Week by week, the South Lakes High football team continues to win games. Last Friday night, despite being pushed hard by an underdog Marshall Statesmen team throughout the first half, the Seahawks put together an outstanding second half of play and defeated the guests, 36-9, to improve their record to 4-0 in their first season under head coach Andy Hill.
“First, I've got to give Marshall a lot of credit,” said Hill, whose team trailed the Statesmen, 9-7, late in the first half. “They came out with the common game plan to beat us: run the ball, consume the clock, and keep our offense off of the field. They were the first team to score against our first [team] defense all year long, and they did it with a methodical drive the first time they touched the football. Our coaching staff expected Marshall to come out and play us tough, and that's exactly what they did. They adjusted to our adjustments and were prepared to keep coming after us all night long.”
Marshall sophomore quarterback Kelly Brooks-muse gave his team an early spark with a 48-yard touchdown run early in the game to put the Statesmen ahead, 7-0.
Later in the half, Marshall led 9-7 when the Seahawks came up with perhaps the biggest play of the night – a 47-yard touchdown pass play from quarterback Rashaan Jones to Sean Price with 25 seconds remaining in the second quarter. Following a two-point conversion play, South Lakes headed into the locker room ahead 15-9.
“The touchdown just before half was a huge play for us,” said Hill. “When we called it, we thought that Rashaan would take a deep shot to [skill position standout] Darius Smith. However, Rashaan went through his reads and threw a beautiful ball to Sean Price who cruised the final 20 yards into the end zone to put us ahead.
“I was proud of our kids for not hitting the panic button,” said Hill, of his team’s 9-7 deficit. “Until we scored with 25 seconds left in the second quarter, it looked as if we were going to go into halftime down 9-7.”
South Lakes pulled away in the second half with three touchdowns while the Seahawks’ defense kept Marshall off the board over those final two quarters.
Smith returned a punt 52 yards for the first touchdown of the second half late in the third quarter. Later, sophomore running back Raquan Terry broke free for a 47-yard scoring run to make the score 29-9.
“I thought our kids responded well in the second half with a diligent effort,” said Hill. “Our defense was persistent and had much more disciplined performance in the second half. Darius Smith gave us some breathing room with his punt return for a touchdown towards the end of the third quarter, and sophomore Raquan Terry had a nice run in the fourth quarter for a touchdown.”
Coach Hill was impressed with the way his team played against an unheralded Marshall team.
“It was a great next test for us, and Marshall is a good team that will win some games,” said Hill.
South Lakes will play at 4-0 McLean this Friday night. The Highlanders are coming off a 24-22 win over Madison.
“Now we have to step up our focus and concentration as we prepare to take on another undefeated squad this week,” said Hill. “If we start slow this week, we may find ourselves on the wrong end of the scoreboard.”
<b>TWO WEEKS AGO</b>, South Lakes won its annual Baron Cameron rival meeting versus cross-town opponent and host team Herndon, 43-0. It marked the first time in eight years that the Seahawks were able to beat the Hornets. South Lakes running back Ja’Juan Jones threw a 17-yard option pass to Darius Smith for the game’s first touchdown. Later in the first quarter, Jones scored on a five-yard touchdown run.
South Lakes scored a third touchdown in that first quarter on a 62 yard run by Sean Price, who carried the ball just two times for 132 yards on the night.
Smith, with his team ahead 21-0, scored on a 44-yard run in the second quarter. In the second half, South Lakes got touchdowns from Price (70-yard run) and Smith, who caught a 16-yard pass from quarterback Rashaan Jones on the final play of the third quarter.
Mikey Bissonnette, a back-up quarterback, had a good game, completing all three of his passes for 31 yards, including two point-after conversions. Other South Lakes highlights included a blocked punt by Price and a fumble recovery on a kickoff by Stepfon Sanford. Also, senior defensive lineman Deon King had two sacks, with teammate Bissonnette aiding on the first one.
Herndon, while not scoring, did accumulate 128 hard fought team rushing yards. The Hornets did get two sacks and also recovered two fumbles, one by senior lineman Rehan Ilyas.
During postgame ceremonies at midfield in which the South Lakes team was presented with the Baron Cameron Bowl trophy, Herndon coach Joe Sheaffer was gracious in talking to the South Lakes players who had beaten his team.
“You guys go on a do a great job in the Liberty District this year,” said Sheaffer, encouraging coach Hill’s Seahawks.
Coach Hill was also encouraging in words to the Herndon team.
“We always know when we come here we’re going to have a battle, a fight,” he said. “Some of you guys are younger this year. You’re going to surprise some people.”
Herndon (1-3), which fell to Robinson this past week, will play at Langley this Friday night.