Boys Varsity Football
Game Summaries & Headlines.
- Game Date
- Dec 3, 2016
- SEAHAWKS: 12
CHANTILLY, VA.—Maybe it was because Westfield, the defending state champion, had been in this kind of pressure situation before and didn’t let it affect them. Or maybe it was because the Bulldogs were just so much bigger. Or maybe it was because their coach, 2015 Coach of the Year Kyle Simmons, was able to exploit South Lakes’ prime weakness, its defensive secondary. Or maybe it was all three that contributed to Westfield’s unexpectedly lopsided 42-12 6A North Region Final/state semifinal win.
It certainly wasn’t for a lack of heart by the Seahawks. In a magical 12-2 season under third-year Coach Trey Taylor, they proved nobody in the state had more.
“We didn’t play well, but we didn’t lay down,” said Coach Taylor, who led W.T. Woodson to the state semifinals in 2004 and Region Finals in 2009. “We still have a lot of young players, and I think the importance of the game got to us a little bit. I don’t think we played like I know we could. I think we got caught up in what it was, kind of like last year’s Madison game. Hopefully we can take the experience of playing in games like this and move forward.”
The Bulldogs will face Oscar Smith in the state championship game in Hampton next Saturday. It is a rematch of last year’s title game, won by Westfield 49-42 in triple overtime.
Because the Bulldog defense has been so stingy in the postseason—allowing just 8.8 points per game entering Saturday—Saturday’s game against South Lakes was effectively over with 7:22 left in the first half. An 80-yard scoring pass from big senior quarterback Rehman Johnson (6-2, 187) to big senior wide receiver Sean Eckert (6-3, 184) gave Westfield a 28-0 lead, simply too much for the Seahawks to overcome.
Johnson, who entered the game connecting on just 51.5% of his passes (100-194), completed 11 of 14 for a season-high 274 yards. If the South Lakes defensive backs played off Eckert and fellow senior Ivory Frimpong (6-3, 188), Johnson hit them with short, accurate strikes; if the Seahawks pressed, Eckert and Frimpong would go deep, using their long strides and superior size to get behind the defense. Eckert and Frimpong combined to catch nine passes for 260 yards and four touchdowns.
“Our game plan was to try to not let them beat us passing,” Coach Taylor said. “That was the danger, but we couldn’t stop them.”
On a sunny but brisk afternoon, the No. 3 seeded Bulldogs (12-2) took the opening kickoff and drove 80 yards in 10 plays to take a 7-0 lead. On the No. 4 seed Seahawks’ first possession, junior quarterback Devin Miles’ pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage and intercepted by senior linebacker Hunter Lydic. Two plays later, Frimpong scored on a 35-yard pass. The two quick scores would put South Lakes (12-2) in a hole from which it would not recover, although junior running back Albert Mensah did score twice in the fourth quarter after the game was decided.
The Seahawks entered the game ranked a season-high No. 5 in The Washington Post All-Met Top 20, while Westfield was No. 10. Those rankings include all schools in Northern Virginia, Maryland, and the Washington DC area, including private schools, across all levels. The loss marked the second year in a row Westfield (12-2) knocked South Lakes out of the playoffs.
With its home-field advantage, latest-and-greatest technology (TV monitors on the sidelines which assistant coaches used to point out Seahawks formations and tendencies), and superior size, Westfield played the role of big, bad juggernaut in this one. The Bulldogs dressed the maximum 85 players for the game, while the Seahawks dressed 52; the Bulldogs had 21 players who stood 6-1 or taller, while the Seahawks had 11 (and two of those were kickers); the Bulldogs had 25 players who weighed at least 200 pounds, while the Seahawks had 12. In the pressbox, a radio team broadcasting the game referred to the Bulldogs as “we.” Taken together, it’s all evidence that Coach Simmons has created a “football culture” at Westfield that attracts the school’s best athletes to play football, something Coach Taylor is still working to create. But he’s getting there. The Seahawks last advanced to the state semifinals in 2002, when they were at the 5A level and lost to eventual champion Phoebus 55-0.
“A lot of it is demographics,” Coach Taylor said. “There’s nothing you can really do. You take what you have and make them as good as you can. This offseason, we’ll get them in the weight room and keep getting bigger, stronger and faster. That’s how we got to where we are. We just need to keep doing what we do.”