SHS Rips Lee

Posted: October 15, 2013

CHARLOTTESVILLE – Perhaps a high school football game postponed twice due to wet field conditions and moved from Staunton to a neutral site on Monday night was bound to be ugly.

It was far more ugly for the Leemen, who didn’t even have starting quarterback Javon Chisely at the game.

Spotswood’s defense forced five turnovers and senior safety Matt Slater blocked R.E. Lee’s punt on the opening possession to help a slow-starting offense as the Trailblazers rolled to a 38-3 victory over the Leemen at Monticello High School’s turf field.

“We kept looking down there [on the sideline],” SHS coach Chris Dodson said of Chisley’s unexpected absence. “We were looking at the locker room. We looked at every car that pulled up. We were hoping he didn’t catch a cab here.”

Instead, Spotswood (6-1 overall, 3-0 in the Valley District) got a better look at backup quarterbacks Tyler Smallwood and Benjamin Smith. Chisley, Lee’s leading rusher, practiced this week but was held out of the game due to disciplinary reasons.

“We didn’t lose that game because he wasn’t here,” said Lee coach David Tibbs, who hinted that Chisley wasn’t the only Lee player to miss the trip. “…If he does what he’s supposed to, we’ll let him play in the next one.”

Spotswood managed only 36 yards of offense in the first half against defensive end Tarren Clayton and Lee’s stout front, but benefitted greatly from short fields. Both SHS touchdowns before the break came on fourth-down runs, one starting at the Lee 5-yard line courtesy of Slater’s blocked punt and the other at the Lee 16 thanks to a Matt Weston interception.

Senior fullback Michael Hernandez opened the scoring with a 1-yard run, and Slater converted on fourth-and-2 from the 7 to put the Blazers up 14-3 with 3:19 left in the second quarter.

“Their defensive line played really well,” said Slater, who finished with a modest 50 yards and two TDs on 16 carries after shaking off an injury. “Their linebackers came up and hit the holes hard.”

Spotswood’s defense, which yielded only 50 yards in the first half, chased Smallwood from the game when Weston intercepted the senior halfway through the second quarter. It was Smallwood’s second pick in seven plays.

“Tyler struggled a little bit. He wasn’t accurate in the first half,” Tibbs said. “Ben is a thrower and a runner.”

Smith, a 5-foot-7 sophomore, sparked the Leemen (3-3, 1-1) as a dual-threat, nearly connecting with Tavian Brown on a 27-yard strike to the end zone just before the half. But Brown couldn’t quite hang on. Smith ran for a game-high 64 yards on 14 carries and led all passers with 61 yards, completing four of seven attempts. But he also struggled with handoffs and exchanges that resulted in fumbles.

Dodson said he stressed to his team that Lee was not a “one-man show” and to play defense as if Chisley were out there. The Leemen had disciplinary issues on the field at times, highlighted by a pair of personal foul penalties after a Spotswood extra point that gave the Blazers 30 yards on the kickoff. Lee had eight penalties for 66 yards.

SHS, on the other hand, worked out its offensive kinks and drew just two flags.

“We came out just a little bit sluggish,” SHS senior David Blandon said. “We had so much time between our last game [and Monday night]. Our offense started rolling after halftime and the score showed that.”

Blandon hauled in an interception in the first half and a check-down pass in the slot from Zach Polglase for a 37-yard score that initiated a 24-point third quarter for the Blazers, who will now prepare for a trip to Harrisonburg on a short week.

“It was a big win,” Slater said of knocking off the 2012 Valley District co-champions, “but we’re always looking to the next game.”