Isle of Wight Academy wins sixth state champsionship
Published 11:56 am Saturday, November 21, 2015
BY JEFFREY J. ZEIGLER
ISLE OF WIGHT
Luckily for Isle of Wight Academy, a football game has more than one half. Trailing 8-7 midway through Friday night’s VISAA Division IV state championship game, the Chargers reversed their lackluster first half performance and dumped Roanoke Catholic 33-16 to capture the state title.
The Chargers won their sixth state championship and first since 2007. It was also the school’s first Division IV state title.
Although Alec Edwards had the numbers – four touchdowns and 120 yards rushing – the win truly was a team effort. The IWA defense stepped up its effort in the second half, coming up with three sacks and an interception, and stopped the run when needed.
The Chargers (10-1), who had trailed at halftime only once the entire season (the first week), set the tone for the rest of the game on RC’s opening drive of the third quarter. On a fourth and one play from their own 42, the Celtics opted to go for it. IWA’s Zen Bristol stuffed Christopher Zoller in the backfield for a 2-yard loss.
The Chargers took over and immediately took advantage. Nine plays later, Edwards took a handoff and rumbled 2 yards for a touchdown. Powell’s extra point kick gave IWA the 14-8 lead with 6:20 to play in the third quarter.
The Chargers stopped another drive on a questionable play call by the Roanoke Catholic coaches. Again on fourth down in their own territory, the Celtics opted for a fake punt (their second one of the game). The play was sniffed out by the IWA defense and the long pass from Krajnik fell harmlessly to the turf.
Taking over at the RC 36, the Chargers again moved the ball with the help of a personal foul call. With 2:50 to play in the quarter, Donald King ran the ball 8 yards for a score. Powell’s boot made it 21-8.
The IWA defense held the Celtics to a three and out and then blew the game open, but not before a gutsy fourth down pass play. The Chargers had the ball at the RC 26 on a fourth and 7. Quarterback Bryce Casey hit Chad McCann with a strike and McCann fell forward for an 11-yard gain. On the next play, Edwards ran it up the gut 15 yards for the score and the 27-8 lead with 10:23 to play in the contest.
Roanoke Catholic quickly came back with a touchdown, one of the few defensive lapses in the second half for IWA. Jamel Tyree broke away for a 26-yard touchdown run to end a four-play drive. Krajnik tossed a 2-point conversion to Tyree to cut the IWA lead to 27-16 with 8:37 to play.
But the Chargers would not be denied, and put the nail in the coffin with a 7-play scoring drive. The drive was highlighted by an Edwards’ 16-yard run and a 4-yard touchdown scamper to up the lead to 33-16 with 5:06 to play.
IWA head coach Dale Chapman said the coaches reminded the team at halftime about the game plan.
“In the first half, we couldn’t get any kind of offensive flow going and we were a block or two away from making a big play,” he said. “We told the guys we had seen everything they had and we did a decent job of stopping them and it was only 8-7. We knew if we could just hold out and get some kind of offensive flow. We slowed it down in the second half, working the clock, getting long sustained drives, and finishing with scores.
“We changed up some things with our blocking schemes and our defense came up with some big plays and everything worked out like we needed it,” he added.
Roanoke Catholic used a methodical offense in the first half, which was hard to spot who was actually running the ball. Chapman said his team prepared for that all week.
“We had worked on that but it’s hard to simulate in practice. We talked about gap control and about not going with all the fakes. We just reminded them about that in the second half. Heart, determination, and desire sometimes takes over coaching any day of the week.”
Isle of Wight opened the scoring in the first quarter with an 11-play drive that ended with 52 seconds left in the period. Edwards took a handoff and scampered 16 yards for the touchdown. Powell’s kick gave the Chargers a 7-0 lead.
The Celtics countered with a score of their own, which never should have happened. IWA had Roanoke Catholic stopped at midfield on a third down run, but the Chargers were called for a late hit out of bounds on the play, giving the Celtics new life at the Isle of Wight 36.
Seven plays later, Tyree bulled his way 5 yards for a touchdown. A 2-point pass from quarterback Jeremiah Krajnik to tight end Christopher Zoller gave the Celtics an 8-7 lead with 4:50 left to play in the half.
Isle of Wight’s lackluster offense turned the ball over on downs and Roanoke Catholic (10-2) nearly scored again before half time. Aided by three IWA penalties, the Celtics moved the ball to the IWA 11. But RC could not score when Krajnik dropped back to pass and was gang tackled by the Isle of Wight defense to end the half.
King finished the game with 46 yards rushing for the Chargers and Zoller led the Roanoke Catholic offense with 99 yards rushing.
While the fans stormed the field after the contest, Chapman talked about this team in reference to the other state champions.
“I thought this was a special team (at the beginning of the season). I had people ask me is this the best team I ever coached. I said no, but it’s the most talented team I ever coached. Until they win the state championship, it’s not the best team I ever coached. Now it’s one of the best teams I ever coached,” he said.
IWA finished the season with a 10-game winning streak.