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September 21, 2013
The Oscar Smith Tigers entered their game with the Western Branch Bruins having dominated their first two opponents by a scoring advantage of 103 - 2. Western Branch experienced success in its first two games with wins against Peninsula District foe, Bethel High, and a Southeastern District combatant, the Hickory Hawks.
On Friday night, the nine-time Southeastern District Champions welcomed the Bruins to Beard-DeLong-Easley Field for what could be a future playoff matchup for these district competitors. The outcome was a lot closer than the capacity crowd expected, with the Tigers (3 - 0) edging Western Branch (2 - 1) by a score of 27 - 14.
Tigers set the tone early: Oscar Smith won the opening coin toss and quickly employed its "fast-break" spread offense, under the direction of 14-year-old freshman Shon Mitchell. Starting on their own 49-yard line, following a brilliant kickoff return of 42-yards by senior Jaylen Bradshaw (a Virginia Tech commit), the Tigers featured the precision passing of Mitchell and thunderous running of junior tailback Deshawn McClease to move the ball 51 yards in seven plays. This drive was capped by a 3-yard touchdown run by McClease. The PAT by junior placekicker Brad Davis made the score 7 - 0.
After a short punt by the Bruins, Oscar Smith claimed the ball on the Western Branch 35-yard line and drove for its second score by virtue of a 6-yard pass from Mitchell to junior tight end Josh Sweat. In less than five minutes, the game looked like a runaway for the home team at 14 - 0.
The Bruins' squad, which battled valiantly throughout the night, scored a second TD on an 8-yard run from senior RB/WR T. J. Boothe. The Western Branch offense moved the ball 62 yards in seven plays. Boothe would carry the ball on five of the plays, lining up as a "wild-bear" back. He also hooked up with senior WR Michael Hodge on a 17-yard pass completion during this final series.
The Bruins' defense kept their team in striking distance throughout the contest. After a game-ending injury to leading tackler senior Ronnie Gardner, who had a fumble recovery and several tackles to his credit, junior Kenan Johnson, along with seniors Terence Ricks and Jeremiah Young exhibited leadership, which helped this unit turn in a solid performance.
Key Game Stats:
Smith - 27:
Branch - 14:
Merlin C. Vaughan serves as a sports analyst for Chesapeake WCTV's coverage of high school sports in the South Hampton Roads region. He is also the host of a sports talk program, The SportScene, airing on WCTV in Chesapeake, VA. Periodically, Merlin files articles for VirginiaPreps.com.