Boys Varsity Football
Game Summaries & Headlines.
- Game Date
- Sep 2, 2016
- SEAHAWKS: 49
MARSHALL HS: 8
RESTON, VA.—Behind the bullish running of junior Albert Mensah, the South Lakes High School football team showed it would once again be a force to be reckoned with in the VSHL 6A North Conference 6, walloping George Marshall 49-8.
Mensah gained 108 yards on just 11 carries and scored four touchdowns before resting for a large chunk of the second half. Junior quarterback Devin Miles completed 14 of 21 passes for 168 yards and two touchdowns and added 55 rushing yards, while senior lineman David Kroll played an outstanding game on both sides of the ball.
Nevertheless, it was a strong showing for the Seahawks (1-0), who came out of nowhere in 2015 to finish 9-3 in coach Trey Taylor’s second season in Reston. In last year’s state playoffs, his team led eventual 6A Virginia state champion Westfield in the fourth quarter of the 2015 6A North region quarterfinals before losing 24-13. This year, South Lakes returned seven starters on its spread-option offense, and six on defense.
Heading into this season, Hutchinson’s Virginia High School Football Reference website ranked the Seahawks No. 54 out of 307 VSHL teams (AAA, AA, and A), putting them in the top 17.6 percent in the state. But could they live up to the high expectations? After an impressive showing in their season opener, the answer might be “yes,” with Mensah’s powerful running leading the way.
“That’s the way he always is, in the weight room and in practice and in everything we do,” Coach Taylor said. “He’s just a hard-nosed kid and does the best he can every play and that’s why we love him. He’s fun to watch.”
South Lakes played the game without another big offensive weapon, all-purpose star junior Spencer Alston (538 rushing yards, 75 receiving yards, seven touchdowns in 2015). He went down with a knee injury in an August scrimmage against Oakton. “We’re just trying to get his knee right,” Coach Taylor said. “He’s a very important player for us.”
After the game, Alston said he hoped to be ready to play against Briar Woods. “I feel pretty good,” he said. “I’m looking forward to getting on the field.”
Granted, South Lakes (enrollment 2,300) was expected to easily handle Marshall (5A North, enrollment 1,635), which had a preseason ranking of No. 159. But the Seahawks once again look like a legitimate contender. The Washington Post tabbed South Lakes the preseason favorite to win the VHSL 6A North Conference 6, which includes James Madison (9-2 in 2015), Hayfield (6-5 in 2015), and Langley (3-7 in 2015). Other schools in the conference include Washington-Lee, Yorktown, McLean, and Fairfax.
Coach Taylor’s biggest challenge for 2016 was finding replacements at wide receiver and in the secondary, where South Lakes lost playmakers such as Eric Kirlew (449 rushing yards, 605 receiving yards, 11 touchdowns), Marvin Grunshie (326 receiving yards, six touchdowns, four interceptions), speedster Anas Fain (733 total yards, four touchdowns), and Kevin Damper (275 yards, one touchdown).
That challenge to replace them became even tougher when Taylor lost his top returning receiver, Henry Andrich, to a summer knee injury. Last year Andrich had 16 catches for 146 yards and two touchdowns.
But it looks like he might have found some quality replacements in juniors Chris Ezidinma, Dave Hagengimana, Eddie Mohler, and senior Andrew Funaki. “We had some issues with misalignments and offside, which is inexcusable. We should be past that,” Coach Taylor said. “But that might have been because of nerves, since they were all starting their first varsity games. They got to make some catches and score some points, so that was good.”
Ezidinma had five catches for 39 yards and a touchdown, while Mohler had three catches for 31 yards and a score. Hagengimana flashed outstanding speed, while Funaki showed good hands and also did a solid job returning punts.
Heading into the game, Miles wasn’t sure how his new targets were going to work out. Last year, with his four senior receivers, Miles passed for 2,079 passing yards and 23 touchdowns. He was pleasantly surprised Friday night. “We worked really hard in the offseason,” Miles said. “Tonight, we looked a lot better than I had anticipated. Our receivers did a great job of getting open.”
With its warmup game out of the way, the Seahawks now turn their attention to Briar Woods, which gave always-tough South County all it could handle before losing 27-23. Last year, the Falcons beat South Lakes 24-20 in Reston. To win at Briar Woods this year, Taylor said his defensive secondary must improve its open-field tackling. On offense, he wants to get better at doing the little things well.
“It’s going to be a detail-oriented week,” he said.