Thursday, November 29, 2007

Virginia AAA Division 5 state semifinal

By Paul Tenorio
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 29, 2007; LZ16

After exacting some revenge by defeating Edison, 27-14, last week in the Northern Region Division 5 championship game one year after falling to the Eagles in the same round, Stone Bridge will look to continue its 11-game win streak on Saturday at home in a Virginia AAA Division 5 state semifinal game against Phoebus (13-0).

The Bulldogs (12-1) will fall back on the familiar, a powerful offense that can pound the ball in the single wing or spread things out and go to the air, in hopes of getting the Phantoms off balance.

"We're going to use all of our stuff, and if something gets hot we'll stay with it," Stone Bridge Coach Mickey Thompson said. "We'll run single wing, we'll run spread, and whichever stuff works we'll stick with."

The Bulldogs have the ultimate playmaker in Jeron Gouveia, who was the Liberty District's offensive and defensive player of the year. Gouveia is averaging a touchdown every 4.4 times he touches the ball and is a hard-hitting defensive force at safety. Against a Phoebus team with powerful athletes and a dangerous run game, Gouveia's impact might be felt most in his ability to make plays near the line of scrimmage without sacrificing anything in pass defense.

"The good thing about [Gouveia] is he always shows up in big games," Thompson said. "And I'm sure he'll be right in the thick of things. It's nice to have a safety who can make plays in the run game as well as the pass."

Thompson said it's difficult to know too much about Phoebus, but he has seen game tape and has an idea of what the Phantoms will bring to the field.

"You see film and you hear about them; I think they're basically a power type of team," Thompson said. "They're going to come right at you and they have a lot of good athletes, and the biggest thing for us is we have to run the football. Very few teams run on them; we have to run on them."

Phoebus beat Indian River, 26-0, last week in the Eastern Region Division 5 final.

But Thompson hopes to avoid a shutout because he has several playmakers at his disposal. From running backs Kareem Alexander and Gouveia to quarterback Patrick Thompson and wide receiver Ryan Moody, Phoebus certainly won't be able to focus on just one player.

And the coach said whichever plays are successful will dictate which playmaker sees the ball the most.

"If the ones where [Alexander and Gouveia] carry the ball a lot are working, then they'll get carries. That's how the ball is distributed; it's what plays are working," he said.

And although the Bulldogs may not know too much about their opponent or exactly which plays will end up being the bulk of the offense, one thing they do know is that it will be nice to play at home.

"I think that's a huge advantage for us," Thompson said. "It allows us to focus on the game and not spend so much time on travel, itinerary, where we're going to be, how we're going to warm up. All that stuff is set, so we can really focus on practice and get ready for Saturday."

With that, the coach said he had no expectations for the game, just hopes.

"I think we'll play our best game. Our kids are ready," he said. "Will it be enough? We'll find out Saturday."

The Washington Post


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