Oscar Smith Overcomes 14-Point Deficit to Earn 3rd Straight Trip to State Final; Will Face Familiar Foe Westfield for 3rd Time


STAFFORD – This year was going to be different. This was the year that Colonial Forge was going to get over the hump, finally defeat Oscar Smith in the playoffs, and advance to the 6A State championship.

The Eagles had lost three times to the Tigers over the past four years, including last year’s 27-20 thriller that was decided by Shon Mitchell’s touchdown pass to Khalik Perry with 12 seconds remaining in the game. But this time, all of the pieces were in place for a different result. The Eagles had cruised through a 10-0 regular season, followed by a bye week to rest, and playoff victories over Riverbend and Manchester. VHSL-Reference had Forge ranked the best team in the state.

And this time, they would be playing the game in Stafford, unlike the other contests, which took place on the Tigers’ home turf in Chesapeake. Home crowd, and no three-hour bus ride to the game for Coach Bill Brown’s troops.

Oh yeah, and midway through the third quarter, two touchdown receptions on successive plays by receiver Zack Kindel gave Forge a commanding 17-3 lead. After a hard-fought first half that ended in a 3-3 draw, it appeared that a two-touchdown lead would be enough to move the Eagles to their next game – one which would require a two-hour bus ride, but would end at Armstrong Stadium on the campus of Hampton University, the site of the state championship and perhaps the final game of their miraculous ride.

With their season on the brink, Oscar Smith coach Scott Johnson made his boldest move of the day, replacing Dominique Brooks at quarterback with Cam’Ron Kelly. Brooks had not performed badly, completing seven of 12 passes for 104 yards. Although Oscar Smith had gained 216 yards in the first half, a pair of interceptions had clipped Tiger drives and Brooks was having a tough time finding an open man, despite having lots of time to throw, thanks to a stout Forge secondary, as well as a Tiger offensive line that also powered Smith’s 269 yards on the ground.

Enter Kelly. Activate comeback.

On the ensuing drive, the Tigers put together one of the longest drives in state playoff history, an 18-play, 80-yard assault, which was powered by 14 runs and only four passes, with three completions for a mere 20 yards. Basically, the Tigers turned to a triad of backs, Kelly, Keyan Watson and Khalid Wilson, and they alternated for 58 rushing yards, with the capper being Wilson’s two-yard plunge to put Smith back into the game at 17-10 as the fourth quarter got underway.

On the next drive, a 56-yard run by Wilson would have been a touchdown if all-6B Region defensive player of the year Josh Sarratt hadn’t caught him from behind. But it did set up Wilson for another score, this time from six yards, to inch the lead to 17-16.

The extra point was going to be crucial. But Azeez Attar drilled the conversion to knot the score at 17 with 5:33 left to play in regulation. Said Azzar, who had pushed a 32-yarder wide right and had a 27-yard attempt blocked earlier, “It was just another kick, and the offensive line did a great job to get us in position. They did their job and I did mine.”

The Eagles were primed to win the game in regulation, driving 45 yards with eight straight pass plays. After Ethan Garwood was sacked by Oscar Smith lineman Kyle Thomas for the second time of the afternoon, the Eagles were left with a 4th-and-13 at the Tiger 36.

While most teams would have been forced to go for the first down or punt, Forge had its own secret weapon on the sideline in kicker Jadon Redding. Redding, who converted a 52-yard field goal earlier this season, sent the 53-yard attempt tried and true, five yards past the goalpost, but just wide right.

Regulation would end with the game tied at 17.

While the Oscar Smith players clamored at the 50-yard line, Wilson walked 20 yards downfield by himself, where he squatted on his haunches and grabbed his facemask while bowing his head.

“I was thinking that I needed to trust my team,” said Wilson of his temporary meditation. “It’s my senior year, and I knew that we had to finish this. We had to go 48 minutes and we had to be all-in.” Wilson finished the day with 144 yards on 24 carries.

In the first overtime, the teams exchanged field goals. However, since Forge converted first, Azzar was forced to attempt a 24-yarder to keep the game tied. It would seem like a chip shot, but with the season on the line, and no margin for error, plus a crowd of 2,000 Colonial Forge fans yelling for a miss to end the game, even a chip shot became an uncertainty.

“It was a bit nerve-wracking,” admitted the senior kicker, who sent the ball through the uprights without a hitch.

Alternating the order of possessions, Smith got the ball again on the 10, with four downs to score. Two Wilson runs brought the ball to the one. From there, Kelly pushed behind his line into the end zone for a touchdown. Once again, Azzar was sent in for the crucial extra point and once again he delivered. 27-20, Smith lead, Forge ball.

Ethan Garwood’s first pass to D.J. Dennis fell incomplete, but Paten Rodier caught Garwood’s next pass for a five-yard gain. With third-and-goal from the 5, Garwood dropped back for what would be the final play of his high school career.

As Garwood shuffled backwards, it became obvious that no receiver was open. Opting to run for the end zone, he managed only one step forward before being drilled by Thomas and falling forward.

(Keshon) Artis had told us that we had to dig deep, said the 280-pound lineman, who now has 19.5 sacks on the season. I saw the ball going down with him and just knocked it out of his hand.” Jalen Moore fell on the loose ball, and the game was over.

Tiger coach Scott Johnson, making the state final in just his first year at the helm had nothing but praise for his team’s resiliency.

“We were down 17-3, but our kids never gave up. They wanted to play in the state game, but I told them that no one is going to give it to them, and you have to earn 48 more minutes. But that’s a very good team over there, and there’s a reason why teams like them, Westfield, and a few others are the same teams that make it year after year.”

Do you think that somewhere, Coach Dee is smiling?

Johnson took a moment to reflect on his predecessor, who passed just months after leading the Tigers to the 2016 state game in his only year at Oscar Smith. With a smile, he nodded in the affirmative. “Yeah, I think he is.”

Oscar Smith    (12-2) --   0, 3, 7. 7. 3, 7 - 27
Colonial Forge (12-1) – 3, 0, 14, 0, 3, 0 - 20

1st Quarter
CF – Jadon Redding FG 20

2nd Quarter
OS – Azeez Attar FG 35

3rd Quarter
CF – Zack Kindel 14 pass from Ethan Garwood (Redding kick)
CF – Z. Kindel 32 pass from Garwood (Redding kick)
OS – Khalid Wilson 2 run (Attar kick)

4th Quarter
OS – K. Wilson 6 run (Attar kick)

1st Overtime
CF – Redding FG 33
OS – Attar FG 24

2nd Overtime
OS – Cam’Ron Kelly 1 run (Attar kick)

                       OS    CF
First downs;      22, 7
Rushes-yards;  59-269, 21- (-31)
Passing yards;   151, 193
Comp-att-int;   13-21-2, 18-29-0
Penalties-yards; 5-36, 3-22
Punts-avg;    2-28, 4-34   
Fumbles-lost;   0-0, 1-1

Rushing: Oscar Smith -  K. Wilson 24-144, C. Kelly 17-91, K. Watson 13-47. Colonial Forge – L. Kauthen 5-12.
Passing: Oscar Smith – Dominique Brooks 7-12, 104 yds. 2 INT, C. Kelly 6-9, 47 yds.  Colonial Forge – Garwood 18-29, 193 yds. 2 TD.
Receiving: Oscar Smith -  Jarius Howard 4-52, Kenny Etheridge 3-36. Colonial Forge – Z. Kindel 6-83, 2 TD, Sarratt 4-22.


Region Final Weekend - Tusky, Westfield, Woodbridge, Stafford, Sherando Among Winners

Thanksgiving weekend is synonymous with region championship weekend, and there were some humdingers in Northern Virginia this weekend as the eight teams in each classification whittled down to four semifinalists for each of the six classifications.

RecruitNoVA.com was on hand with coverage of four of the region finals – Tuscarora’s nailbiter 28-27 win over Stone Bridge, Colonial Forge’s 48-27 romp over Manchester, Stafford’s offensive explosion in a 59-26 win over favored Brooke Point, and Woodbridge’s 28-14 defeat of Prince William’s “hot” team, Hylton.

There were several other region finals over the weekend, and here are the recaps.

6D Region – Westfield 27, South Lakes 7

Westfield relied on a stout defense, which held the vaunted Seahawks rushing attack to just 79 yards, and Spencer Alston to 13 yards on 11 carries, as they stunned a South Lakes team that had more than a puncher’s chance of upending the Bulldogs.

Noah Kim threw for 114 yards and two touchdowns. The first, a 30-yarder to Bizzet Woodley, gave Westfield an early 7-0 lead. After South Lakes evened the score on a razzle-dazzle pass from Joseph Dagbe to Seahawk quarterback Devin Miles, it was all Bulldogs. Kim scored on a ten-yard reception from Dominique Cheeks to complete the first half scoring, and then found Woodley for a second scoring pass, from 11 yards.

Eugene Asante led the Dogs with 136 yards on 19 carries., while Woodley finished with four receptions for 60.

A Kim five-yard keeper finished the scoring for Westfield (13-0), who remains undefeated and will host Woodbridge on Saturday.

4C Region – Sherando 33, Liberty-Bealeton 21

The Eagles erased a 20-point deficit to crawl within six points at 27-21 with 6:26 left to play. But the Warriors relied on a ball-control offense and won the game with an 11-play, 74-yard drive that ate five minutes off the clock to seal the win for Sherando (11-2), who will face defending state 4A champion Salem next week in southwest Virginia.

Warrior quarterback Hunter Entsminger delivered the final blow with a six-yard run for the game-winning score. Entsminger rushed 16 times for 85 yards and also completed 13 of 17 passes for 245 yards and three touchdowns. T.J. Washington added 103 yards rushing with a touchdown.

3B Region – James Monroe 51, Culpeper 27

The Yellow Jackets (7-6) fell behind Culpeper 14-7 early in the second quarter, but roared back to decimate the Blue Devils 51-27 and earn a state semifinal matchup with Hopewell.

A 20-0 third-quarter run extended Monroe’s lead from 24-20 to 44-20 and put the game away. A.J. Johnson (13 carries, 221 yards) scored two of his four rushing TD’s in the third, while Aidan Ryan intercepted a pass for a 35-yard pick-six.

Zakk Davis completed seven of eight passes for 110 yards and a touchdown pass to Brandon Woodbridge (4-53). The Yellow Jackets gained 482 yards, with 372 coming on the ground.

State Semi-Finals for this weekend

3 A/B: James Monroe (7-6) @ Hopewell (9-4), Sat. 12/2, 1:30 PM
4 C/D: Sherando (11-2) @ Salem (11-2), Sat. 12/2, 2:00 PM
5 C/D: Stafford (10-3) @ Tuscarora (11-2), Sat. 12/2, 4:00 PM
6 A/B: Oscar Smith (11-2) @ Colonial Forge (12-0), Sat. 12/2, 2:30 PM
6 C/D: Woodbridge (12-1) @ Westfield (13-0), Sat. 12/2, 2:00 PM


Virginia High School Football - Week 2: Flint Hill Wins VISAA; Slade Scores 5 TD's in Hylton Upset Over Freedom

From InsideNoVA.com
Week 2 of the second season saw the crowning of its first state champion as Flint Hill finished its perfect season at 11-0 by ousting the two-time defending VISAA Division I champion Collegiate 33-21.

Two other unbeaten teams were not as lucky as the ranks of the perfect dwindled to four. Eastern View dropped a tough 40-37 decision to Dinwiddie to finish its 2017 campaign at 11-1, while Freedom was eliminated by Hylton 45-28. The Freedom loss was somewhat surprising, but was made possible by a performance of total redemption by Bulldog back Ricky Slade. Slade, who carried seven times for minus four yards in the regular season meeting, steamrolled through the Eagle defense for 324 yards and four touchdowns on Friday.

With the losses by the Cyclones and Eagles, the other remaining unbeatens in Northern Virginia are Westfield (12-0), Stone Bridge (12-0), and Colonial Forge (11-0). Westfield and Colonial Forge may be on a collison course to meet, but it won’t happen next week.

We lead off with the state’s first championship, won by the Huskies in Vienna.

VISAA Div. I Finals - Flint Hill 33, Collegiate 21

The “Dirty Thirty” of Flint Hill completed their dream season with a bang, and a trophy celebration, as the Huskies dispatched Collegiate of Richmond 33-21 for the program’s first state title and undefeated season ever.

Jordan Houston ran for 158 yards and three touchdowns, including a 44 and 39-yarder to conclude a record-setting season that saw the junior rush for 1,971 yards with 25 touchdowns. As a bonus, Houston also caught 10 passes for 342 yards and four touchdowns. Toss in 118 kickoff return yards, and he finished the 11-game season with 2,431 yards, an average of 221 per game.

Miles Thompson connected on a 75-yard scoring play to Trey Rucker in the second half, and finished with seven of 11 completions for 161 yards. For the season, Thompson threw for 1,792 yards and 25 TD’s while also rushing for 495 yards with seven scores. The transfer from Woodberry Forest ran for a 22-yard score against Collegiate, who won the state title in 2015 and 2016. Justice Ellison added four catches for 89 yards and ended the season as the Huskies leading receiver with 22, two ahead of Jamarian Hawkins.

Sophomore linebacker Jaylin Hertz led the defense with 18 tackles, while fellow sophomore linebacker Elijah Wasson added 15. Hertz landed a sack, while Rucker had the team’s lone interception, which helped the Huskies build a 27-7 lead after the third quarter.

Coach Tom Verbanic joined an elite club as he has now coached both public and private school teams to state championships, having won AAA titles with Westfield in 2003 and 2007.

6D Playoffs – South Lakes 35, Madison 0

Devin Miles passed for 240 yards and two touchdowns, both to Xavier May, while Albert Mensah ran for 100 yards and a pair of scores, as the Seahawks rambled to a 35-0 shutout of Madison.

With the win, the Seahawks (11-1) will travel to Westfield next weekend to take on the two-time defending 6A state champions.

Spencer Alston led the Hawks with seven receptions for 142 yards, but it was Miles who scored the fifth touchdown, on a 1-yard run as South Lakes ran up their lead in three quarters and then coasted through the fourth quarter behind the power of a running clock.

6C Playoffs – Hylton 45, Freedom 28

Ricky Slade avenged his worst performance of the year against the same Eagle defense that held him to minus four yards on seven carries in their regular season meeting.

This time, the teams slugged it out to a 14-14 draw at the intermission. But Slade ran for three of his four touchdowns in the second half, including runs of 95 and 80 yards as the Bulldogs avenged an earlier 48-42 defeat to the same Freedom team. For the game, the Penn State commit finished with 326 yards on 22 carries.

Hylton will travel to Woodbridge (11-1) on Saturday to play the Vikings for the region championship. Earlier in the season, Woodbridge defeated Hylton 23-20.

6B Playoffs – Colonial Forge 24, Riverbend 14

The Eagles stumbled through a host of mistakes including a missed extra point, and a pair of fumbles as the sub-.500 Bears managed to gain a 14-12 lead entering the fourth quarter.

Perhaps the added week off was more rest that the state’s top-ranked team needed. However, they added a safety to tie the game at 14, and then a 42-yard Jadon Redding field goal to bild a slim lead before Ethan Garwood’s one-yard pass to Josh Sarratt provided the game’s final score, and gave Forge some breathing room as the clock ran down to zero.

The Eagles (11-0) gained a conservative 291 yards of offense, with Garwood completing 14 of 22 passes for 168 yards. Liam Kauthen led the ground attack with 79 yards on 16 carries.

Colonial Forge will host Manchester this weekend for the region title.

5D Playoffs – Stafford 48, Harrisonburg 27

Lovell Armstead rushed for 264 yards and two touchowns, including a 75-yard score on the Indians second play, to lead Stafford to a convincing 21-point win over Harrisonburg.

Quarterback Jalen Smith rushed for 102 yards and two scores, and threw for 95, with a touchdown to Landon Woodson. In all, the Indians rushed for a whopping 508 yards.

Stafford (9-3) will face Brooke Point (10-2) in Saturday afternoon’s region final.

5C Playoffs – Stone Bridge 45, Champe 22

Daniel Thompson caught three first-half touchdown passes to buoy the Bulldogs to a decisive victory over Champe. For the evening Thompson caught five balls for 106 yards.

Junior cornerback Ajani Gillis provided the defensive spark for Stone Bridge, scooping up an errant pitch and returning the ball three yards for a touchdown, helping the hosts build a 42-14 lead after three quarters.

Champe running back Carl Garmon III finished with 180 yards and two touchdowns, ending his senior season with 1,828 yards and 26 rushing touchdowns. The Knights finished the season at 8-4 for the second straight year.

Stone Bridge (12-0) will host Tuscarora (10-2) this Friday for the 5C crown.

3B Playoffs – Culpeper 14, Thomas Jefferson 7

Fifth-seeded Culpeper, who entered the game 5-6, stunned third-ranked Thomas Jefferson of Richmond.

All of the scoring was done in the first half. Javae Colclough (34 carries, 248 yards) scored on a 30-yard run in the opening quarter, while Noah Staton added a three-yard TD in the seond quarter. Culpeper rushed 43 times for all 280 of their yards.

Culpeper will tangle with another .500 team, James Monroe, on Saturday afternoon for the 3B Championship.

Weekend playoff scores

VISAA Division I Championship: Flint Hill 33, Collegiate 21

1A: Sussex Central 22, Washington-Lee 20
2B: Luray 21. Clarke Co. 7
3B: Culpeper 14, Thomas Jefferson 7
      James Monroe 27, Warren County 17
4B: Dinwiddie 40, Eastern View 37
4C: Liberty 28, Kettle Run 14
      Sherando 35, Millbrook 32
5C: Stone Bridge 45, Champe 22
      Tuscarora 14, Broad Run 12
5D: Stafford 40, Harrisonburg 27
      Brooke Point 22, North Stafford 20
6B: Colonial Forge 24, Riverbend 14
6C: Woodbridge 20, Lake Braddock 2
     Hylton 45, Freedom 28
6D: South Lakes 35, Madison 0
       Westfield 35, Patriot 6

Region Finals for this weekend

3B: Culpeper (6-6) @ James Monroe (6-6), Sat. 2 PM
4C: Sherando (10-2) @ Liberty (9-2)
5C: Tuscarora (10-2) @ Stone Bridge (12-0)
5D: Stafford (9-3) @ Brooke Point (10-2), Sat. 1 PM
6B: Manchester (11-1) @ Colonial Forge (11-0)
6C: Hylton (9-3) @ Woodbridge (11-1)
6D: South Lakes (11-1) @ Westfield (12-0)

The final dates and times will be announced by the VHSL on Monday afternoon. It is presumed that each game will be played at 7 PM on Friday, November 24 unless noted.