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Prep Football: North gets a taste of postseason
PLAYOFF-LIKE GAME GOES NORTH STAFFORD’S WAY WHEN SLYE MAKES OVERTIME INTERCEPTION
BY NATHAN WARTERS
HAYMARKET—The high school football playoffs are still two weeks away, but North Stafford and Battlefield provided a heck of a preview Friday night.
The Wolverines outlasted the host Bobcats in overtime, 21–14, in a non-district game that had all the tension and excitement of the postseason.
“We wanted to approach this like a playoff game, and that’s what we did,” North Stafford head coach Joe Mangano said.
North Stafford (8–1) scored the winning touchdown on a seven-yard run by tailback Anthony Shegog, and then the Wolverines stopped the Bobcats (6–3) on their only overtime possession when linebacker Joey Slye picked off Ryan Swingle’s pass near the goal line.
Slye returned the ball to about the 20-yard line and then slid on both knees at the urging of North Stafford’s coaching staff. Then Slye popped up and was mobbed by his teammates.
“I wanted to run it back, but everybody was telling me to get down,” Slye said with a laugh.
The celebration continued during Mangano’s postgame pep talk. He was doused with a bucket of water and then one of the assistants came over and informed the team that Massaponax beat Colonial Forge, opening up an opportunity for North Stafford to claim a share of the Commonwealth District title with a win against Orange next week.
“That would feel good, but since we couldn’t beat [Colonial Forge], I feel it’s not complete,” Shegog said.
The Wolverines’ defense forced three second-half turnovers—all three in the shadow of the end zone—to thwart Battlefield’s efforts. Shegog had a hand in two of the takeaways. With Bobcats receiver Brandon Whaley running toward the end zone on a long reception in the third quarter, Shegog ran him down from behind and jarred the ball loose, and North Stafford defensive back Tyler Bailey recovered.
“Anthony has done that throughout his career. That’s kind of an Anthony Shegog play. That’s what he does,” Mangano said.
And near the end of the regulation, Shegog came up with another touchdown-saving play when he tipped a Swingle pass into the air inside the 10-yard line. Wolverines defensive back Davonte Purvis plucked the ball out of the air to shut the door on yet another Bobcats scoring opportunity.
“That’s just what our defense does. We create turnovers in big, big situations,” Slye said.
Shegog and Slye were the stars of the second half and overtime. North Stafford quarterback Jalen Sarratt was the MVP of the first two quarters. He led two time-consuming touchdown drives that severely limited Battlefield’s offensive opportunities.
The Wolverines opened the game with an 18-play drive that took up 7:27 and ended with a spinning 2-yard touchdown run by Kwesie Dadzie. North Stafford came back near the end of the second quarter with a 14-play drive that it capped with a 21-yard touchdown pass from Sarratt to wideout Brandon Ravenel.
Sarratt finished with 206 passing yards and a touchdown and orchestrated the offense in a turnover-free outing. Ravenel caught 10 passes for 123 yards and a score.
North Stafford 7 7 0 0 7 — 21
Battlefield 0 7 7 0 0 — 14
NS-K. Dadzi 3-yard run (J. Slye kick)
Ba-N. Newman 9-yard pass from R. Swingle (C. Feehan kick)
NS-B. Ravenel 21-yard pass from J. Sarratt (J. Slye kick)
Ba-A. Thibodeaux 2-yard run (C. Feehan kick)
NS-A. Shegog 7-yard run (J. Slye kick)
First downs17 15
Rushing yardage36-144 29-81
Passing yardage206 270
Rushing: Battlefield—Austin Thibodeaux 11-57, TD; Joe Walker 12-19; Cameron Skaff 2-9; Corey Parker 1-7; Ryan Swingle 3-(-11). North Stafford—Anthony Shegog 12-61, TD; Cedrick Watkins 11-48; Jalen Sarratt 7-24; Kwesi Dadzi 5-12, TD; Team 1-(-1).
Passing: Battlefield—Ryan Swingle 15-23-2 270, TD. North Stafford—Jalen Sarratt 17-25-0 206, TD.
Receiving: Battlefield—Brandon Whaley 4-98; Nick Newman 5-97, TD; Corey Parker 5-73; Austin Thibodeaux 1-3. North Stafford—Brandon Ravenel 10-123, TD; Kwesi Dadzi 2-29; Raun King 2-28; Anthony Shegog 2-15; Cedrick Watkins 1-11.
Nathan Warters: 540/374-5442