The Virginia High School League 2019 Class 6 all-state football team has been selected. Oscar Smith senior wide receiver/punt returner Romon Copeland, Jr. (5-8, 165) was selected Class 6 Offensive Player of the Year. South County senior defensive end Haris Khan (6-2, 215) was selected Class 6 Defensive Player of the Year. Copeland was also the first-team selection at punt returner. South County head coach Gerry Pannoni was named Class 6 Coach of the Year after leading the Stallions to a 15-0 record and the school’s first state title with a 14-13 win over Oscar Smith in the finals.
Thirty-two (32) players each were chosen to first-team and second-team all-state (Offense: one quarterback; four linemen; one center; three running backs; three wide receivers; one tight end; one kicker; one kick returner; one offensive all-purpose player. Defense: three defensive linemen; two defensive ends; four linebackers; four defensive backs; one punter; one punt returner; one defensive all-purpose player).
The South County Varsity Football team entered the state championship game on Dec. 14, 2019, undefeated with a record of 14-0; this includes beating Westfield High School 28-21 in the Class 6 semifinals to clinch their spot in the state championship game.
A team led by 40-year veteran Coach Gerry Pannoni, the Stallions went on to defeat perennial powerhouse Oscar Smith High School of Chesapeake, 14-13 in an intense defensive game. Oscar Smith struck first with a rushing touchdown to give the Tigers the lead in the first quarter; however a touchdown pass from South County’s quarterback, Matt Dzierski, to Zion Dayne would tie the game and a rushing touchdown by Keyshawn Toran eventually gave South County the lead. Oscar Smith would score again, but missed an extra point that would be the difference in the game. A scoreless second half led by the stout Stallion defense would give them their first state championship in school history.
Coach Pannoni Honored for 40 Years of Service
South County Varsity Football Coach Gerry Pannoni has been a dedicated FCPS employee since he began his career in 1980 at Groveton High School. Throughout his 40 years of serving students, he has worked at West Potomac HS, West Springfield HS, Lee HS, Woodson HS, Centreville HS, and South County HS. However, if you ask Coach Pannoni, he has never worked a day in his life because he has such a passion and joy for what he does. He often sees former students who have graduated college who thank him for seeing their potential and pushing them to work hard whether in class or on the field. They often credit a reason for their successes (going to college, staying off the streets, working in their family businesses) in part to Coach Pannoni. He has served as a father figure to many of his students and athletes by providing them mentorship, food, transportation and more. His successes were not just as a teacher and football coach, but also as a baseball and swim and dive coach, as well being an active member in his community and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Most recently, Coach Pannoni won his first state championship in December 2019, with the South County Varsity Football team beating Oscar Smith, 14-13. He has been a servant leader throughout his 40 years, going above and beyond the classroom to give of himself for his students and communities.