The Gridiron Blog brings you the scores, stats and stories from Fredericksburg-area high school football.
Region I, Division 4 Final: JM rolls to championship, state semifinal berth
For photos from Saturday’s three Region Championship games, click here.
BY JUSTIN RICE
YORK—It was billed as a showdown in the Region I, Division 3 final. It quickly turned into more James Monroe showing off.
The Yellow Jackets scored 31 second-quarter points—including an interception and a fumble return to the end zone—and blasted York, 45–7, yesterday at Bailey Field. James Monroe (12–0) will play at Region II champion Kettle Run next week in the state semifinals.
York quarterback Alex Johnston was the Region I offensive player of the year, an honor bestowed before this week’s region finals were played. But JM held the Falcons (11–1) to 61 passing yards and picked off Johnston five times, including four picks in the first half, when the Jackets rolled to a 38–0 lead.
“[Johnston] is good,” JM coach Rich Serbay said, “but there’s not a defense in the Bay Rivers that can play like that defense I have.”
James Monroe running back Ethan Preston took the voting for offensive player of the year seriously. The senior has rushed for 1,734 yards, including a game-high 126 yesterday, averaging nearly 10 yards per carry with 31 touchdowns, but the coaches picked Johnston.
“I was really upset about it,” Preston said. “Why would they vote when the region isn’t even over? They’ve never seen me before. How would they know if they’re good or bad?”
After yesterday’s steamrolling, a re-vote would likely go the other way.
Preston carried the ball only 14 times, but he wasn’t needed much because the James Monroe defense victimized Johnston so badly.
Johnston completed his first three passes, but three of his next four throws went to Yellow Jackets.
The first was to JM’s She’Mar Ellis, ending a York drive that had reached the Jackets’ 32, with James Monroe already leading 7–0. That turnover led to an 11-yard scoring run by Preston and a 14–0 lead early in the second quarter.
On York’s next possession, Julian Bumbrey had the first of his two picks, breaking three tackles on a 42-yard scoring return.
JM’s David Dit added a 32-yard field goal with two minutes, 31 seconds left in the half, and then Daniel Armstead swiped another Johnston pass and set up his own short scoring run four plays later.
York had just crossed the 50 on its ensuing drive, pushing for points to trim the already-huge JM lead.
But this time it was JM’s A’Darius Brown stealing a pass in midair and returning it 65 yards for an insurmountable 38–0 lead at the break.
Brown also returned Johnston’s second-half fumbled option pitch 78 yards for a third-quarter score.
The pressure the Jackets were able to put on Johnston was key.
“That’s the best pass defense,” said Bumbrey, who had his second and his team’s fifth interception in the third quarter. “Ryheem [Perrin] and Eric Nelson were getting pressure on them.”
JM took some of its best offensive players—including Preston and receiver Kasine Conway—and put them on the defensive line, hoping to force Johnston into bad decisions. Preston was an all-state defensive lineman last year, but hasn’t played much defense this season. He had a sack yesterday in his first defensive snap of the game.
“We were going to get someone in his face,” Serbay said. “We wanted to match our best athletes with their best, and I didn’t think they could match us. I’m not bragging, I’m just telling the truth.”
As far as the Jackets were concerned, the Region I offensive player of the year wears black and orange. Their defense made a pretty good argument yesterday on Preston’s behalf.
“We didn’t respect [that vote],” Bumbrey said. “We just had to bring it to him, and we showed it—we’re the best secondary in the state.”
James Monroe 7 31 7 0 — 45
York 0 0 0 7 — 7
York 0 0 0 7 — 7
JM-E. Preston 5-yard run (D. Dit kick)
JM-E. Preston 11-yard run (D. Dit kick)
JM-J. Bumbrey 42-yard interception (D. Dit kick)
JM-D. Dit 32-yard field goal
JM-D. Armstead 8-yard run (D. Dit kick)
JM-A. Brown 65-yard interception (D. Dit kick)
JM-A. Brown 78-yard fumble recovery (D. Dit kick)
Yo-A. Honey 2-yard pass from A. Johnston (A. Mead kick)
First downs14 19
Rushing yardage25-166 48-213
Passing yardage81 61
Rushing: York—Jake Norman 26-101; Anthony Honey 8-83; Lamont Silva 2-14; Alex Johnston 11-9; Elijah Said 1-6. James Monroe—Ethan Preston 14-126, 2TD; DeMontaz Brown 4-14; Daniel Armstead 2-12, TD; Robert Lawrence 1-10; A’darius Brown 3-8; Kasine Conway 1-(-4).
Passing: York—Alex Johnston 8-17-5 61, TD. James Monroe—DeMontaz Brown 8-13-0 81.
Receiving: York—Anthony Honey 4-33, TD; Tyvez Jones 1-12; Logan Bauder 1-10; Brad Myers 1-3; Jake Norman 1-0. James Monroe—A’darius Brown 3-35; Darryl Dyson 1-20; Robert Lawrence 2-16; Jaamir Bumbrey 1-14; Ethan Preston 1-(-4).
Justin Rice: 540/368-5045