Eastern Region D-6 Championship Preview

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>On Thanksgiving weekend, we'll crown two Champions in
the Eastern Region. In Division 6, the
defending State Champion Oscar Smith Tigers take on the unbeaten Ocean Lakes
Dolphins at the Virginia Beach Sportsplex.
style=> Division 5 pits two undefeated teams against
one another as the reigning State Champion Phoebus Phantoms play the Lake
Taylor Titans at Harbor Park. Both are
title game re-matches from 2008.

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>Before we start to breakdown this week's Championship
matchups, let's review the Eastern Region Prediction Standings with State
Football Editor Rod Johnson, and Matthew Hatfield.

All three of the prognosticators went a perfect 4-0 last week.
style=> Hatfield takes a one-game lead into the
Eastern Region Championships against Johnson.
Can Rod tie things up or does Matt put him away?



the Scene:
the last two years are any indication, a classic is in store for fans in the
Eastern Region Division 6 Championship as the 2010 title match was decided by
two points and the 2011 bought saw a failed two-point conversion in the closing
moments of the fourth quarter in a one-point final margin.
style=> It's the top two seeds squaring off in the
reigning Division 6 State Champion Oscar Smith Tigers, seeking its third state
title since 2008 and fifth regional crown under Coach
normal'>Rich Morgan, opposite the Ocean Lakes Dolphins, who won the Beach
District title for the second time under Coach
normal'>Chris Scott and are trying to capture the school's first ever
regional title.

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>Oscar Smith won the only ever meeting between these two
back in the 2008 Eastern Region Championship by a count of 28-21, also played
at the Virginia Beach Sportsplex.
style=> For the Tigers, they are quite familiar with
Beach District teams in the title game as they are making ninth straight
appearance in the Eastern Region Championship game, facing a school from
Virginia Beach for the eighth time. In
fact, over the last 73 region games since 2007, Oscar Smith has won 72 of them
with the lone defeat coming in the 2010 regional title game to Bayside.
style=> Besides their meeting with the Tigers four
years ago, Ocean Lakes' only other trip to the region final was a 2002 loss to
Western Branch.

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>Ocean Lakes has won every game they've played except a
21-15 victory over Salem by at least two touchdowns.
style=> It wasn't until last week's rout of Western
Branch that they had trailed after one quarter of play, 13-7, before rattling off
34 unanswered points. Meanwhile, Oscar
Smith rallied from deficits each of the last three weeks against King's Fork,
Bayside and Salem to win, beating the Bulldogs in double-overtime.

Cast of Characters:
style=> Get a notepad to jot down all of the
next-level prospects in this game. The
Dolphins alone have five seniors who have already committed to play College
Football at the FCS or FBS level next fall.
Ocean Lakes' starting quarterback, Corwin
Cutler, suffered a torn ACL in the quarterfinals vs. Granby, ending a season
that was nothing short of brilliant to that point for the UVA commit.
style=> Junior Walter
'Churchie' Harold, the nephew of ex-Dolphins star
and current Cavs defensive end Eli Harold, came on and is blossoming with over
200 yards and four touchdown passes in their semifinal win over Western Branch
a week ago. Running the ball, the trio
of Brandon Simmons,
style='mso-bidi-font-weight:normal'>Jordan Bobo and
Mike Dunston collectively
have rushed for over 1500 yards and 31 touchdowns.

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>Delaware commit Andre
Dessenberg (70Rec. 1078Yds. 21TD's) is enjoying a
breakout year at receiver for the Dolphins as he checks in a touchdown
reception away from tying the Beach record set by Damon McDaniel of
class=SpellE>Landstown in 2005, and 4TD's shy of the state record.
style=> In fact, in the past three weeks,
class=SpellE>Dessenberg has scored 10 total touchdowns, eight of them
receiving, with six scores against Kellam and four in
last week's semifinal triumph over Western Branch.
style=> They have other skilled players at the
receiver position, too, with sophomore standout
normal'> Lewis, Mike Alston,
style='mso-bidi-font-weight:normal'> Wolters and
style='mso-bidi-font-weight:normal'>Quincy Watts, giving them the luxury to
go with some three and four wide sets on a frequent basis.

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>On defense, it starts and ends with the guys up front for
Ocean Lakes when you talk about BCS-level defensive tackles
normal'> McGill (Maryland commit) and Derrick
Nnadi, and ends
normal'>Tony Baird (16 sacks) and
style='mso-bidi-font-weight:normal'> Walton.
style=> Together, McGill and Nnadi
have 113 assisted tackles and 15 sacks, clogging the middle and breaking
through to harass quarterbacks also.
From the linebacker spot, sophomore
normal'> Simmons and senior
normal'>Myke Knox have
contributed 87 and 68 tackles respectively.
In the secondary,
normal'>Treavonne Brandon hovers
around the ball with 14 pass breakups, three interceptions and a pair of
defensive scores.

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>Over the years, Oscar Smith has produced some
ultra-productive signal callers with Greg Boone, Dexter Merritt, VHSL-record
setter Phillip Sims (UVA) and most recently J.J. Williams (Hampton University).
style=> The latest guy to put up stellar statistics
is senior Dashawn
style='mso-bidi-font-weight:normal'> Blow, making the most of his first and
only year as a starter with 2173 yards and 32 touchdowns on 142 of 235 through
the air. He has been picked off nine
times, including 3INT's vs. Bayside in the quarterfinals.
style=> Blow goes into this matchup with some dependable
targets at his disposal in ODU commit Melvin
Vaughn (48Rec. 741Yds. 9TD's) and UVA commit
normal'>Zack Jones (27Rec. 614Yds. 8TD's), a couple of proven All-State
performers that are dangerous in the open field.

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>Vaughn got moved to running back when
style='mso-bidi-font-weight:normal'> McClease (100Car.
995Yds. 14TD's) was unable to play due to a shoulder injury and paid dividends
with three of his four touchdowns coming on the ground.
normal'> Monty Fenner,
Tristan Cahill,
normal'>Dior Dawson and
class=SpellE>Hatten have all made clutch catches at some point or
another during the season to go with those guys.
style=> McClease, who's
expected to play in this one, and Marcus
Smith give the Tigers a pair of ball carriers that have routinely gone over
100 yards rushing this year. Up front on
the offensive line, Oscar Smith is anchored by their two tackles in
style='mso-bidi-font-weight:normal'> Oliver, an All-Southeastern District
First Team selection, and five-star junior Andrew
Brown, a menace from the defensive line as well.

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>Where Oscar Smith is strongest defensively is up front
with the aforementioned Brown and Oliver along with d-ends
normal'>Darren Flowers and
normal'>Kanyia Anderson,
an ODU commit. Together, Anderson and
Flowers have combined for over 20 sacks, and last year Anderson set the school
single-season record in that category.
From the linebacker spot, the Tigers will count on Vaughn and Harris to
bottle up the Dolphins' run game. In the
defensive backfield, Jones will probably see quite a bit of time if needed, and
the Tigers have received stellar play from such underclassmen as
class=SpellE>Fenner and
normal'>Lakwon Chapel,
who had a pivotal pick six in the second half vs. Bayside.

Inside the Numbers:
What jumps out to me about the numbers is that while Oscar Smith ranks
near the top of the region in pretty much every statistical department, Ocean
Lakes is better in each offensive and defensive facet.
style=> Both teams are putting up over 40 points per
game with the Dolphins ranking second in the region at 45.3PPG.
style=> As the Dolphins have produced a plethora of
offensive standouts on the college ranks in Lafonte
class=SpellE>Thourogood (James Madison), Marcus Davis and Randall Dunn
(Virginia Tech), Justin Hunter (Tennessee) and others, it's their defense that's
been a huge difference this year.

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>Ocean Lakes went from allowing 62 points in a playoff
loss to Salem a year ago to giving up only 57 points through ten regular season
games in 2012. That is astonishing
improvement if you ask me (or anyone for
that matter), and so far they rank #1 in the region in scoring defense.
style=> Oscar Smith's allowing 12.9PPG, but some of
their stats are a little skewed negatively rather than positively because they
played a Top 50 team in the country in Byrnes to open the season.
style=> Following that game, they gave up only 4.8PPG
over the next eight, but got hit hard by King's Fork for 35 and Salem for 28
over the past three weeks.



Ocean Lakes Keys to Victory:

- - Time of Possession:
some Ocean Lakes teams of the past, this version of the Dolphins is built to
beat Oscar Smith with a ball-control style, but not totally like the way
Western Branch operates because this passing game is much more of a threat than
the one the Tigers saw versus the Bruins.
Dunston has scored 12 touchdowns, proving to
be punishing in goal-line situations behind a stellar o-line with two
All-Region candidates in tackle Alex
Skidmore (Duke commit) and guard
style='mso-bidi-font-weight:normal'>Connor Kearney.
style=> In their 'Bull Package,' and short-line
situations as well as the red zone, he's truly a factor between the
tackles. Simmons eclipsed over 1000
yards on the season a week ago and he's checking in at almost 11 yards per
attempt, so as long as they feed him the rock, good things will happen.
style=> That opens up play-action, too.

- - Convert Third Downs:
The longer Oscar Smith's offense is on the sideline watching helplessly,
the better the odds are of knocking off the Tigers because that increases their
frustration level. In order for that
hope by the Dolphins to become a reality, converting third downs to extend
drives, whether it's by air or ground, is immensely critical.
style=> Look for Lewis, look for Dessenberg,
but if it means running the ball, do that as well.
style=> They have to identify where defensively Oscar
Smith is most vulnerable, exploit that and do so until the Tigers make an
adjustment to force the Dolphins to go to something else.
style=> Third down conversion rate could very well
tell the story of the game.

- - Force Blow Into Mistakes:
style=> Some teams, like Byrnes, Salem and Bayside,
have had success forcing Blow into turnovers.
But not every team Oscar Smith plays can do it and then capitalize.
style=> A matter of fact, two of those teams listed
above lost. Rattle him from the start
and have the Tigers playing from behind because when they are playing from in
front, they seldom ever get caught. Do
this and you don't allow Vaughn, Jones or anyone on the Smith roster to have a
superstar performance and put the team on his back a la Tyrod
Taylor for Hampton, Demetrious Nicholson with Bayside or others when they won
Championships at the regional or state level (
normal'>reason I didn't reference Hampton's Ronald Curry or Landstown's
Percy Harvin is those two are in a class by

Oscar Smith Keys to Victory:

- - Be Stout Against the Run:
line-height:115%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif"'>Few teams in the region
have two running backs that consistently move the chains for them.
style=> Ocean Lakes doesn't; they have THREE in
class=SpellE>Bobo, Simmons and Dunston.
style=> All offer a little something different, and
the Tigers have to be able to stop this dimension or at least slow it down some
to advance. When Oscar Smith has lost,
it usually has been to teams that can play power football, running up the
gut. To go with Vaughn (10 tackles vs.
Salem last week) and Harris, two reliable tacklers, they're going to need somebody
at the linebacker position to play their best game of the year, whether that's
style='mso-bidi-font-weight:normal'>Marquise Cooke,
normal'> Tanner or someone else. The
Dolphins pose issues for opponents when they are methodical, and have excelled
all year and using the run to set up the pass or pass to set up the run,
diversifying their attack to the point where they are comfortable and extremely
effective doing either.

- - Find Creative Ways to get Vaughn & Jones the Ball:
line-height:115%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif"'>This is something Morgan
did a week ago with Vaughn and it worked, enough so to get them out of a
semifinal battle against Salem victorious.
Ocean Lakes knows it'll be coming again and wherever Vaughn is, be
certain that defense will highlight him and be prepared for the ball to go his
way. Oscar Smith has to keep him
involved and a significant factor as always, but they also need to get Jones to
have a star performance a la what he showed in last year's State Semis win over
Battlefield. If he raises his level of
play, then Oscar Smith's offense becomes all the more difficult to defend, and
Morgan can design several different ways to get them ball, whether it's on
bombs, screens, crossing patterns, runs, direct snaps or reverses and jet
sweeps. In a game where
class=SpellE>Dessenberg and Lewis are going to get a lot of attention,
these two are the top weapons and playmakers for the Tigers.

- -Hold Your Own in the Trenches:
of the main reasons Ocean Lakes has been a force this year and undefeated to
this point is they have arguably as dominant a defensive tackle tandem as there
is in Virginia with Nnadi and McGill, four-star and
three-star prospects respectively. The
Tigers need its offensive line of Oliver, Brown,
normal'> Bigby,
normal'> Shelton and
normal'>Troye Harris to
contain a Dolphins pass rush that has amassed 38 sacks amongst their front four
on the d-line. Much like the above Key
with Jones and Vaughn, the Tigers need their stud in the middle, Brown, to step
up and give a monster effort to cancel out what those two pocket pushers on the
interior for the Dolphins do.

Final Thoughts:
Oscar Smith's big-game experience and pedigree in these settings is a benefit
in this spot. The defending Champs are
battle-tested and resilient.
style=> However, the Tigers are facing perhaps
the best defense they've seen all year, at least since the opener vs. Byrnes
(SC), and they present some problems even the best of offenses.
style=> Don't get them blocked, particularly
class=SpellE>Nnadi and McGill, and it'll be a long night for Blow and
the Smith offense, which has had some lulls here lately by not scoring until
the final play of the first half in the quarterfinal win over Bayside, and
going scoreless in the first and third quarters vs. Salem.

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>Clearly, this is Ocean Lakes' best and most talented
team yet. An argument can be made Ocean
Lakes has better overall depth and firepower than Oscar Smith.
style=> It's a dynamic Dolphins bunch that has
morphed into a team this year capable of beating opponents many different ways,
which often times is the evolution of a good program developing into a
Championship squad. But the one
lingering question with Ocean Lakes is how will they react in a close
game? They haven't trailed in the second
half all year, so battling adversity against an Oscar Smith team that has
responded to every challenge will be very interesting.

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>We have two players that were relatively unheralded
going into the season at the quarterback position, and the one that makes the
fewest mistakes likely gives his team the upper hand.
style=> While the Dolphins have numerous advantages
on paper, it's hard for me to bet against Oscar Smith this time of the year as
they continue to find ways to win, and the intangibles swing another tight
game, something the Tigers are used to in the past month, in the favor of the
gang from Chesapeake on the road.

Matt Says: Oscar Smith 21-20
Rod Says: Ocean Lakes 34-33
VHSL-Reference Says: Oscar Smith 23-17



115%;font-family:"Times New Roman","serif";text-decoration:none;text-underline:
none'>Matthew Hatfield
style='font-size:12.0pt;line-height:115%;font-family:"Times New Roman","serif"'>
has covered Eastern Region Football & Basketball since 2004 for
style='font-size:12.0pt;line-height:115%;font-family:"Times New Roman","serif";
115%;font-family:"Times New Roman","serif"'>, part of the
Network. Check out
text-decoration:none;text-underline:none'>Hatfield's Twitter page
115%;font-family:"Times New Roman","serif"'> for more sports related updates,
and you can also read his work in the
style='font-size:12.0pt;line-height:115%;font-family:"Times New Roman","serif";
text-decoration:none;text-underline:none'>Suffolk News Herald
115%;font-family:"Times New Roman","serif"'>.
To contact Matthew, please e-mail
style='font-size:12.0pt;line-height:115%;font-family:"Times New Roman","serif";
115%;font-family:"Times New Roman","serif"'>, and don't forget to listen to him
Saturdays from 10AM to Noon on
115%;font-family:"Times New Roman","serif";text-decoration:none;text-underline:
none'>ESPN Radio 94.1
style='font-size:12.0pt;line-height:115%;font-family:"Times New Roman","serif"'>
plus watch him on the
115%;font-family:"Times New Roman","serif";text-decoration:none;text-underline:
none'>Cox 11 Sports Report
style='font-size:12.0pt;line-height:115%;font-family:"Times New Roman","serif"'>.
115%;font-family:"Times New Roman","serif"'>

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