VIRGINIA BEACH (WAVY) – The high school football kicks off Friday night and the marquee match-up on the schedule, a rematch of last year’s Class 5 Region A championship game between Kempsville and Green Run.

The Stallions handed Kempsville its only two defeats last season, including that region title tilt.

“It’s very personal,” said Kempsville senior NaiQuan Pearce. “They’ve been talking all summer because they beat us twice last season and they’ve talked all summer. We’ve got a lot to prove this year. Last year was last year, this year is a whole new year.”

Kempsville’s recent renaissance has been under the direction of head coach Michael Cherry.

In 2019 the Chiefs snapped a 63-game losing streak and with returning players like quarterback Noah Lee, NaiQuan Pearce and Duke bound Quran Boyd, Kempsville has gone from a perennial last place team to state title contenders.

“The biggest thing is when I first got the job was just getting them to believe in themselves,” coach Cherry said. “They can play with anybody if they put the hard work in and just continue to work and reap the benefits, so the guys that started out as freshman are now seniors.”

Coach Cherry guided the Chiefs to a 9-2 record last season and that spot in the region championship game against Green Run.

“Coach Cherry came here my freshman year and turned the program around completely,” said quarterback Noah Lee. “Everybody believed in him and he’s been preaching that we will be a winning team and he’s done it.”

From a winless team in 2018 to a one-win team in 2019, the Chiefs are not only just contenders at the Beach, they’re contenders to win it all.

“It’s been a real humbling experience to go from a 63-game losing streak to being in the regional finals last year,” Pearce said “This year we’re looking for a state championship.”