South Lakes High School
By Chris Colston
RESTON, Va.—Going into South Lakes’ first-round Class 6 playoff game, the biggest question was if they could muster up enough motivation to play its best. Just two weeks earlier, the Seahawks had romped over Yorktown on the road, and there was some fear they might take the Patriots lightly. Now, in the rematch, cold weather kept the crowd down, and they would have to generate their own excitement.
“I was absolutely concerned about that,” South Lakes coach Trey Taylor said. “When you beat someone like that, you never know what they’re going to do differently. Who knows? Yorktown was coming in with a chip on its shoulder, and it was a pretty dead environment.”
But as the brisk November winds swirled the fallen leaves outside Patricia A. Bergan Stadium, South Lakes overcame any possible letdown and moved on to the second round of the playoffs with a decisive 49-14 win.
“This time of year, it’s win or go home,” coach Taylor said. “These seniors don’t want their high school careers to be over.”
As it turned out the Seahawks won by almost the same score as two weeks ago (52-14). But this time they had the services of senior running back Albert Mensah, who had missed nearly three games with an ankle injury. He might not have been full strength, but he still managed 113 yards and three touchdowns on 17 carries.
“He’s a huge weapon out there,” coach Taylor said. “He’s still rusty, so we’ll have to work hard this week to get him back to his previous form as much as possible.”
Although senior quarterback Devin Miles had an off night passing—he completed four of 10 passes for 34 yards—the defense picked up the slack, returning two interceptions for touchdowns. The Patriots alternated two quarterbacks every two plays, and the Seahawks picked off each of them. With 8:49 left in the second quarter, sophomore Donovan White picked off junior William Porter and returned it 24 yards for a score. Three minutes later, sophomore Joseph Dagbe picked off sophomore Grant Wilson and returned it 10 yards for a touchdown.
The Seahawks should have had a third pick six in the quarter. Just before halftime, senior Spencer Alston intercepted a Porter pass at the South Lakes 9-yard line and raced 91 yards downfield into the end zone. But an official waved it off, claiming the Seahawks’ Noah Seneca held a defender at about the Yorktown 20. The call was a head-scratcher, because video showed Seneca actually made a legal block, with his hands inside the opponent. Of course it’s bad form to complain about calls in a blowout win; point being, Alston played a fantastic game on both sides of the ball. In addition to the would-be interception touchdown, he carried the ball 10 times for 125 yards and two touchdowns, and caught one pass for five yards.
Defensively, seniors Spencer Coppage and Chris Logan were both outstanding. Coppage spent much of the evening in the Yorktown backfield pressuring the Patriots quarterbacks, while Logan had three tackles. Junior Diego White led the way with five tackles, while junior Sage Beuchert-Irvine had four tackles—two for loss—and sophomore nose tackle Cris Smith added a sack.
While it was chilly Friday night, Seahawks assistant coach Wayne Monk still wore his trademark khaki shorts. He’ll be back in those short this Friday, when South Lakes— the second-seeded school in Class 6’s Region D—hosts No. 6-seeded James Madison. Game time is 7 p.m. The Warhawks beat No. 3 Centreville 22-15 in Clifton Friday night to advance. The winner of that game will face the winner of No. 1 Westfield and No. 5 Patriot; the Bulldogs beat Battlefield 28-14, while the Pioneers crushed fourth-seeded George Marshall 60-7.