Thursday, November 12, 2009

Deltona edges South Lake, 17-14

The Daily Commercial
Staff Writer

GROVELAND -- Walter Banks knows his team can compete with the best.

The South Lake High School football coach found that out earlier this season when the Eagles battled Tampa Catholic, East Ridge and Apopka into the fourth quarter before losing all three games.

More often than not, it seemed like South Lake's biggest enemy was itself -- critical mistakes at crucial points in games. A penalty here and a turnover there, and what had been a three- or four-point deficit turned into a double-digit defeat.

In Friday's season finale against Deltona, South Lake self-destructive tendencies reared their ugly heads again and thwarted a late comeback attempt in a 17-14 loss.

"We had a lot of bad breaks this year and didn't show the kind of consistency I was hoping for, but I'm so proud of these kids," Banks said after he spoke briefly with his team, including 13 seniors who had played their final game for the Eagles. "I can't think of one time when our kids quit on us. No matter what happened on Friday, they always showed up on Monday, ready to work and they gave us everything they had.

"Fans may look the win-loss record and think we've had a bad season, but I saw a lot of positives come out of this year and I can't wait to get back to work with our returning players."

South Lake (3-7) played well enough to win, with the exception of two plays on defense and one on offense.

After a scoreless first quarter, Deltona got its single-wing offense untracked and launched an eight play, 52-yard drive that was capped off with a nine-yard scoring run. On the drive, the Wolves (4-6) had three plays that gained at least 10 yards.

South Lake responded with a 10-play drive that set up a 52-yard field goal attempt by Roberto Aguayo, who booted a 51 yarder earlier this season. His school-record attempt, however was blocked and returned, and when the made scramble for the loose ball subsided, the Wolves had possession on South Lake's 28-yard line.

On the next play, Josh Dagley swept around right end and appeared to be stopped, but the senior powered through the scrum and scampered in for the score.

"We weren't ready to play in the first half," Banks said. "Tonight was Senior Night and the pre-game festivities broke up our pre-game routine. I don't think we really got comfortable and back to playing the way we're capable of playing until the second half."

After forcing the Wolves to punt on their first possession after intermission, South Lake running back Steel Stewart blasted through the left side of Deltona's defense and appeared to be on his way to a 60-yard scoring dash. Stewart, however was caught at the one-yard line and fumbled the ball into the end zone.

Deltona recovered and took possession on the 20.

Once again, South Lake's defense stepped up and forced a one-yard punt and took possession on Deltona's 34-yard line.

On the ensuing possession, Stewart redeemed himself by 29 yards on four carries in the drive, which was capped by his three-yard run.

Late in the fourth quarter, trailing 17-7, South Lake scored on a 27-yard pass from Jonothan Cox to P.J. Harris to get within a field goal.

Once again, the Eagles defense rose to the occasion after a failed onside kick and stopped the Wolves, regaining possession on their 26-yard line with one minute, 43 seconds to play.

After receptions of 14 and 19 yards by Curtis Davis, the Eagles had moved the ball to Deltona's 41 with less than a minute to play. Needing only about 10 yards to give Aguayo a shot a game-tying field goal. Cox overthrew his intended receiver at the three-yard line and the ball was picked off by Donald Matthews to seal the win for the Wolves.

South Lake's defense limited Deltona to 185 yards of offense. Dagley led the Wolves with 73 yards rushing and he completed his only pass attempt to Shane Lewis for 22 yards.

The Eagles turned in 331 yards of offense. Stewart led the way with 156-yards rushing on 19 carries and Cox completed 10-of-24 passes for 168 yards. Harris was the team's leading receiver with three catches for 68 yards and a touchdown. Davis had four catches for 55 yards.
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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Giles ready for second chance against Radford this Friday night

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD — Three plays. That’s all that Jeff Williams thinks kept Giles from defeating Radford last week and clinching its fifth Three Rivers District title in the last six years.

Actually, it might be less than that.

“Take those three plays — hey, take one of them — and I feel like we finish on top,” said Williams, whose Spartans lost 23-19, having been outscored 20-6 after the break. “It just wasn’t meant to be.”

It won’t take long for Giles to get another shot at the Bobcats. They’ll meet Friday in the Region C, Division 2 playoffs in Radford at 7:30 p.m.

“Nothing is going to change,” said Williams, in his second season since replacing Steve Ragsdale. “We’ll be blocking and tackling again on a Friday night.”

Williams is especially anxious for the blocking part. He didn’t think the Spartans did that well, but they have an excuse. Six-foot-3, 290-pound guard Justin Farmer is playing with a cast after breaking his hand in two weeks ago against Floyd County, while Ryan Lucas is out with a dislocated elbow.

“I think we can do a better job of blocking,” Williams said. “After watching the videotape, we had success with them, we had good yardage rushing, we had over 300 yards of total offense and we had two backs with over 100 yards rushing.

“I just didn’t think we blocked very well. We didn’t block as well as I think we can block. We’ve got to get back out there every day, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and get back to blocking.”

Giles led 13-3 at halftime against Radford, but were immediately penalized 15 yards for coming out of the locker room late. Radford responded to the short field, and scored a touchdown. The Spartans responded with a 19-play drive and a score of their own, but the Bobcats came right back.

“We kicked the ball off into the end zone and they had 80 yards to go,” Williams said. “We got confused on defense a little, we were late getting lined up and they busted two plays for 80 yards, and we had kept them hemmed up pretty good all night.

“We were moving the ball on our next possession, but we threw an interception and they returned it 70 yards for the score. Two big running plays and that interception turned the whole ball game.”

Making their seventh straight playoff appearance, the three-time state champion Spartans haven’t changed during that time. They still run the single wing, led by fullback Justin Gautier, who had 128 yards against the Bobcats.

Andrew Eppling and Travis Robertson have split the duties at halfback for the Spartans. Gautier is also among the walking wounded. He’s questionable for Friday after suffering a case of turf toe.

“Andrew and Travis have done a great job for us,” Williams said. “They’ve been splitting time at the tailback spot — our premier running back spot.

“They have shared every other play in practice. That was my plan going into the season and it has worked out really good for us.”

What hasn’t been kind is the injury bug. Williams said the injuries started to mount for Giles against Floyd County when Farmer and Lucas were both hurt, and the Buffaloes’ best player even suffered a broken ankle.

“We made it through three-fourths of the season pretty good,” Williams said. “That Floyd County game two weeks ago, it just hit us. That is always a tough and rough football game.”

Radford is led by quarterback Dontae Carter, who Williams refers to as a Tyrod Taylor-Michael Vick type. Carter had 92 yards rushing and a touchdown, and threw for 45 more. Kevin Adkins added 91 yards, while Corey Dark picked off the Eppling pass and returned it for the score.

D.J. Palmer, a transfer from Christiansburg, leads the Bobcats in rushing, while Josh Oliver is a force on the defensive line.

“They’ve got a good little running back, but they’re really athletic, a typical Radford football team,” Williams said. “They’ve got a kid playing defensive tackle who is one heck of a football player and their quarterback is a special player.

“They are a typical Radford High School football team. They’re real athletic, they move around well on defense, and they’ve got athletes on offense.”

Even with the injuries that have plagued Giles, especially on the depleted offensive line, Williams won’t allow the Spartans to use that as an excuse.

“We just have to get in there with the kids we got.” Williams said, “and cut out the turnovers and not make the penalties and cut down the mental mistakes and I think we’ll be OK.”

Williams has placed extra emphasis on blocking this week in practice, hoping that will help the Spartans get past the Bobcats, and advance to the Region C semifinals next week at George Wythe.

“That’s what we always do, but we feel like we can block a little bit better,” Williams said. “We’ve got one with a broken hand and one with a dislocated elbow so we’re getting a little thin.

“We don’t have a lot to go on, but the other night they did a pretty good for us. They played hard and played pretty physical, but we just didn’t come out on top in the game.”

Making the playoffs is nothing new for the Spartans, who have compiled an 8-5 record in the postseason since their current string of appearances began in 2003. Giles won the state title in 2005, and lost in the finals in ‘06.

The Spartans fell to Chilhowie last season, Giles’ first opening round exit since ‘03.

“This is our seventh year in a row in the playoffs and that’s a nice accomplishment in itself,” Williams said. “I hope we can go over and play the best we can on Friday night and see what happens.”

Bluefield Daily Telegraph
P.O. Box 1599
928 Bluefield Avenue
Bluefield, W.Va. 24701


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Seniors protect the Bulldog football legacy

By Dan Sousa
Source: Special to the Loudoun Times-Mirror

After Stone Bridge lost to Madison on Oct. 19 – the school’s first-ever loss to a Liberty District opponent in 35 games -- the Bulldog seniors gathered in a somber players-only huddle on the field.

“We were down,” senior left guard Eric Volz said. "We needed to come back hard."

The loss highlighted a fear that this senior class, which had gone just 4-6 as freshmen in a program that simply did not lose freshman football games, would somehow let down the Stone Bridge legacy of six consecutive district titles and seven straight trips to regional title games and beyond, including a AAA Division 5 state title in 2007.

“We heard people say, ‘Your senior class is going to be bad,'” said senior right tackle Rich Freitas, who moved into the program midway through his freshman year. “After the Madison loss, we just said, ‘Let’s get back to work.'”

And that's what the seniors and Stone Bridge did, going back to basics, which meant running the single wing offense.

The Bulldogs were able to add their chapter to the school’s football legacy with three wins to finish the regular season, including a 45-22 victory over South Lakes Nov. 6 in a game that wasn’t as close as the final score indicates.

With a fifth consecutive Liberty title and an incredible eighth-straight district title in the bank with the 9-1 regular season, the Bulldogs weren’t ready to think about a rematch with South Lakes this Friday at home in the Northern Region Division 5 quarterfinals.

Instead, they were ready to celebrate by posing for photos with the district-title banner and the smiles were biggest on the sweaty faces of the seniors.

“This has got to be satisfying for them,” Stone Bridge coach Mickey Thompson said. “They were committed to the weight room. They were loyal. They stayed loyal to the program, to the coaches. They didn’t point fingers after that freshman season.”

Victories paved on the back of adversity are, perhaps, the sweetest to savor and Volz was almost emotional describing the feeling for the seniors.

Senior center Kyle Wrenn said, “It was harsh that year, having to go 4-6.”

While the junior class, led by running back Marcus Harris – who had four touchdowns Friday – and quarterback/safety Kyle Gouveia and safety Spenser Rositano, were the face of this year’s Bulldog success, that was just fine with the seniors as long as they continued the winning tradition.

“We are not a flashy group,” Freitas said. "We are down to earth and hard working."

The loss to Madison also forced the Bulldog coaching staff to huddle. The Bulldogs spent almost half of the loss to the Warhawks in offense sets other than their trademark single wing offense and it just wasn’t working.

“It was like a slap in the face to the coaches,” Thompson said. “That loss really helped us. We finally stopped searching for something that wasn’t there.”

The result was Stone Bridge from start to finish against South Lakes in the single wing, running the spin series that over the years has confounded defenses. Run after run resulted in 300 yards on the ground.

“The single wing ... That is what we do. That loss made us go back to basics, to our roots and just play football,” Thompson said.

Stone Bridge 45, South Lakes 22

First Quarter
SB: Harris 3 run (Shaban kick) 10:16
SB: Shaban 21 field goal 4:45
SL: Price 48 pass from Rana (Belt kick) 3:19
SB: Harris 49 run (Shaban kick) 2:07

Third Quarter
SB: Rositano 34 pass from Gouveia (Shaban kick) 9:48
SB: Harris 1 run (Shaban kick) 5:35
SB: Harris 3 run (Shaban kick) 2:52

Fourth Quarter
SL: Jones 3 run (Belt kick) 10:56
SB: Thomas 3 run (Shaban kick) 1:52
SL: Khan 4 run (Lewis from Zarco) 0:06

Individual leaders

Passing: SL-Rana (9 of 18 for 127 yards, TD); SB-Gouveia (2 of 3 for 49 yards, TD), Rody (4 of 6 for 37 yards, Int.)

Rushing: SL-Jones (9 for 37 yards, TD), Smith (10 for 36 yards); SB-Harris (23 for 188 yards, 4 TD), Rankin-Bell (6 for 48 yards)

Receiving: SL-Price (8 for 127 yards, TD); SB-Rositano (2 for 46 yards, TD)

-Read more of Dan "First and Goal" Sousa's work at VivaLoudoun.