QB Brendon Clark tosses a pass against Ocean Lakes (Photo: Mary Ann Magnant/recruit757)
All-around effort advances Manchester to first Class 6 State Championship game in school history
by Brandon Mitchell, recruit804
On paper, Ocean Lakes appeared to be a solid opponent for Manchester coming into Saturday afternoon’s Class 6 state semi-final match up.
Xander Jedlick compiled a stat sheet that could easily be compared to Manchester quarterback and Notre Dame commit Brendon Clark. Eli Snowden had been solid in the backfield just like Manchester starting running back Isaiah Todd. Tayvion Land, Shawn Hamilton and Myles Alston have been extremely reliable the same as Alston Robinson, Kei’Trel Clark and K.J. McNeil. However, when it came time to put it all together on the football field, only one team was able to do in such a way that made a state semifinal contest look like a scrimmage.
Brendon Clark completed 11-of-18 passes for 138 yards and two touchdowns while rushing six times for 23 yards and adding another touchdown to his total. Despite Clark fueling the offense on the afternoon, it was the defense that stepped up huge for the Lancers yet again allowing only three points on the day to Ocean Lakes. With Manchester knocking off the Dolphins 42-3 at the Virginia Beach Sportsplex on Saturday, it was the first time Ocean Lakes has been held without a touchdown in a contest since the 2016 season.
Their 39-point margin of defeat is the worst in the history of their program in post-season play. This was due to constant pressure put on Xander Jedlick by Hakeem Beamon, Will Pritchard, Alston Robinson and Demetrius Tyler. The Lancers were able to sack Jedlick five times on the day and pick him off three times with K.J. McNeil taking one back for a 72-yard score in the second quarter.
“The difference of the game was our defense,” Coach Tom Hall told recruit804. “Our defense is just amazing and they’ve played like that all year.”
On the initial drive of the game it was the Lancers defense deploying a bend, but don’t break mentality. Ocean Lakes got as far as the Lancers 15-yard line before sizzling out on fourth down settling for a 32-yard field goal to open the contest. Manchester would respond right away with Brendon Clark capping off the Lancers first drive with a 26-yard touchdown run to out Manchester up 7-3.
The Lancers would wait until the second quarter before finding the end zone once again. K.J. McNeil stepped in front of a Xander Jedlick pass and returned it 62-yards to put the Lancers up 14-3. It only took three plays of shutdown defense for the Lancers to get the ball back midway through the second quarter. On Manchester’s next possession, Brendon and Kei’Trel Clark hooked up on a wide receiver screen that went for 13-yards and a touchdown after Kei’Trel put a spin move on the defensive back in pursuit.
The route continued on the first play after Ocean Lakes went three and out on their next drive yet again. Brendon Clark connected with Alston Robinson on a slant that turned into a 57-yard touchdown connection to put Manchester up 28-3 heading into halftime.
After a quiet third quarter, Kei’Trel Clark added to the defensive onslaught in the fourth quarter intercepting Xander Jedlick giving the Lancers’ defensive its second interception of the day.
“They got some plays on us early on and Coach (Jason) Harrell made some adjustments, Coach Hall stated. “You know the kids answered the call and I was really proud.”
K.J. McNeil added his second touchdown of the day late in the fourth quarter from five-yards out to put the Lancers up 35-3. Brandon Majette would come up huge for Manchester at the 1:51 mark in the fourth quarter picking off Xander Jedlick to give the Lancers three interceptions on the day off the Ocean Lakes prospect. In an effort to run the rest of the time off the clock, back-up quarterback Romell Garcia took a quarterback draw 31-yards for the game’s final score.
Manchester: They are who we thought they were. Reading through the Virginian Pilot, there was a prediction that had Ocean Lakes running away with a 34-31 victory over Manchester. The interesting thing about that prediction is that the Lancers had only allowed 60 total points on the season prior to Saturday evening with 21 coming from Clover Hill alone. However, the Lancers are as good as advertised.
They continue to do multiple things well and make adjustments as needed to ensure they are aren’t out of place a second time in case a mistake is made. Their front seven on defense are as good as they come and their secondary have proved day-in and day-out the they can shutdown an opposing team’s best quarterback. This Manchester team will go down as one of the of the best in school history at season’s end.
Ocean Lakes: The loss to the Lancers for Ocean Lakes takes nothing away from what they were able to accomplish this season. Xander Jedlick performed admirably for the Dolphins while Tayvion Land, Myles Alston and Shawn Hamilton kept many drives going with remarkable catches. At one point in the contest, Tayvion Land hauled in an incredible 12-yard catch while being upended by Hakeem Beamon who lost his helmet on the play.
The problem for Ocean Lakes wasn’t execution despite picking up 12 penalties for 115 yards. It just wasn’t their time and Manchester’s offense couldn’t be stopped. Both teams went through hurdles trying to get to this point with Manchester finally besting Colonial Forge and Ocean Lakes finally conquering Oscar Smith. With the Dolphins losing key players such as Tayvion Land, Xander Jedlick, Eli Snowden and Shawn Hamilton among others, you hope the window hasn’t closed for Ocean Lakes.
Manchester will now travel to Hampton University next Saturday to face Freedom-Woodbridge who was able to knock off the three-time defending Class 6 state champions in Westfield, 35-28. Game time is set for 4:30 p.m.
– Brandon Mitchell