Maury vs. Highland Springs 2018 (Photo: Andy Hilton/recruit757)
It’s 2018 all over again as Highland Springs and Maury meet in a Class 5 Semifinal
by Byron Jones, recruit804 and recruit757
Highland Springs (8-0) vs. #4 Maury (6-1) 2:00 p.m. Saturday, Powhatan Field, Norfolk
Highland Springs will make a business trip down to the 757 Saturday to square off with Maury. The last time these two matched up, Highland Springs ran away with a 71-28 victory en route to capturing their fourth consecutive state championship.
Many expected to see these two teams collide in a rematch in 2019. However, Varina knocked the Springers out in the Region 5B semi-finals. Maury defeated the Blue Devils 17-14 in the state semi-finals and went on to win the Class 5 title over Stone Bridge.
Highland Springs has pitched four shutouts and have given up just 31 points in their eight games this season. One of their four shutouts came in the Region 5B semi-finals against Prince George. They were set to battle Manchester in a highly anticipated matchup for the Region 5B title but COVID struck the Lancers and the game was ruled a no contest.
Maury was actually on the brink of not making the playoffs despite having only one loss. Things worked out in their favor and the Commodores were able to sneak into the Region 5A playoffs as a fourth seed. They took care of Salem 20-7 in the region semi-finals before blanking Deep Creek 41-0 in the finals to claim their third consecutive regional crown.
SCOUTING HIGHLAND SPRINGS
Although the Springers 40-game winning streak and bid for an unprecedented fifth consecutive state title ended in 2019, they still have a streak intact that’s worth mentioning. Since 2014, Highland Springs is 9-0 against competition from the 757 and have outscored their opponents 334-140 in that span.
The Springers offense averages 30 points/game and they are as balanced as you will see at the high school level. As a unit, they’ve thrown for 991 yards using a dual QB system and have rushed for an additional 1,181 yards with a multitude of weapons.
Senior quarterback Juwan Dent has thrown for 495 yards and six touchdowns. He is in sole possession of QB1 duties since Khaliyl Nasir suffered a season-ending injury against Varina. 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 678 yards on 86 carries and has found the end zone nine times.
The receiving corps is deep and all have Division I opportunities. The unit features Quanye Veney (18 receptions 289 yards TD), Michael Hodge (18 receptions 234 yards 2 TD’s), Latrell Sutton (11 receptions 155 yards 2 TDs) and Christian Robinson (8 receptions 95 yards 2 TDs).
Defensively, the Springers are led by Region 5B Defensive Player of the Year and Oklahoma signee Kelvin Gilliam. Gilliam has posted 25 total tackles (19 solo), 5.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles. His future Sooner teammate, Damond Harmon, has been a ball hawk this spring. Harmon has three interceptions, two forced fumbles, and 10.5 total tackles. Boston College signee Jamareeh Jones has notched 20.5 total tackles (15 solo), 4.5 TFL, and an interception.
Other notable defensive stand outs include Victor Wilson (27.5 total tackles, 19 solo, 1.5 sacks), Daquan Giles (24.5 tackles, 18 solo, forced fumble, INT), Davon Edwards (14.5 total tackles, 10 solo, 2 INT’S), Payton Jackson (15 tackles, 10 solo, 2.5 sacks), Rashaud Pernell (13 tackles 5 sacks). Jabari Parker who will play defensive back at Virginia Tech has registered 6.5 tackles and a forced fumble.
The Commodores are the defending VHSL Class 5 state champions after beating Varina in the 2019 semifinal and Stone Bridge in the championship game. Gone from that team is top defensive back and wide receiver Keandre Lambert (Penn State), along with Ty Granger (Towson) and Darian Varner (Temple). Both Maury and Highland Springs routinely send players to Division I programs now.
Head coach Dyrri McCain positions his team as young, with somewhere around five starters scheduled to graduate this June.
Offensively, Maury enters Saturday’s contest averaging 36 points per game. Quarterback E.J. Gibson is back for his senior season, but junior athlete Ahmarian Granger has seen an increasing amount of playing time over the course of this season. Don’t discount Granger as a running threat only. His ability to keep defenses honest as dual-threat quarterback has had defenses troubled. Focus on the passing game and Granger and you’ll find yourself getting punished by leading rusher Demonte Dunlap. Dunlap transferred over from I.C. Norcom for his senior season and he has enjoyed his time in the spotlight. He rushed for three touchdowns in last week’s 41-0 romp over Deep Creek.
On defense, the Commodores are giving up almost 11 points per game. Their 27-14 loss to defending Class 4 state champion Lake Taylor is the only outlier. In their six wins, Maury has given up just over eight points a game.
Kickoff is set for 2:00PM. I will be onsite covering the contest. Be sure to follow recruit804 on Facebook and Twitter and recruit757 on Twitter for scoring updates. Post-game review to follow.
– Byron Jones