Oscar Smith had everything rolling their way on Saturday
by Andy Hilton, recruit757
With the atmosphere of a “grudge match”, Saturday couldn’t have gone better for Oscar Smith.
The last time they met South County, it was in the 2019 VHSL Class 6 State Championship game at Hampton University’s Armstrong Stadium. That was almost a home game for Oscar Smith, but the Tigers fell short by a score of 14-13 in coach Chris Scott’s first attempt to win a state title for the Tigers.
Oscar Smith had already won state championships in 2008 and 2011, but a third title win had escaped their grasp in 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2019. All five state championship game losses came to teams from Northern Virginia. Saturday was the day that the Tigers did not let their prey get away.
The opening coin toss fell the way of the home team. Coach Scott elected to take the ball first and make a statement. Smith made a calculated march downfield, including a fourth down conversion along the way, capping the drive with a three-yard touchdown run by Ethan Vasko.
Where Vasko got his toes wet in his first title game in 2019, he dove in head first this time.
South County answered with a shocker on a deep route, Charlie Miska to Brock Spalding for 71 yards and a touchdown to knot the game at 7.
8:41: 80-yd TD run on a keeper by Ethan Vasko. PAT good. Oscar Smith 14, South County 7 pic.twitter.com/HbjePaLS60
— recruit757 (@Recruit757) May 1, 2021
Vasko had the answer. On the next play from scrimmage, Vasko burst through the line and outraced the South County defense for an 80-yard touchdown run. That gave Oscar Smith a 14-7 lead with 8:41 remaining in the first quarter.
The Tigers forced a turnover when Gary Parker drilled the kickoff into a Stallion on the front line of the return team. The carom shot past all of the Tigers, but the ball was recovered on the Oscar Smith 40, and the offense was back on the field.
Smith marched again and they scored again when Vasko connected with Kole Jones for a 7-yard touchdown to make the score 21-7.
Tigers piled on with a three-yard Kevon King touchdown run and led 28-7 at the end of the first quarter.
South County proved they could respond and scored on a 19-yard touchdown pass from Miska to Dylan Dunn on the second play of the second quarter. The secondary lapsed in coverage and Dunn was standing alone in the end zone when he caught the ball. It showed a flaw in the Tiger defense that had the team talking to each other and the coaches screaming on the sideline. Oscar Smith led 28-13, but the outcome did not seem obvious at this point.
The Tiger offense continued to produce. With 3:47 left in the half, Kevon King romped into the end zone on a 17-yard run to make the score 35-13.
South County continued to pester the Tigers, again exposing a hole in coverage as Miska found Dunn deep in Tiger territory for a 62-yard touchdown. Dunn was behind the defense and easily ran for the end zone. The Stallions converted two and were only two scores down as the first half was winding to a close.
Smith failed on their next possession, but Tae’ron Richardson interception and return put the Tigers back in business offensively. Vasko found Kole Jones for a 20-yard touchdown and the Tigers again extended their lead to three scores. An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty pushed the extra point back and Parker missed the conversion, but Smith led 41-21.
Oscar Smith wasn’t done with convincing themselves and the fans that the game was theirs. After another South County turnover, the Tigers scored again on a Vasko to Sherrod Covil screen where Covil hurdled a defender on his way to a 33-yard touchdown.
South County conservatively tried to muster a drive in the final 25 seconds of the half, but the Tigers took a 48-21 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Touchdowns on a Vasko run and a Covil run pushed the score to 62-21 at the 7:52 mark of the third quarter. Scott didn’t call off the dogs, but the Tigers had made their statement.
Senior safety Samuel Danka did his best to continually inspire the Stallion defense, but the Tigers gave them a fight unlike any they had seen this season.
“They wanted it more,” Dankah said. “And that’s what football comes down to. That’s what it’s all about, play after play. Who wants it? And they did.”
The game ended with a running clock and the Tigers secured their third state championship in football.
The Tiger defense forced five interceptions from Stallion quarterback Charlie Miska, including two by Richardson. Vasko rushed for 173 yards and three touchdowns. He passed for 246 yards and two touchdowns, both to Kole Jones. Vasko threw no picks in the championship game and the Stallion defense simply had no easy answer for the Tigers’ attack.
South County head coach Tynan Rolander was on the Stallion staff that went undefeated in 2019 and was riding a 24-game winning streak.
“There wasn’t a whole lot different from our approach to how we prepared, what we did, and what we expected to see. We got every bit of what we expected to see from them,” said the coach. “Being here, I can see why they love this place. It’s a hell of an atmosphere. They have a good thing going.”
“At the end of the day, our guys left it all out there on the field. That’s all you can ask of them,” Rolander stated.
The future is bright for South County. Don’t count them out for this fall.
“Given everyone we have leaving and everyone we have coming back, I’m excited about our chances to come back in the fall. We’ll be back to the grind. We’ll be prepared for it.”
Meanwhile, the Tigers can bask in a state championship win, at least for a little while. The season was dedicated to the memory of Oscar Smith graduate and long-time Tiger Football booster Claude Stafford (Class of 1967).
“It’s important to the community and it’s important to these young men,” Coach Scott explained in the post-game press conference. “I’m so happy for them, that they were able to bring the first one back to Oscar Smith since 2011, and we were able to ring that bell for Mr. Stafford.”
The Tiger tradition is that the victory bell, mounted between the locker room and the North end zone, is rung after every Tiger football win. The Tigers rung the bell after every single home game this season, and the sound was never sweeter than it was on Saturday afternoon.
FINAL: Oscar Smith 62, South County 21
– Andy Hilton
South County 7 14 0 0 – 21
Oscar Smith 28 20 14 0 – 61
OS – Vasko 3 run (Parker kick)
SC – Spalding 71 pass from Miska (Amir kick)
OS – Vasko 80 run (Parker kick)
OS – Kole Jones 7 pass from Vasko (Parker kick)
OS – King 2 run (Parker kick)
SC – Dunn 71 pass from Miska (kick failed)
OS – King 17 run (Parker kick)
SC – Dunn 67 pass from Miska (Miska run)
OS – Kole Jones 20 pass from Vasko (Parker kick)
OS – Covil 33 pass from Vasko (kick failed)
OS – Vasko 11 run (Parker kick)
OS – Covill 3 run (Parker kick)
Ethan Vasko 14-173, 3 TDs rushing, 13-18-0, 246 yards 3 TDs passing
Kevon King 11-77 2 TDs rushing
Tyvon Norfleet 10-85 rushing
Kole Jones 4-66, 2 TDs receiving, 1 INT
Amonte Jones 3-30 receiving
Sherrod Covil 2-40 1 TD rushing, 1-33, 1 TD receiving
Tae’Ron Richardson 4 tackles, 2 INTs
Charlie Miska 15-30-5, 277 yards, 3 TDs passing
Brock Spalding 5-44, TD receiving
Dylan Dunn 3-97 2 TDs receiving