcats will close out region play next week against Piedmont at home. An upset of second-ranked Piedmont, which lost 40-15 at No. 7 Saks on Friday, would give Weaver the second spot in the region.
However the Bearcats finish, “This is just such a good group. They deserve it,” Hamby said.
“They work hard. We’re always the underdogs, undersized. I’m just happy for them.”