Lake Taylor QB Jeff Foster and Maury Slot Dajon Evans (Photos: Thomas Matzke and Joe Barnes/recruit757)
The top two teams in the region square off as Maury hosts Lake Taylor
by Andy Hilton, recruit757
#1 Lake Taylor (2-0) vs. #2 Maury (1-0) at Powhatan Stadium, 7:00 p.m.
It’s the Eastern District showdown that every high school football fan in Norfolk has been waiting for.
Both teams had an opportunity to preview each other at the recruit757 Kickoff Classic at Darling Stadium in Hampton just two weeks ago. Maury romped over Bethel while Lake Taylor won a battle royale against Phoebus.
These two teams are very familiar with each other, and the players have grown up together just across town from each other and in some cases, practically across the street.
WHEN MAURY HAS THE BALL:
The Commodores showed that they’ve more than adequately filled the quarterback position with E.J. Gibson transferring from Granby. Gibson was impressive at the recruit757 College Prospect Assessment Camp in May. We didn’t know then that he’d be commanding one of the most potent offenses in the region come September. Gibson was 12-of-17 passing for 282 yards and four touchdowns in their opening win.
Gibson has plenty of weapons to throw to. Dashaun Peele, Tyshawn Granger, Khamran Laborn and KeAndre Lambert are the most prominent receiving targets. The offense doesn’t stop there. Virginia Tech commit C.J. Beasley drives the running game and was the #5 athlete in our recruit757 Fab 30 for 2019. In 2018, Beasley rushed for 1,778 yards on 147 carries with 19 touchdowns as the Commodores advanced to the VHSL Class 5 State Semifinal.
WHEN LAKE TAYLOR HAS THE BALL:
Quarterback Jeff Foster returns for his junior year, and running back/linebacker Malik Newton is a stalwart for the Titans. Coach Hank Sawyer’s veer offense keeps defenses guessing, and Foster has shown that he can throw the ball from the pocket and on the run. Ikeem Wright and Darius Speight are top targets in the passing game. The emergence of running back/linebacker Tyrique Edwards adds a new wrinkle to the Lake Taylor offense.
Lake Taylor has uncharacteristically gone to the air more often in their first two games, with Foster going 19 for 32 passing for 219 yards and two touchdowns. As a team, the Titans have 474 rushing yards in the first two games with Newton, Edwards and Foster sharing the bulk of the carries.
Don’t get too excited about a high scoring shootout. The offenses are prolific, but these teams win with defense. It will be war in the trenches. Lake Taylor will battle with man-to-man coverage all over the field, and Maury has athletes who are equally matched to the Titans and up for the challenge.
The 2018 meeting between these two teams was hotly contested and won by Lake Taylor, 49-35. Maury hasn’t won in this pairing since 2009 and the Commodores have only won twice in 21 meetings over the last 20 seasons.
I don’t make public score predictions or pick winners, but I will say that this game has the makings of an instant classic, with repercussions that will last through the regular season. Your eventual Eastern District champion should be decided with this game.
– Andy Hilton