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December 11, 2011

D-6 Championship Review

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If you are a somewhat loyal reader of this site, then earlier today you probably saw Tom Garrett's article about the Division Five championship game in which he detailed the new format that we are using for covering the state championship games at the AAA level.

For those of you who may have skipped that fine piece of literature, note that we are forgoing the traditional game recap format that we would normally use in lieu of the live game blog that Matthew Hatfield provided yesterday which essentially provides game recap information. As such, I will transcribe thoughts that Tom Garrett and I shared with each other in watching the Division Six championship contest featuring a pair of 13-1 teams with Oscar Smith out of the Eastern Region meeting Centreville out of the Northern Region.

As we prepare for the kickoff of the contest, Tom has noted that he believes that Centreville is going to have some defensive matchup problems in this game leading to the Oscar Smith offense being able to move the ball. With that, he sees them winning by a couple of touchdowns. Given what I have seen from the Tigers through the playoffs, I tend to agree as they have scored at least four touchdowns in the first half of every playoff game to their run here. It will be key for the Wildcats to frustrate them early and often.

Oscar Smith will receive the opening kick so our theory will be tested right out of the gate.

The opening snap of the game for Oscar Smith goes through the back of the end zone for a safety leading to a 2-0 Centreville lead just five seconds into the game. Moral of this story? Tom and I are idiots. Tom feels that has not been proven conclusively at this point.

Centreville returns the safety kick to the Oscar Smith 38-yard line and has about as good of a start as a team can get in the championship contest.

First decision of the game for Coach Chris Haddock as the 'Cats go for it on fourth-and-two from the Smith 30. Linebacker Trey Billups stuffs the run and the Tigers defense proves up to the task early in this one. Is that the first shift of momentum?

As Jaylian Williamson rolls right out of the pocket and completes a pass to move the chains on a third-and-ten, it coems to my mind that his ability to use his feet to extend plays has been greatly undervalued over the course of the season. He has made several big things happen through the postseason by keeping plays alive. He's no dual-threat runner but he is nimble enough to be very, very dangerous and his receivers do a great job of running to open space.

Possible storyline to keep an eye on -- Centreville defensive end Ken Ekanem twists an ankle or knee and is taken out of the contest to be looked at on the sidelines. On the very next play, Oscar Smith throws a 26-yard pass to the Wildats 4-yard line. J.C. Coleman scores on the very next play giving the Tigers a 7-2 lead on their first "true" possession and possibly serving notice that their offense is going to have a big day. Tom and I may not be idiots, just yet. [Ekanem never returned to the contest and appeared at the postgame press conference with a stabilizing brace on his knee]

Centreville immediately moves into Smith territory but fumbled the ball away on a muffed handoff. Smith wasted no time taking advantage as Williamson hit Zack Jones on a 49-yard pass that was lengthened by a facemask penalty on the Wildcats putting the ball on the Centeville 10-yard line. Two plays later, Williamson finds Melvin Vaughn in the front corner of the end zone pushing the Oscar Smith lead to 13-3 (missed extra point) just over nine minutes into the contest.

One of the top receivers in the state through the postseason, Jones is the younger brother of Smith assistant coach Joe Jones and University of Virginia running back Perry who is watching the contest from the sidelines.

The question remains -- can the Centreville defense overcome what we perceive to be matchup problems? Thus far, the answer is no.

Oscar Smith runs back-to-back reverses on a punt return and the first down play and though the punt return paid off with a 40-plus yard return, the first down play was stuffed and felt a little bit cutesy. However, just one play later, Williamson found a wide out Vaughn for a first down at the Centreville 33-yard line so it's tough to criticize playcalling that is working 5 out of 6 calls.

End of the first quarter -- Oscar Smith 13, Centreville 2

Here's the real problem for Centreville -- as pointed out previously, even when they do get pressure on Williamson, he scrambles out of it and makes plays down the field.

A screen pass to Zack Jones to the exact spot from where the Centreville blitz originated leads to another touchdown and a 21-2 Tigers lead (two-point conversion to Melvin Vaughn) and there is still 34 minutes to play in this game. Tom went to grab some food and I may not be too far behind unless Centreville rallies in a hurry.

Huge play coming up! Fourth and goal for Centreville at the Oscar Smith four-yard line and the 'Cats throw the ball leading to a pass interference on Oscar Smith meaning first down for the 'Cats on the Tigers' 2-yard line. Three plays later, a slant pass touchdown to Chase Walter with the extra point makes the score 21-9 with 3:53 left in the half.

This may mean new life for Centreville but their defense will have to make it stand up.

A fumbled kickoff by Oscar Smith recovered by Centreville on the Tigers' 34-yard line suddenly makes things much more interesting.

For the second week in a row, defensive lineman Brandon Riddick has pulled a rabbit out of a hat for the Tigers. Against Battlefield in the state semis, he picked off a pass and returned it for a score. Now, he snuffs a Centreville drive by stepping in front of a pass and returning it into Wildcats' territory.

Centreville pressure has caused problems for the Tigers offense recording a sack, snuffing a screen pass, and forcing a scrambling Williamson to throw the ball up for grabs to an offensive linemen which has led to a fourth-and-forty-three yard situation with the Tigers punting from their own 20 with 52 seconds to play in the half. Zack Jones' punt travels just past the first down marker putting the Wildcats on their own 35-yard line.

Sack by Smith. Centreville lets the clock run out.

Halftime -- Oscar Smith 21, Centreville 9.

Opening possession of the second half, Josh Townsend intercepts a Mitch Ferrick pass and returns it 43 yards for a touchdown and, after the missed PAT, the score is now Oscar Smith 27, Centreville 9. That may be the death knell for the Northern Region champions.

It's difficult to see Centreville making this game a contest now though I truly feel that it might be too early to write off a 13-1 progam like the Wildcats. Nevertheless, the mountain that they have to climb has grown significantly after that play.

On fourth-and eighteen, Oscar Smith fakes a punt and converts the first down as Zack hits Jeff Woods in the flats who shakes one Wildcats defender in the open field to get past the down marker. Two plays later, Coleman scores on a nine-yard run with pushes the score to 34-9 with 4:32 to go in the third quarter. The good news for fans at this game is that there may be plenty of room on I-64 tonight as the crowd is starting to thin.

Centreville is not ready to go home yet, however, piecing together a scoring drive that with the missed PAT makes the score Oscar Smith 34, Centreville 15 with 1:12 left in the third quarter. It will take a minor miracle but the 'Cats are still fighting.

End of the third quarter -- Oscar Smith 34, Centreville 15.

Tigers open the fourth quarter with a punt. Centreville ball on their own 30-yard line.

Fourth-and-one at midfield, Centreville converts. Too little, too late or beginning a the most dramatic comeback in recent memory?

Rhakeem Stallings puts an end to any comeback notions with a sack and strip which is scooped up by Brandon Flowers and returned to the Centreville 15-yard line. With 8:12 to play in the contest, the Tigers are once again threatening.

J.C. Coleman scores his third touchdown of the day for Oscar Smith which makes the count 40-15 with 7:54 left in the contest.

How many Centreville drives have started from their own 40 or closer in this game? Eight! The headlines about this game will focus on the Smith offense but the Tigers defense deserves a lot of credit for this win as well. The average start for the Wildcats in this contest was their own 44-yard line yet they scored only three times.

Interception by Melvin Vaughn to snuff another Centreville drive. That's five turnovers in this contest for the Northern Region champions matching the total from South County in the first game.

Freshman Dashawn McCleese scores on a 54-yard run with 1:49 to play to make it 47-15. Anyone looking forward to defensing him for the next three years? Anyone?

Connor Coward concludes the scoring for the night with a 13-yard run with 27 seconds left in the contest.

Final Score : Oscar Smith 47, Centreville 21.

Your 2011 Division Six state champions -- the 14-1 Oscar Smith Tigers!

Postgame video -- opening comments from both coaches

Full post-game audio from the Centreville Wildcats

Full post-game audio from the Oscar Smith Tigers

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