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Prep Football: State Semifinal Capsules
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TODAY’S STATE SEMIFINALS
—GROUP AAA, DIVISION 5—
LAKE TAYLOR (13–0) at NORTH STAFFORD (11–1), 2
Last meeting: First-ever meeting between the two schools.
How they got here: Both won in lopsided region championship games. Eastern Region champion Lake Taylor routed Phoebus, 54–0. Northwest Region champion North Stafford beat Mountain View, 49–12. It’s Lake Taylor’s first region championship team since 1982.
Today’s matchup: It’s the second straight state semifinal for North Stafford, and for the second straight year, the Wolverines will face a highly regarded Eastern Region champion.
The unbeaten Titans have played just three games decided by 23 points or less: a 21–0 win against G.W.–Danville on Sept. 21, a 27–25 win against Granby on Oct. 19, and a 63–40 shootout win against Churchland on Oct. 30. They’ve scored 48 or more points eight times.
Even more impressive has been Lake Taylor’s defense. The Titans have allowed just 113 total points—40 of those in the Churchland game—an average of 8.7 points allowed per game. They’ve shut out the opposition six times, and have given up just seven total points in three playoff wins.
Senior defensive end Jamel Spellman is a four-year starter for Lake Taylor and the Eastern District co-defensive player of the year.
Offensively the Titans run the veer, and have done so with stunning success. Running backs Daquan Davis and Brandon Moore have piled up more than 3,000 combined rushing yards this season. Quarterback Delmon Williams has also been effective, with 1,591 passing yards and 32 touchdowns against just two interceptions.
The Wolverines continue to get by with a balanced offensive attack and good defense. Kwesi Dadzie (999 yards, 10 TDs), Anthony Shegog (692 yards, 7 TDs) and Cedrick Watkins (434 yards, 5 TDs) each have at least 60 carries.
And sophomore quarterback Jalen Sarratt—who took over the starting position midway through the year—has completed 58 of 86 passes without an interception.
—GROUP 11, DIVISION 4—
COURTLAND (9–4) at BRIAR WOODS (13–0), 1:30
Last meeting: Briar Woods beat Courtland 52–8 in the 2010 Division 4 state semifinals, the only other meeting between the two schools.
How they got here: Briar Woods blanked Loudoun County, 31–0, in the Region II final. Courtland survived a scary second half to edge Smithfield, 18–15, on Seth Yurgel’s 37-yard field goal.
Today’s matchup: On paper, Briar Woods seems to be a prohibitive favorite. The Falcons are the two-time defending Division 4 state champions. They’ve allowed just 83 total points this year, have scored 530 points (40.8 per game) and shut out four of their last six opponents.
Junior quarterback Trace McSorley is 40–3 as a starter at Briar Woods. He’s thrown for a career-best 2,336 yards and 31 TDs this season with just five interceptions. Senior tight end Cam Serigne—a Wake Forest recruit—has five touchdowns in the last four games. Briar Woods has not been held below 30 points by a Group AA team this season.
One positive for the Cougars: South Carolina recruit Matt Rolin, the Falcons’ best defender, injured his knee in the first round of the playoffs and won’t return.
The formula for Courtland must remain the same as it has throughout the playoffs. They’ll need at least one of three running backs (Brandon Mason, Anton Jenkins or Darien Grant) to get going, or for quarterback Eric Washington to turn in a big game. Then the Cougars will need a huge effort from their defense.
The Courtland stoppers came up big against Smithfield; they’ll need a similar effort today to break a string of three straight state semifinal losses (1991, 2000, 2010).
Getting there: Take I–95 north to Exit 152B and follow Route 234 west for 25 miles past Manassas. Just past Sudley Springs, turn right onto Route 659 (Gum Spring Road) and it follow for seven miles. Turn left onto Evergreen Mills Road, then right onto Belmont Ridge Road and follow it three miles to the school. Travel time: 90 minutes.
—GROUPS AA, DIVISION 3—
KETTLE RUN (11–2) at JAMES MONROE (11–1), 1:30
Last meeting: James Monroe’s defense made several key stops and the Jackets beat the Cougars, 14–7, in last year’s Division 3 state semifinals, the only other meeting between the two schools.
How they got here: James Monroe scored 21 third-quarter points in a 36–0 win against Park View–South Hill in the Region I final. Kettle Run built a 17–0 halftime lead and held off Monticello for a 24–21 win in the Region II championship game.
Common opponents in 2012: Kettle Run beat Eastern View 27–0 and the Jackets topped the Cyclones, 24–9.
Today’s matchup: In terms of points scored and points allowed, this is a very close matchup.
Kettle run has scored 399 points (30.7 per game) and allowed 134 (10.3 per game) with four shutouts. James Monroe has scored 396 points (33.0 per game) and given up 115 (9.6 per contest) with three shutouts.
The Cougars count on their running game, powered by Deandre Jackson and senior Joshua Tapscott. Tapscott carried 19 times for 130 yards in last year’s state semifinal. Both have topped 1,000 yards this year—1,166 yards and 14 TDs for Jackson, 1,124 yards and 13 TDs for Tapscott.
Quarterback Carlos Vegerano is just 46-of-103 passing for 897 yards with seven TDs and nine interceptions. David Eldgridge is the top pass-catching threat.
The bruised and battered Jackets continue to get effective play from sophomore QB Jay Scroggins, who has 13 touchdowns against just two interceptions.
The big-play defense, though, is the real key for JM. They scored two touchdowns against Park View—a 49-yard interception return by Sean Bates and a 41-yard fumble recovery by standout linebacker Tony Scott.
—GROUP A, DIVISION 2—
JOHN BATTLE (12–1) at ESSEX (13–0), 1
Today’s matchup: Battle is the No. 4 seed from the Western Section; Essex is the Eastern Section No. 1.
Battle beat Fort Chiswell last weekend on an improbable play: Battle lined up to kick a game-tying extra point in the final minute, but the snap was bad and the kicker ended up throwing the game-winning two-point conversion pass for a 15–14 victory.
Essex beat Central–Woodstock, 48–28. Essex has steamrolled its rivals this year, scoring 47.5 points per game. QB Domenik Broaddus needs one more touchdown pass to tie the VHSL state record (48, regardless of classification).