Ocean Lakes QB Josh Brown and Maury RB C.J. Beasley (Photos: Andy Hilton and Joe Barnes/recruit757)
High flying Maury gets a new challenge in Ocean Lakes
by Andy Hilton, recruit757
#1 Maury (5-0) at #7 Ocean Lakes (5-1) 7:00 p.m. Friday
In 2018, Maury and Ocean Lakes followed parallel paths. Both teams won regional titles before falling to the eventual state champion in the state semifinal.
In this new season, Maury seems to have gotten even better, graduating a few seniors, adding some key pieces, and rolling through their schedule so far.
Ocean Lakes lost seniors, including quarterback Xander Jedlick, they’ve seen young players rise up, yet they’ve encountered a few bumps in the road.
Last week against Green Run, the Dolphins held off a late run by the Stallions to win 35-30. A few weeks ago, the Dolphins rallied to force Princess Anne into overtime before falling to the Cavaliers 29-28.
Maury has had no such challenges to their season so far, and they’ve crushed some good teams on their way to a 50-8 margin across the first half of the season.
Both teams are making a claim for the #1 seed in their respective regions. In Region 6A, Ocean Lakes is in the catbird seat with Oscar Smith nipping at their heels. In Region 5A, Maury leads with Salem and Woodside also posting undefeated records and trailing close behind.
It’s the first ever meeting between the two teams. It’s unusual for Beach District teams to get an out-of-district game since the district has 11 teams. Ocean Lakes dropped their game against Kempsville (now on a 62-game losing streak) in order to strengthen their schedule and add a new challenge. Kempsville (0-6) plays Granby (1-4) tonight.
Maury scheduled Bethel (3-3), Hermitage (2-4) and Ocean Lakes (5-1) as their out-of-district games.
MAURY ON OFFENSE: There’s no doubt that the Commodores are rolling up points. Quarterback Eric “E.J.” Gibson has had some prolific performances on the way to tallying a total of 71 for 101 passing for 1,262 yards and seven touchdowns. Running back C.J. Beasley (Virginia Tech) has rushed for 563 yards and eight TDs. KeAndre Lambert (Penn State) is the top receiving target in their offense. Lambert has scored 11 touchdowns on the season (three in kick and punt returns) and has 340 receiving yards on the season as a part of 635 all-purpose yards.
OCEAN LAKES ON OFFENSE: Quarterback Josh Brown leads the Dolphins on offense. While he hasn’t risen to the level of Jedlick (who was 23-3 in his final two seasons at Ocean Lakes), Brown is a dual-threat who has 948 all-purpose yards and 10 touchdowns in six games. Kai Hodge leads the rushing attack with 646 rushing yards and seven touchdowns: an average of over 100 yards per game.
A loss here for Ocean Lakes could give Oscar Smith the opening to claim the top spot in the Region 6A power ratings race. Maury feels the same pressure, with Woodside and Salem on course to run the table in their districts, though Woodside hasn’t played Phoebus yet and Salem hasn’t played Ocean Lakes yet.
The playoff races are rounding into form, and a win here would be big for the victor.
– Andy Hilton