football

Division Five Championship Rewind

For the
first time since 1966, a Norfolk city school has captured a football
state championship, as the Lake Taylor Titans beat the Stone Bridge
Bulldogs 20-14 at Scott Stadium on the grounds of the University of
Virgina.
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hspace="10" vspace="10">The Titans carried a 14-0
lead into halftime, then scored first in the
second half to take a 20-0 lead before the Northern Region champion
Bulldogs stormed back with two scores of their own to cut the lead to
one touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Late in the contest, Stone Bridge drove into the Lake Taylor red zone
but, with 20 seconds remaining, a blitzing Brandon Moore
stripped the ball carrier near the line of scrimmage, where
teammate Jamel Spellman fell on the loose pigskin to secure the
Division Five state championship for the Eastern Region Titans who
finished the season with a perfect 15-0 mark.
"We were hitting them and we were aggressive," said Lake Taylor head
coach Hank Sawyer. "They were taking some hits and kept
coming back. When the ball popped out, we had two or three
guys scrambling for it, and I sprinted on down the field because I knew
we were State Championship. It was just an awesome, unreal,
unbelievable feeling."
VirginiaPreps.com's coverage of the game:
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href="http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.471518096217757.92113.100000787114156&type=1"
target="_blank">See Rod Johnson's photo feature of
the contest with 115 images
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href="http://virginiapreps.rivals.com/content.asp?CID=1446672"
target="_blank">See Matthew Hatfield's Live Game
Blog
href="http://virginiapreps.rivals.com/showmsg.asp?fid=2533&tid=160770881&mid=160770881&sid=914&style=2"
target="_blank">See Tom Garrett's video package
with 4 minutes of highlights
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href="http://vmedia.rivals.com/uploads/914/1339676.wmv"
target="_blank">Stone Bridge post-game press conference
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href="http://vmedia.rivals.com/uploads/914/1339684.wmv"
target="_blank">Lake Taylor post-game press conference
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href="http://vmedia.rivals.com/uploads/914/1339959.pdf"
target="_blank">Official Box Score from STATVA
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style="font-size: 10pt; line-height: 115%;">Offensive Player
of the Game: Lake Taylor QB Delmon Williams
The junior
quarterback and All-Eastern Region First Team selection for the Titans
connected on 13 of 15 passes for 160 yards, two touchdowns and no
interceptions in leading Lake Taylor to its first-ever state
title. Williams completed all nine of his passes in the first
half. Perhaps his best moment of the game didn't come with his arm,
but rather on the move: He was able to use his legs to keep a
play that looked like a sure sack alive, turning it into an 11-yard
first down in the fourth quarter with Stone Bridge trying to rally.
"I thought that was a big play and the best defense against a Stone
Bridge is for you to be on offense," said Lake Taylor Head Football
Coach Hank Sawyer on the flip play by Williams, escaping pressure
from two defenders, including Jon Allen for a completion of
11 yards to Brandon 'Pork Chop' Moore.
"I always get on him to try to show emotion, but I guess that's a good
thing not to show any emotion so the other team can't see what he's
thinking. He can make all the throws and he made them today,
the guys caught them and it was just a team effort. As big as
that team was, we went against an All-American today, Gatorade State
Player of the Year, and the line held him off long enough for Delmon to
make the throws."
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style="font-weight: bold;">Defensive Player of the
Game: Lake Taylor LB Jamel Spellman
The co-Eastern
District Defensive Player of the Year, Spellman is the guy that makes
all the calls defensively for the Titans from his middle linebacker
position and a definite senior leader for Lake Taylor. He finished with
13 tackles, eight solo stops, a sack, and recovered the fumble to seal
the deal with 20 seconds remaining and
Stone Bridge driving for a potential game-winning touchdown.
"In the last time-out they called, Spellman and Pork Chop kept saying
let's hang in there and let's keep doing what we're doing. We've got
them Coach," said Sawyer in the post-game press conference.
Regarding the game-sealing play, Spellman said, "Our goal was to key
the fullback. When I seen him to go to our right, which is
their left, I sprinted over there as fast as I can. I tried
to make the tackle, saw the ball pop up and I just ran for it and dove."
"Our defense plays together. No matter how many people you've
got in the backfield, we're going to come. Whoever's got the
ball, they're going to get hit," said Spellman regarding the 2012 Lake
Taylor defense.
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style="font-weight: bold;">Game-changing Play:
A third-and-a-mile
Delmon Williams pump-fake for a 68-yard
touchdown to Jakale Pinkney allowed the Titans to draw first blood,
taking a
7-0 lead with 2:45 to go in the first half. This was an especially
important
play because Lake Taylor hadn't moved the ball against Stone Bridge up
to that
point. After getting a couple of first downs, the bad snap that set up
the
third-and-long looked like it might doom the Titans to another punt.
Yet, this game-changing
play not only put the Titans on the board, but it also swung all the
momentum
to Lake Taylor.

On
the very
next possession, Stone Bridge tried to punt out of a normal offensive
("quick
kick"-type) formation instead of dropping Burns deep, and the result
was a
blocked kick that gave Lake Taylor the ball deep inside Stone Bridge
territory.
The Titans quickly cashed in again with another touchdown pass, this
time from
Williams to Nhyre Quinerly, giving Lake Taylor a two-score lead at the
break in
a game that had been a major defensive battle up.
To
see the big play:
href="http://vmedia.rivals.com/uploads/914/1339671.wmv">http://vmedia.rivals.com/uploads/914/1339671.wmv
Said
Williams about the big play, "When I faked it to Jalyn [Holmes] and saw
him [Pinkney] run past, I knew he was wide open. I didn't
want to overthrow them. They were putting the safety way on
the other hash. They were jumping the bubble
[screen]. That got momentum for the offense and the defense
because we were struggling to score at first."
The
receiver, who dropped a sure touchdown pass in the state semifinal
contest, wanted his redemption in the title game. "The last
game I had dropped a second touchdown pass but I told Coach I had his
back next time."

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style="font-weight: bold; font-family: Verdana;">Keys
to
the Game:

1.
Stone
Bridge fumbles: Mickey Thompson pointed to the Bulldogs putting the
ball on the
ground four times as a major disruption to the Stone Bridge offensive
flow.
Indeed, the two fumbles lost by the Bulldogs proved costly. This was an
uncharacteristic game for Stone Bridge in this regard, as the Bulldogs
normally
execute with near-flawless precision.
"I
thought that everything we thought we were going to get we got," said
Stone Bridge Coach Mickey Thompson. "There weren't any
surprises. We mishandled the ball way too much on offense,
too many balls on the ground got us behind so it made it hard to make
it up. In the end again, it was the ball on the ground that
was the end of the game for us."
2.
Special teams momentum-changers: Two big plays on special teams helped
make
a difference in the outcome of the game. First, the blocked or tipped
punt that
gave Lake Taylor great field position late in the second quarter and
allowed
the Titans to put a second score on the board with just 15 seconds to
go in the
half. Secondly, a punt return fumbled by Rassaun Goldring that gave
Lake Taylor
another short field and led immediately to the 11-yard Daquan Davis
touchdown
that provided the Titans with their eventual winning score.
Thompson
noted, "You come into a game like this you know you can't put the ball
on the ground and have miscues. We had the fumble on the
kickoff return that gave them the touchdown, and on the kick I think
Ryan just missed it a little bit, plus he got a little
penetration. Those two plays really hurt us."

3.
The dynamic play of Delmon Williams: Williams had a solid game,
throwing for
160 yards and two touchdowns on a very efficient 13-of-15 day. His
improvisational skills allowed him to avoid the Bulldog pass rush and
occasionally make a positive out of a negative, such as when an
impromptu
lateral to Brandon Moore created a net difference of about 20 yards on
one
play.
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style="font-weight: bold; font-family: Verdana;">Stone
Bridge Season Wrap Up
After
winning the regional titles for four consecutive seasons from
2007-2010, Stone Bridge was elminated from the 2011 postseason in a
25-3 loss to South County that some considered the death knell of the
Bulldogs' stranglehold on the Northern Region Division Five title.
Coach Mickey Thompson
and his crew saw it differently. They got hungrier than ever.
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It
showed through the regular season as the Bulldogs won all ten games
that they played by at least two touchdowns scoring at least 27 points
in every game while holding all but one opponent to 14 or fewer points.
Essentially, the Stone Bridge Bulldogs had regained their
swagger.

They
opened the postseason with back-to-back wins over Edison and Langley
but found themselves trailing Yorktown 29-7 in the regional title game
before they ripped off 55 unanswered points en route to a 69-50 victory
which led to a state semifinal contest against Central Region champion
Hanover, whom they topped 28-21.
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Appearing
in their fifth state championship game since 2005, Stone Bridge, who
captured the title in 2007, fell for the fourth time to an
Eastern Region team by making one too many mistakes.
Said Thomson, "I'll be honest, we talked about playing Phoebus from day
one and nobody we played did we really worry about. When we
played the other teams, all we said was we're getting ready for
Phoebus. And then when Phoebus wasn't there, we were getting
ready for Lake Taylor. It's the same type of team. We've got to play to
that speed. We put it out there from day
one and we were here, it just didn't happen again."
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style="font-weight: bold; font-family: Verdana;">Lake Taylor
Season Wrap Up

Lake Taylor carried a
17-7 lead into the fourth quarter of the 2011 Eastern Region Division
Five championship game against Phoebus. However, the Phantoms scored
ten unanswered points, including a game-winning field goal as time
expired, breaking the Titans' hearts in the process The loss may have
strengthened the resolve of the 2012 Titans as internally they vowed
not to fall
to the Phantoms (or to anyone else) again this season.
The
Titans opened the season as the #3-ranked team in the state in Divison
Five behind both #1 Phoebus and #2 Stone Bridge but a 51-0 victory over
8-3 Bethel in the second week seemed to announce that the group was
ready for bigger and better things this year. Though they
were
pushed hard by a 9-2 Granby squad in a 27-25 victory that the Titans
won on the
last play of the game, the Titans essentially cruised to a perfect 10-0
regular season by winning every other game by at least three touchdowns.
The Lake
Taylor cruise continued through the regional postseason by winning
their three
contests by a combined score of 151 to 7 setting up a date
with Northwest Region
champion North Stafford on the road, a game that the Titans won with a
field goal with six seconds left on the clock capturing a 23-21 victory.
"North Stafford was tough for us going there. Being able to
embrace the five weeks after the regular season was over, it's a
challenge within itself, trust me," noted Sawyer.
The
Titans' season of destiny was tested right up until the final seconds
of the Division Five title game when their defense made a play that
will live in Norfolk lore. The Lake Taylor resolve was tested
and
they were found worthy of being champions.
Said the estatic Sawyer after the game, "It got a little bit emotional
for me because you don't hear love on the football field very
much. But it's an awesome love. To see young people
lay down, play hard and fight for you, it's just amazing."
Lake Taylor's Motivation
"We saw a video about a month ago and he talked about you've to want to
win a Championship more than you want breath in your body, more than
you want to eat. We saw that video and we've embraced it,"
said Sawyer. "That was my pre-game talk. It wasn't
about 38-40 players anymore or the ten coaches. It was about
when I looked up in pre-game warm-up and saw those people that came
from Norfolk. You've got to want it for them, for your fans,
your parents."
target="_blank">Motivational video referenced by Lake Taylor
head coach Hank Sawyer
This report was compiled
with contributions from Matthew Hatfield, Rod Johnson and Tom Garrett.
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