Highland Springs vs. Stone Bridge 2018 (Photo: Joe Barnes/recruit757)
After a one year hiatus, Highland Springs returns to the Class 5 State Title game
by Byron Jones, recruit804
Stone Bridge Bulldogs (8-0) vs. Highland Springs Springers (9-0) 2:00 PM Saturday at Varina High School
State Championship weekend is upon us and the Class 5 matchup pits two familiar foes against one another. Stone Bridge will make their third straight appearance in the title bout, while Highland Springs is appearing in their fifth trip to the dance in the past six seasons. The Springers and Bulldogs have collided in three state finals (2015, 2016, 2018) with Highland Springs emerging victorious each time.
Can this be the season Stone Bridge breaks through? Or will Highland Springs regain the throne atop of Class 5?
Scouting Stone Bridge
Stone Bridge Head Coach Mickey Thompson has been at the helm since the school opened in 2000. During his tenure, Thompson has guided the Bulldogs to 17 double-digit win season, over 225 wins, and ten appearances in the state finals. Their only state title in program history came in 2007 when they defeated Potomac.
The Bulldogs are averaging over 58 points per contest and they haven’t scored less than 42 points all season. They are led offensively by Quarterback Billy Wiles who accepted a preferred walk-on spot with Clemson back in December. Wiles has been sensational leading his team in his final season. He’s completed 80 of his 134 pass attempts for 1,243 yards and 13 TDs. His favorite targets have been D.J. Cobbs (27 receptions 477 yards 4 TDs) and Marshall Mattison (22 receptions 350 yards 5 TDs).
Their ground game has racked up over 2200 yards and 41 TDs. Junior Eli Mason is the leader of the pack (105 carries 883 yards 19 TD’s) followed by Mattison (27 carries 277 yards 6 TD’s), and Kai Irizarry (37 carries 266 yards 2 TDs).
Defensively, Stone Bridge is giving up 11.1 points per game and is led by senior linebacker Jeremiah Covington. Covington, who is committed to attend West Virginia State in the fall, has posted 39 solo stops, 15 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, and a forced fumble. Other key defensive standouts include Gabe Perez (35 tackles 14 TFL), Kandler Martin (25 tackles 9 sacks 2 forced fumbles), Skylar Martin (28 tackles 7 PBU 2 sacks), and Jacob Thomas (14 Tackles 5 INT 9 PBU). Thomas has returned four interceptions and punt returns for touchdowns. He also helped lead the Bulldogs to their first state title in basketball a few months ago.
Scouting Highland Springs
Head Coach Loren Johnson has built Highland Springs into one of the most premier football programs in the state since he arrived in 2008. Johnson has recorded 133 wins and has guided the Springers to four state titles.
Offensively, the Springers average 28 points/game. Senior quarterback Juwan Dent has thrown for 677 yards and eight touchdowns. The rushing attack is led by St. Francis University signee Jordan Jackson. Jackson has been the backbone of the Springers offense. He’s rushed for 760 yards on 106 carries and has found the endzone nine times.
The receiving corps is deep and all have Division I opportunities. The unit features Quanye Veney (22 receptions 314 yards TD), Michael Hodge (21 receptions 273 yards 2 TDs), Latrell Sutton (14 receptions 253 yards 4 TDs) and Christian Robinson (8 receptions 95 yards 2 TDs).
Defensively, the Springers have posted five shutouts and have allowed just 31 points. They are led by Region 5B Defensive Player of the Year and Oklahoma signee Kelvin Gilliam. Gilliam has posted 29.5 total tackles (22 solo), 7 sacks, and two forced fumbles. His future Sooner teammate, Damond Harmon, has been a ball hawk this spring. Harmon has four interceptions, two forced fumbles, and 14.5 total tackles. Boston College signee Jamareeh Jones has notched 24.5 total tackles (19 solo), 4.5 TFL, and an interception.
Other notable defensive stand outs include Victor Wilson (31 total tackles, 21 solo, 1.5 sacks), Daquan Giles (27 tackles, 20 solo, forced fumble, two INT), Davon Edwards (18 total tackles, 13 solo, 2 INT), Payton Jackson (18 tackles, 11 solo, 4 sacks), Rashaud Pernell (14.5 tackles 6 sacks). Jabari Parker who will play defensive back at Virginia Tech has registered 8.5 tackles and a forced fumble.
Kickoff is set for 2:00 PM at Varina High School. Be sure to follow recruit804 on Facebook and Twitter for scoring updates. Post-game review to follow.
– Byron Jones