Saturday, September 9, 2017

Springfield Central Falls to National Power Bishop Sullivan

National power Bishop Sullivan dominated from the moment they got off the bus, but Springfield Central can take a ton away from playing against one of the best high school football teams in America.
By John McGuirk (@Patsfan1313)

SPRINGFIELD - When it was learned late into last spring that Central High's football schedule had a sudden opening after a school, which initially agreed to play them, opted out, it left Golden Eagles head coach Valdamar Brower scrambling to find a replacement.

After going through a national high school football web service, Brower immediately got the word out that he had a vacancy that needed to be filled. At that point it didn't matter who the opponent was. It was shortly thereafter when Brower began receiving inquiries from a number of programs ranging from Florida to California willing to fill the void. After some discussion, Central was finally able to set up a game against Virginia Beach-based national power Bishop Sullivan Catholic.

With apologies to prior opening day Golden Eagle opponents, which included BC High, Everett and La Salle Academy, all fine football institutions in their own right, the Crusaders are on a completely different plane when it comes to their overflowing talent pool.

Fortified with a bevy of Division 1 commits on its roster, Bishop Sullivan made the 10 hour bus trip north in search of its first victory of the season. The Crusaders came up short in their first two contests, falling to a pair of nationally ranked programs in American Heritage (Plantation, FL) and St. Frances Academy (Baltimore, MD).

Ed. Note- American Heritage is the alma mater of SuiteSports editor Joe Parello. Patriot Pride!

Obviously hungry for victory, Bishop Sullivan knew the Golden Eagles would present a formidable challenge. For months Central has been frothing at the mouth for this much-anticipated match-up, facing an opponent like no other in its long and storied history.

And boy did it show.

The Crusaders took two weeks of frustration out on the Golden Eagles, as they amassed a mesmerizing 734 yards of offense en route to an easy 55-13 victory Saturday at sun-splashed Berte Field.

"Coming up here and seeing what a great community this area is was a special opportunity for us," said Bishop Sullivan head coach Chris Scott, who said he would come back again next year if a deal can be done. "Central has a program and a coaching staff that seems to have it going really well. Today our guys were able to work out some kinks and recover from some injuries and were able to weather the storm of the first two weeks."

Led by Maryland bound quarterback Tyler DeSue, Bishop Sullivan made it look relatively easy. DeSue was just one of several top performers contributing to this triumph. The senior threw for a pair of touchdowns and ran for another. Junior running back Mike Martinez rushed for 111 yards and a touchdown, playing just over a half before the second unit entered this tilt.

"This was definitely worth the ride up here," DeSue said. "We started the season 0-2, which is something we don't normally do. But we stayed focused throughout the week leading up to this game. I think we put some things together to get a really good win today. We needed this win. We were able to play a lot of our younger guys too and all of them really stepped up."

Equally as impressive was the Crusaders defense who did a yeoman-like job containing Central's rushing attack while keeping constant pressure on Golden Eagles quarterback Aaron-Moses Williams. The senior, when he had time to throw, completed serviceable 22 passes for 202 yards and a score.

Bishop Sullivan took any drama out of this one early after scoring on its first two possessions. An opening 48-yard drive was capped off by a Martinez 1-yard plunge over the goal line. Following a quick three-and-out by Central, the Crusaders were back at it. Runs of 19 and 26 yards by DeSue and Martinez, respectively, set up a DeSue 22 yard scoring strike to Virginia Tech commit Armani Chatman to go on top 14-0 with just over five minutes left in the first quarter. DeSue was 17 of 27 passing for 278 yards and netted 110 yards on the ground on six attempts.

"When we are able to jump ahead it allows our defense to play a little differently," said Scott. "For us to sustain some long drives and finishing them was also huge. Today we were able to finish. With Tyler it is good to seeing him come into his own. He's a great talent and is a great leader all the way around."

After a sustained Golden Eagles drive ended with a punt early in the second quarter, the Crusaders were on the move again. Starting from its own 4, Bishop Sullivan faced a 3rd-and-10 from its 15. DeSue, a proven duel-threat, scampered 85 yard, busting through a couple of would-be tackles in the process, to increase the Crusaders advantage to 21-0 with 6:55 remaining before intermission.

Two minutes later, with ball back in their hands, Bishop Sullivan ran a Chatman reverse for 49 yards before DeSue found sophomore Sheridan Jones over the middle for a 22 yard scoring hookup.

Central's offense continued to be stuck in neutral due in large part to the Crusaders defensive front three, consisting of Da'Kari Scott, Akeem Smith and Adarious Jones, who continued to push the Golden Eagles' offensive line backwards. That, in turn, allowed senior linebacker Teradja Mitchell to roam freely around the field, making multiple tackles in the process.

Mitchell, regarded as one of the premier inside linebackers in the country, is headed to Ohio State next season. Also creating havoc was defensive end, and Temple commit, Dante Burke who had a couple of free shots on Williams coming off the edge. Certainly not to be overlooked, the Crusader secondary also put forth a standout effort by consistently shadowing the Golden Eagles deep threats all throughout.

Central, who will not play a tougher opponent the rest of the season, finally got on the board with three minutes to go before the half thanks to a Williams swing pass to receiver Chauncey Cogell, who took it 56 yards down the left sideline into the end zone.

But the celebration was be short-lived. Bishop Sullivan got the ball back and on its second play, Martinez darted down field 67 yards and a 35-7 lead. After a fake punt by the Golden Eagles on fourth down gave the Crusaders the ball on the Central 31, DeSue was picked off in the end zone by defensive back Elijah Ayers, who returned it the length of the field for an apparent score. However, the touchdown was negated because of a chop block penalty.

"We are a team that is still trying to find an identity," Brower said. "It's basically a brand new team this year that is very good and very exciting. It may not be good in terms of wins or losses yet, but it is very good to have a new team that is fresh and trying to form its own identity. As far as what the scoreboard says, that's on me. I scheduled this game. But I believe in our players and our coaches and will continue to do so. Our expectation throughout this year is to continue to try and get everyone on the same page. I have no problem playing teams like this and will continue to do so."

Having racked up 417 yards of offense in the first half alone, the Crusaders were looking for more to start the final half. A Jayden Lilly 32 yard run up the middle pushed the lead to 41-7. Early in the fourth, a 90 yard march was finished off by Carlton Winston's 1-yard carry.

A few moments later, Lilly (5 carries, 70 yards) would add to the Crusaders total following his 26 yard jaunt making it 55-7 halfway through the final quarter. Never once showing any signs of quit, the Golden Eagles continued to fight. It would pay off as Cogell hauled in 4 yard scoring pass from Mahari Miller in the final minute to take some of the sting out of this one.

No comments :