Highland Springs tailback Rayquan Smith splits the Maury defense (Photo: Andy Hilton/recruit804)
Highland Springs will return to the Class 5 State Championship for a shot at four in a row
by Byron Jones, recruit804
Maury vs. Highland Springs was nothing short of a classic… In the first half that is.
The Commodores trailed the Springers 24-21 heading into the break.
But as we all have seen over the past several years, Highland Springs tends to get stronger as the game progresses. Highland Springs outscored Maury 47-7 in the second half of Saturday’s State Semifinal contest held at Varina High School. With the win, the Springers punched their ticket to next week’s State Championship game at Hampton University.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
Highland Springs took a 3-0 lead over Maury after Jayden Alsheskie connected on a 28-yard field goal attempt with 7:53 remaining in the first quarter.
What would come next would be a flurry of scoring exchanges by both squads.Maury responded on their next possession when quarterback Alvonte Lawton connected with Keandre Lambert on a 46-yard strike (PAT-Weber) bringing the score to 7-3 in favor of the Commodores.
Highland Springs Rayquan Smith broke off a 24-yard touchdown scamper (PAT-Alsheskie) putting the Springers back on top 10-7.
Maury would follow up Highland Springs latest touchdown with another one of their own. Lawton found Ty’shaun Granger on a 49-yard bomb (PAT-Weber) putting Maury back on top of the Springers 14-10.
On the final play of the first period, Tremayne Talbert showed the entire crowd why he is arguably the best return specialist in the entire state of Virginia. Talbert fielded the punt at the 1-yard line and returned it 99-yards for another Springer score (PAT-Alsheskie) making the score 17-14 heading into the second quarter of play.
After being bombarded with so much action in the first twelve minutes of play, the second quarter moved a bit slower.
After forcing a Maury to turn the ball over on downs, Highland Springs Ahman Foster-Powell cashed in a 1-yard touchdown run (PAT-Alsheskie) extending the Springer lead to 24-14 with 6:19 remaining in the first half.
The Commodores would take advantage of the clock and a roughing the punter call to chew up much of the time remaining in the half. Lawton would throw his third touchdown pass of the afternoon with 9.1 seconds remaining in the second quarter, hitting Dashaun Peele on a 3-yard pass (PAT-Weber).
Maury threw everything including the kitchen sink at Highland Springs in the first half and had the three-time defending champs on the ropes. But high school football is a game of 48-minutes and the Springers had to much fire power and experience on their team.On the opening kickoff of the second half, Tremayne Talbert returned the kick 99-yards for a touchdown (PAT-No Good) making the score 30-21. After forcing a Maury three and out, Highland Spring’s Shy’re McKeiver broke free for a 38-yard touchdown run (PAT-Alsheskie) putting the Springers out front by 16.
The Commodores would finally respond when CJ Beasley scored on a 5-yard touchdown run (PAT-Weber) but that would be their final score of the evening, as the Kings of Division 5 football took over.
Quarterback D’vonte Waller would be responsible for the next two Springer touchdowns. First, the senior called his own number on a 12-yard touchdown run (PAT-Alsheskie), and then he found throw a 48-yard touchdown pass to Talbert (PAT- Alsheskie) with 9:58 remaining in the game. Ahmad Foster-Powell would punch in his second rushing touchdown of the night on a 1-yard dive (PAT-Alsheskie) making the score 57-28.
Shaquez Cosby, who hasn’t received nowhere near the amount of recognition as his fellow “Seat Belt Gang” members decided he was going to make the remainder of the game his own personal highlight reel. Cosby returned a KeAndre Lambert interception 100-yards to the house (PAT-Alsheskie). A few minutes later, he would block a punt, recover it, and score a touchdown to conclude the scoring for the game.
“(This win) says a lot about the character of our kids, the ability to get things done, all of the hard work and dedication to our craft, the ability of the coaches to draw up and scheme up the right plays at the right time… it’s a great feeling,” said Highland Springs head coach Loren Johnson after the game. “There were a lot of penalties, but we’ll roll with it. We’ll fix it. The excitement of the game, and some of the things that were said and done were uncharacteristic, but our kids will bounce back, we’ll bounce back, and we’ll play the best we can next week.”
Naturally, as the Highland Springs lead increased late in the game, things got a little chippy between the players. Maury did their best to climb out of the hole, even late in the fourth quarter. At the end, both teams lined up and shook hands without incident. The Springers move on and the Commodores go home after achieving one of the best seasons in decades for their program.
Highland Springs will once again make the trip to Hampton for the State Championship game and will square off with a familiar foe. Stone Bridge defeated North Stafford to earn a shot at the Springers in next weeks finals. Highland Springs defeated Stone Bridge in the 2015 and 2016 State Championships.
“You dream about being the best. Being considered one of the best in the state. My personal goal is to be in that group. But you gotta go out and compete. You gotta play a good Stone Bridge team. A lot of things are at stake. For our region, for our area, for the east end of Henrico County, all of those things are very important,” said Johnson.
– Byron Jones