Maury QB Alvonte Lawton and Highland Springs QB D’Vonte Waller (Photos: Joe Barnes/recruit757 and Andy Hilton/recruit804)
Maury makes the trip to Richmond to deny Highland Springs a fourth consecutive state title
by Byron Jones, recruit804
VHSL Division 5 State Semi-Finals: Maury Commodores (12-1) vs. Highland Springs Springers (13-0) Saturday, December 1st, 2018 2PM
NOTE: Due to field conditions at Highland Springs High School, the game has been moved to Varina High School
From the beginning of the 2018 season, it appeared that Indian River and Highland Springs were on a collision course destined to clash this weekend in the State-Semi Finals. After upsetting the top-seeded Braves in last week’s Region A Championship game, the Commodores from Maury High School will be the ones making the trip up Interstate 64W looking to dethrone the kings of Division 5 football. The atmosphere for the contest will be electrifying. If you haven’t secured your tickets, I highly suggest you do so before arriving to the game.
LAST TIME OUT: MAURY
Maury dominated top-seeded Indian River from start to finish in the Division 5 Region A Championship game, amassing over 400-yards of total offense en route to a 42-21 victory. Commodores quarterback Alvonte Lawton threw four touchdown passes to three different receivers, finding Dashaun Peele, Keandre Lambert, and Ty’shaun Granger (2X). Running back C.J. Beasley rushed for two touchdowns on the evening.
LAST TIME OUT: HIGHLAND SPRINGS
D’Vonte Waller finished the afternoon with 206 passing yards and three touchdowns, as the Springers cruised past Henrico 40-6. Rayquan Smith added two touchdowns on the ground, while Jai-Veon Smalls and Antwan Wells (2X) were the recipients of Waller’s touchdown passes.
I haven’t slept much this week thinking about this game. ESPN should send the Gameday crew to Eastern Henrico in lieu of the SEC Championship. The Springers and the Commodores both have well disciplined quarterbacks, strong running games, deep-threat receivers, lock down secondaries, and middle linebackers who can plug the middle. Below are a few team statistics to give you an idea of what these teams are bringing to the table.
|Team Stats||Maury||Highland Springs|
|Off. 50+ Point Games||2||5|
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Maury: Alvonte Lawton (QB), CJ Beasley (RB/DB), Sheridan Jones (WR/DB – Clemson commit), KeAndre Lambert (WR/FS) Dashawn Peele (WR/DB) Tyshaun Granger (WR/FS), Mark Hill (MLB/RB), Luca Weber (PK)
Maury is going to see a practical mirror image of themselves staring across the line of scrimmage at them. Highland Springs can match the Commodores athlete for athlete, with perhaps twice the depth. That means that all of the major players on Maury’s roster are going to have to give 100% effort for 48 minutes. This will be a dogfight if Maury is to win because the Springers can throw talent on the field in waves.
Lawton is a winner who has sparked a fantastic season for the Commodores. On the season, Maury’s signal caller has gone 151 for 228 passing for 2,791 yards and 36 TDs with six INTs. He is not afraid to tuck the ball and run if he has to. On the ground, he has been good for 690 yards and seven scores. Lawton has a stable of wide receivers to throw to, including Jones, Lambert, Peele and Granger.
Beasley is not only the Commodores’ leading rusher, he’s been among the best in the 757. He was good for 1,387 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns in the regular season.
Hill has anchored the Maury defense, piling up 102 tackles as an enforcer at the heart of a defense that has kept opponent scoring low.
Kicker Luca Weber has been clutch, and he proved himself by nailing a game-winning field goal against Salem (Virginia Beach) with only four seconds left in the regional semifinal.
Highland Springs: D’Vonte Waller (QB), Tremayne Talbert (FS/ATH), Ali Jennings (WR- WVU commit) AJ Wells (WR/SS), David Laney (DB), Malcolm Greene (FS), Christian White (MLB), Rayquan Smith (RB)
The Springers have hardly been challenged all year. It’s gotten to the point that Coach Loren Johnson’s program is a machine. There is talent on the field and talent on the bench, waiting to come in.
Quarterback D’vonte Waller leads a vaunted Springer offense, and after leading the team to a state title in 2017, he’s red hot again this year, going 135 for 215 passing for 2,538 yards and 25 touchdowns against only three INTs. Jennings is his top target, hauling in 32 catches for 656 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. Wells is hot on Jennings’ heels, picking up 26 catches for 661 yards and nine touchdowns.
On the ground, the tandem of Rayquan Smith and Shy’rie McKeiver have eclipsed 1,000 rushing yards. Smith tallied 670 rushing yards and 12 TDs while McKeiver added 412 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Christian White anchors the defense along with David Laney (who has been a staple of the Springer Varsity since his freshman season) and Malcolm Greene, who now holds 17 scholarship offers as a junior.
SEALING THE DEAL
Highland Springs has the advantage. They expect to win. They’re trained to win. It’s tradition. That’s not to say that Maury is making this trip with plans to lose. The pressure is on the Commodores to play their best game possible. They’ve done that for weeks. They’re going to need to do it again in order to leave Richmond with a win and play the Class 5 State Championship game as a home game at Hampton University.
– Byron Jones