#6 Antwane Wells dives for the end zone (Photo: Joe Barnes/recruit757)
Highland Springs completes four-peat with 37-26 victory over Stone Bridge
by Brandon Mitchell, recruit804
Highland Springs understood the task at hand coming into Hampton University on Saturday afternoon. The Springers were taking on a Stone Bridge program they had seen twice at the championship level over the course of the last three seasons. For Highland Springs, it was a chance to win its four-consecutive Class 5 state championship and its third-consecutive victory over the Bulldogs. D’Vonte Waller was able to connect on 15-of-25 passes for 273 yards and two touchdowns in route to a 37-26 victory over Stone Bridge on Saturday evening.
“We were just ready to dominate,” Keeron Henderson told recruit804. “A lot of naysayers said they were going to come and beat us and we had to prove everyone wrong. We came out and dominated in the first half and that was our mindset for the game right there.”
The Springers came out with the same approach to this contest as they’ve done in every other contest this season and that’s making sure they put points on the board first. After the Springers were able to cross over the timeline, D’Vonte Waller connected with Tremayne Talbert on a 39-yard pitch and catch that put Highland Springs up 7-0.
This time last year, Talbert had a different point of view which was stationed near the sideline after an injury kept him out of the playoffs. This season was much different as Talbert was able to rehab from his injury and become an integral part of the Springers defense and special teams. Against Stone Bridge, Talbert was able to collect four receptions for 130 yards and one touchdown.
“I worked hard to get back to where I used to be,” Talbert said. “After that, I never thought about my injury and I just came out and played football. I had to come out here today and put my all into it.”
The Bulldogs found life after the Springers first score behind the arm of Mason Tatum who connected with Tai Felton from 16-yards out for a score. However, pinned back deep in their own territory with six minutes left in the second quarter, an intentional grounding call in the end zone gave the Springers a 9-7 lead midway through the second quarter. With 4:37 left in the second quarter, Ahman Foster-Powell found the end zone from 11-yards out to extend the Springers lead to 16-7.
Near the end of the second quarter, Highland Springs was able to take a short field and convert it into a 27-yard touchdown run off the legs of Ahman Foster-Powell to extend their lead to 23-7 heading into halftime.
Since the first half wasn’t too kind to the Bulldogs, Stone Bridge decided to open things up in the third quarter. Mason Tatum connected with Tai Felton yet again on a 46-yard touchdown strike with 1:46 in the third quarter to cut the Springers lead to 23-13. Highland Springs didn’t take too long to respond doing so on its next possession. D’Vonte Waller connected with A.J. Wells from 19-yards out extending their lead to 30-13. Nick Mell ensured the Bulldogs wouldn’t go down without a fight scoring midway through the forth quarter to cut the Springers lead to 30-20.
However, Highland Springs was able to match Stone Bridge when Ahman Foster-Powell found the end zone yet again this time from three-yards out to put the Springers up 37-20 with 2:52 left in the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs made things interesting with 1:47 left in the fourth frame when Mason Tatum hooked up with Jared Cole for a 34-yard touchdown catch to make things a little more respectable to end the game.
“I’m just excited about what’s been accomplished over the last four years,” Coach Loren Johnson stated. “I think it’s an incredible feat to put yourself in the same conversation as Mike Smith and the Bill Dee. It just means a lot for our community and our football team.”
Stone Bridge: The Bulldogs came out and did everything they were supposed to do against Highland Springs. One week after the Springers put up 71 points against a very talented Maury program, Stone Bridge held Highland Springs to just 37 points on the evening. The problem is, the Bulldogs were only able to muster just 26 points on the day. D’Vonte Waller was able to pick apart the Bulldogs secondary all afternoon almost accumulating 300 passing yards on the day. Stone Bridge now drops to 1-8 in championship games throughout the history of their program and will have some big shoes to fill with Mason Tatum and Nick Mell among others graduating in June. Players such as Jared Cole and Tai Felton should less the blow of current seniors leaving.
Highland Springs: Defensively, the Springers were slightly off their game. David Laney and Devyn Coles were beat deep a couple times by Tai Felton as he was able to do anything he wanted on the offensive side of the ball. However, the Springers were able to hold an offense that ran for over 340 yards against North Stafford last week to just 104 yards on the ground collectively. The Springers didn’t change anything in preparation for the Bulldogs. Shy’re McKeiver assumed most of the work on the ground while Rayquan Smith and Ahman Foster-Powell did their due diligence to keep the Stone Bridge defense guessing. The Springers deployed the same game plan they normally would’ve and changed nothing for the Bulldogs. Their consistency and tenacity his what helped guide them to their fourth-consecutive Class 5 state championship.
FINAL: Highland Springs 37, Stone Bridge 26
– Brandon Mitchell