South Lakes High School
|South Lakes High School||14|
By Chris Colston
RESTON, Va.—For a half, everything was going great for South Lakes against Centreville at Patricia A. Bergen Stadium. Fans filled the home stands, Gameday Magazine was in the pressbox live-streaming the game, The Washington Post’s Jacob Bogage was on the sideline covering the action, the 29 Diner was offering a tasty barbecue spread (fill your container of pulled pork, ribs, and wings for just $15!), and the Seahawks led the Wildcats 14-13.
Then the wacky stuff started happening.
With 10 minutes left in the third quarter, the Seahawks were at the Wildcats’ 42-yard line. Quarterback Devin Miles threw a hitch to running back Spencer Alston, who was hit by a Centreville player:
Officials—theoretically neutral—ruled “B,” and the Wildcats’ junior linebacker Nick Kuzemka returned the crazy carom all the way to the Seahawks’ 27-yard line. It was the first of three consecutive turnovers for South Lakes, and Centreville capitalized with scores (two touchdowns and a field goal) on all of them. And so what was once a close, competitive game turned into a 30-14 loss.
“You simply can’t beat good teams by turning the ball over three times,” Coach Trey Taylor said. “They were too good on defense for us to do things to hurt ourselves.”
After losing at South Lakes 22-20 in last year’s Virginia 6A North region quarterfinal, the Wildcats were super-pumped for the game. Give them credit for the turnovers; they hit hard, and alertly picked off their fortunate bounces. On the second turnover, Alston had broken through the middle of the defense when senior defensive back Keenan Anunay put his shoulder on the ball, popping it loose—directly into the hands of junior linebacker Lamar Horner. With 4:20 left in the third quarter, Centreville quarterback Presley Egbers threw a fade to the left corner of the end zone to Anunay, who was well-covered by Diego White. Watching the replay, the Gameday broadcast crew thought the ball rolled on the ground. Officials ruled touchdown to make it 27-14.
The third, game-sealing turnover came on the ensuing kickoff. Wildcats Dondre Edmonds and Griffin Greer lowered their helmets on Michael Riche—probably not the safest way to go about tackling—hitting him with enough force to knock the ball loose. Centreville recovered, and that was pretty much the game.
On defense, the Wildcats contained South Lakes’ Thunder & Lightning combo. Alston carried the ball just six times for 58 yards (an impressive 9.7 average) and caught three passes for 35 yards and a score, while fellow senior running back Albert Mensah carried 13 times for just 29 yards. The best player on the field for the Seahawks was senior punter Evan Matthes, who averaged 56.3 yards on four punts.
Although disappointed by the loss, the Seahawks ultimate goal of winning a state championship is still intact, even though it will cost them some points in playoff seeding if they’re fortunate to qualify. In the meantime, Coach Taylor will use the coming week to focus on fundamentals and evaluate his personnel. The Seahawks’ next game will be October 6, when they host Langley for Homecoming. Game time is 7 p.m.
“We might consider moving some players to different spots, or determine if we’re overlooking someone who should be playing,” he said. “The bye week will give us some time to assess it.”