It wasn’t the Lombardi Trophy that goes to the Super Bowl winner. It wasn’t the Lamar Hunt Trophy that goes to the AFC champion each year.
No, it was the championship trophy for the United Football League that Marty Schottenheimer held in his hands Friday night. For the first time in his coaching career, he had a league championship as his Virginia Destroyers beat the Las Vegas Locomotives 17-3 at the Virginia Beach Sportsplex.
“I couldn’t be more pleased, not only for our squad and our coaches and myself certainly, but for the whole region,” Schottenheimer said after the game. “We all heard people say that this wouldn’t happen, but I said to a number of our staff members, ‘Who says we can’t make it happen? We’re going to make it happen.’ It was sort of against all odds, but now we’ve done it, and I take tremendous pride in that.”
It was a Marty-type of game one that was dominated by defense. Virginia FS Aaron Rouse had three interceptions, including one that he returned 46 yards for a touchdown. Rouse had another interception in the end zone and he was named the game’s Most Valuable Player.
“We set the goal of being champions,” said Rouse, who played in the NFL with Green Bay and the New York Giants. “Marty told us from the start, ‘One play at a time.’ He said, ‘Take it one play at a time, and at the end of the schedule you’ll be champions.’ And we are.”
In front of a crowd just under 15,000, Virginia’s defense did not allow a first down to Las Vegas until midway through the third quarter.
Destroyers RB Dominic Rhodes, who was named this week as the league’s offensive MVP, rushed for 90 yards. QB Chris Greisen completed 21 of 31 passes for 154 yards. Virginia put up 254 yards of offense, compared to 154 for Las Vegas.
“I’m a simple man and I don’t try to reinvent the wheel,” Marty said. “We just try to do the things that we do best. We got back to basics tonight and had a big game against a very good offensive football team.”