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December 15, 2013
Centreville Rolls in 6A Championship
In a battle between two undefeated squads, the Centreville Wildcats avenged a loss to the Oscar Smith Tigers from two years ago in the State Championship with a dominating performance on Saturday in a 35-6 rout in the 6A state title game at the University of Virginia's Scott Stadium in Charlottesville.
It marked the first state title for the Wildcats since 2000 and completed the program's first ever undefeated season as they finished 15-0 overall, winning every contest that they played by at least 20 points.
Final Score: Centreville 35, Oscar Smith 6
#1 - - Ground & Pound: Coach Haddock felt the way to beat Oscar Smith was to do something nobody had done all season long, and that was run right at the Tigers. Centreville proved to be the only one successful running the ball on them this year and in the biggest spotlight of all, for all the marbles. They did it to the tune of a whopping 327 rushing yards and 4TD's on 56 carries. The trio of Walter, Turner and fullback Taylor Boose consistently moved the chains and did it against a defensive line that features two BCS prospects in Gatorade National Player of the Year Andrew Brown (UVA) and highly touted junior Josh Sweat.
Time of Possession told the story. Centreville had the ball 34:02 compared to just 13:58 for Oscar Smith. That included long stretches in both the second and fourth quarters. The Wildcats had it for all but 1:40 of the second period, and to close the game had it 10:43 compared to only 1:17 for the Tigers, who gained just 20 yards on 14 plays in that time.
Centreville turned those four takeaways into 21 points with their offense, taking advantage of working with a short field on a couple of occasions and the pick-six gave Oscar Smith in its largest deficit of the year. From there, it made the Tigers become more one-dimensional offensively. Xavier Nickens-Yzer came up with two interceptions, while sophomore defensive end Christian Brooks and junior defensive lineman Jordan Brooks each recovered a fumble.
Before Saturday, Oscar Smith was averaging 45.4 points and 351.4 total yards per game. For three quarters, they were scoreless and finished with 88 yards. Without a doubt, turning the Tigers over was a big deal in the outcome.
Their mixture of quarterback keepers with Walter, fullback trap plays with Boose and runs outside the tackles with Turner out of the Wing-T kept the Wildcats from having to punt much at all. In fact, after punting once in the opening quarter, Centreville went nine straight possessions without having to punt it back to the Tigers, illustrating just how effective their offensive line was and how well the running game established itself as things progressed.
A.J. Turner, Centreville - - The junior set the tone right away with a 52-yard scoring burst in the opening series for the Wildcats and his speed sure came in handy throughout the day. Turner, who picked up an offer from South Carolina out of the SEC earlier in the week, ran for 175 yards and two touchdowns, giving him an average of 9.7 yards per attempt against a Tigers defense that came in holding opponents to just 1.9 yards per carry. His ability to get outside the tackles was uncanny. For the year, Turner finishes with 1280 yards rushing and 32 touchdowns.
Xavier Nickens-Yzer, Centreville - - The junior defensive back really gave the Wildcats a "boost," according to Coach Chris Haddock when he returned an interception 60 yards for a touchdown in the game's opening quarter to extend Centreville's lead to 14-0. It was the first pick-six thrown by Oscar Smith all season long, and Nickens-Yzer wasn't done getting takeaways. He later added a second interception on a day where he also had three pass breakups. Oscar Smith entered the game completing 56% of their passes and completed only 25% (7 of 25) vs. the Wildcats.
Scott Walter, Centreville - - Gritty, gutsy and a true senior leader, Walter didn't lose a game all year long, and his guile in the elements proved to be instrumental to the Wildcats capturing the State Championship. While his passing numbers were pedestrian (just 3 of 5 for 11 yards with an INT), Walter racked up 90 yards rushing on 22 attempts and scored two touchdowns, the first coming on third-and-goal before the half to push the lead up to 21-0. He turned the ball over only once on the day, and for the season finished up with 37 total touchdowns, 27 through the air and 10 on the ground.
Wildcats 35: (15-0 Overall)
Smith Tigers 6: (14-1 Overall)
Matthew Hatfield has covered football and basketball since 2004 for VirginiaPreps.com, part of the Rivals.com Network. Check out Hatfield's Twitter page for more sports related updates, and you can also read his work in the Suffolk News Herald. To contact Matthew, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, and don't forget to listen to him every Saturday at 10AM on ESPN Radio 94.1, plus watch him on the Cox 11 Sports Report.