Boys Varsity Football
|South Lakes High School||7|
By Chris Colston
CHANTILLY, Va.—This time of year, football fans can always count on at least three things: Thanksgiving leftovers, a Virginia Tech victory over Virginia, and South Lakes facing Westfield in the playoffs.
Unfortunately for the Seahawks, the Bulldogs won once again.
Westfield’s 27-7 victory on November 25 marked the third consecutive year the Bulldogs eliminated South Lakes in the postseason. The last two years, Westfield went on to win the state title.
And just like last season, the Bulldogs used their superior size and strength to take advantage of the smaller Seahawks. Twice, quarterback Noah Kim found 6-4, 175-pound junior wide receiver Bizett Woodley in the end zone. Woodley had a four-to-five-inch height advantage over defender Diego White, who was stride-for-stride with him both times.
South Lakes knew it would have to play mistake-free to win. Instead, poor coverage on a 60-yard punt return set up Westfield’s first touchdown; a partially blocked punt set up the second score, when a Seahawks blocker whiffed on his assignment; and a Seahawks fumble set up the third score. The fourth touchdown was set up when it appeared they had Bulldogs running back Eugene Asante wrapped up for a loss, but he somehow got free and rumbled 74 yards to the five-yard line. Asante finished with 19 carries for 136 yards and a touchdown.
“We just made too many mistakes,” Coach Trey Taylor said. “We can’t win a game like that making that many mistakes.”
The Seahawks went three-and-out on their first four drives, but closed to within 14-7 after they sniffed out a fake punt and took possession at the Westfield 31. Senior quarterback Devin Miles then hit sophomore Joseph Dagbe for a 17-yard touchdown. Dagbe then recovered a Bulldog fumble at the Westfield 38, but the offense could do nothing with it, and the score remained 14-7 at the half.
South Lakes (11-2) took the second-half kickoff, but senior Spencer Alston had the ball knocked loose and the Bulldogs recovered at the Seahawks 34, setting up Westfield’s third touchdown.
The Bulldogs (13-0) had 20 players who weigh at least 203 pounds, and they came to hit. At the end of the game, gallant senior linebacker Chris Logan was so bruised he could barely pick himself off the turf.
This was the year South Lakes thought it could finally knock off the Bulldogs, but things started to go wrong as early as Wednesday. Alston injured his knee in what was supposed to be a non-contact drill. Alston was able to play Saturday, but he was clearly not at his best—and then he reinjured the leg in the third quarter.
The Seahawks entered the game as the underdog. Westfield, the No. 1 seed in the bracket entered the game ranked No. 5 in the Washington Post Top 20, while South Lakes was No. 7. VHSL-Reference.com ranked Westfield No. 2 in Virginia across all class levels, South Lakes No. 38 (No. 13 among all Class 6 teams). MaxPreps ranked Westfield No. 14, South Lakes No. 23 across all class levels, and 4th and 7th, respectively among Class 6 teams.
But the loss couldn’t mar a great season—and a fantastic three-year run for the seniors, who went a combined 32-7 the last three seasons and made it to the state semifinals last year. No doubt about it, Miles, Alston, Logan, running back Albert Mensah, receivers Noah Seneca, Eddie Mohler, Nabeel Syed, and Kazim Khan, linemen Spencer Coppage, Jacob McCarty, Kevin Colston, Eric Walter, Michael Akpalou, defensive backs EJ Javier, and kickers Kahlil Dover, Connor Madden, and Evan Matthes will be missed.
“To be in the Region Finals two years in a row, I don’t think that’s ever been done before,” Coach Taylor said. “These seniors have done a tremendous job.”