Spartans come on late in season, win first ever State Title

 
Cameron Mellor (@CamMellor)
February 25, 2015

 

 

In 2014, many firsts happened all across the country. Some teams made it to the playoffs for the first time, while others advanced to the season’s culminating championship games for the first time.

 

In Columbia, Missouri the Spartans from Battle High School captured their school’s first ever State Championship in football, beating Nixa, 24-22.

 

The fight to get to the State Championship for Battle, however, was just that – quite the challenge.

 

The Spartans started their season off on the wrong foot, dropping a high-scoring matchup to Jackson, 62-34. Despite 265 rushing yards by Nash Sutherlin, the Spartans were outdone in the second half, surrendering 27 points over the final two quarters.

 

Despite the loss to open the season, Battle put forth a gutsy performance against Wentzville Holt in their second game of the season. Leading 42-28 at halftime, the Spartans allowed the Indians back in to the game in the second half after a quick 70-yard touchdown heave cut the Battle advantage to 49-42.

 

Sutherlin however would put the game away with a 50-yard touchdown rush, his second of the game, with just 3:47 left to play, giving the Spartans a 56-42 advantage. Even with a late touchdown surrendered to the Indians, Battle pulled off the victory, 56-49, in what would be the highest scoring game of the season in terms of total points for both teams.

 

After their exciting victory over Holt, Battle took to their home field for the first time in 2014, against Class 6 Rock Bridge.

 

After starting the game with two unconventional scores, a safety and a field goal, that gave the Spartans a 5-0 lead, the Bruins would launch a 25-point scoring onslaught over the next 25 minutes. Rock Bridge would hold on to defeat Battle, 25-11, pushing the Spartans record to just 1-2 on the season.

 

The Spartans brought their record back to even with a 36-0 shutout victory over Excelsior Springs in week four, only to be right back on the losing side of things a week later. Against Helias Catholic, Battle turned the ball over three times and committed nine penalties for 75 yards in a 29-14 defeat.

 

The playoffs seemed a long ways away for the Spartans after week five, but nevertheless, the Battle defense stood tall in their next two games, holding both Hickman and Lee’s Summit North to just seven points apiece and just 116 and 96 total yards of offense, respectively. Battle defeated the Kewpies, 14-7 before defeating the Broncos, 37-7.

 

Any momentum built from their two consecutive wins before, was lost the next week when Battle hosted Jefferson City in the final regular season home game of the year. The Jays built a 31-7 lead at halftime and didn’t look back, defeating the Spartans, 38-20.

 

In the final game of the regular season however, Battle once again got back to their winning ways, defeating Hannibal, 28-14 to push their record to 5-4 before heading to the playoffs as an unlikely contender.

 

The start to the playoffs pitted the Spartans against a one-win team in Washington, whom Battle defeated easily, 56-8 to advance.

 

Carrying what would become a common trend into their next game, Battle would face off against one of their regions top teams, and one of the teams that had been qualified for an automatic pass from the first round of the playoffs. Waynesville, the Spartans opponent in the second round, was coming off a week of rest, having been granted a bye in the first round.

 

Their rest seemingly paid off as late in the fourth quarter, Waynesville running back Jalen Thomas scored from 1-yard out to give the Tigers their first lead of the game, 17-14. That lead needed to last just 0:18 seconds longer however, as Sutherlin capped a quick drive with a 3-yard touchdown rush for the game-winning score.

 

The Spartans advanced to the third round after defeating Waynesville, 21-17.

 

Battle would take on Camdenton in their next postseason game, another team that had been granted a pass through the first round of the playoffs.

 

The Spartans scored first on a Brevinn Tyler connection to Chyrome Thorpe in the first quarter before Camdenton would tie the score before halftime at 7-7. Battle however would score two quick times in the third quarter to steal momentum and hold on to beat the Lakers, 22-14 and advance to the state quarterfinals.

 

Fort Zumwalt North would await the Spartans in the quarterfinals, having won their two playoffs games with ease, 29-0 over Parkway North and 42-7 over Fort Zumwalt East. The Panthers were also granted a bye in the first round of the playoffs and would meet the Spartans holding  a 10-1 record.

 

Similar to their previous game, Battle and Fort Zumwalt North went to the halftime break tied, this time at 13 points apiece.

 

Tyler would throw a 52-yard touchdown pass to Javeon McQuitty in the opening moments of the third quarter before both defenses would stand tall. The Tyler-McQuitty connection would be the final points of the game, and be enough to advance the Spartans to the state semifinals with a 20-13 victory.

 

Taking on their lone opponent who wasn’t granted that first round bye, the Spartans seemingly looked the part of the dominant team, dismantling Ladue Horton Watkins, 34-6 to advance to the school’s first ever state championship game appearance.

 

The State Championship game featured two teams just as unlikely as the other to have made it to the season’s culminating game. Both Nixa and Battle would bring with them a 10-4 record.

 

The Spartans got the scoring started with a Marshall Willingham 17-yard score with just under four minutes remaining in the first quarter.

 

The Eagles answered back however, with two quick Alec Murphy scores that gave Nixa a 14-7 lead that they would take to halftime. A scoreless third quarter was broken in rapid fashion as Battle kicker Kaleb Adams connected on a 43-yard field goal with 4:01 left.

 

Nixe quarterback Logan Tyler would be intercepted on the Eagles ensuing possession as Darrion Hall would secure the takeaway and return it for a touchdown. After a successful two-point conversion, the Spartans lead 18-14 in just a matter of 1:10 seconds.

 

Riding their momentum, Brevinn Tyler would rush from 18-yards out to give Battle a 24-14 lead at the beginning of the fourth quarter.

 

Adams field goal in the third quarter would prove to be the difference in the game after Dawson Mills connected with Dustin Clifton for 17-yards and a score that brought the Eagles within two points, 24-22.

 

The Spartans would need to bleed the remaining 4:18 off of the clock to hold on to the victory. They got help by means of a big 33-yard completion from Tyler to Thorpe on a 3rd and 8 play. After the pass, Tyler would seemingly put the game away with a 50-yard touchdown rush, only to be called back by an illegal procedure penalty.

 

Nevertheless, the Spartans would be able to run out the final moments of the clock and secure the school’s first ever football State Championship, holding on to defeat Nixa, 24-22.

 

 

After an up and down season ended with the ultimate goal, the 2015 season for the Spartans will have to have some exciting moments to compete with this past season. Battle will return Tyler (a rising junior), Thorpe, McQuitty and a host of other offensive stars looking to defend their title.

 

One thing is for sure, if teams didn’t know who the Battle Spartans were before 2014, they know now.

 

Offensive stat leaders

Rushing: Nash Sutherlin (2090 yards)

Passing: Brevinn Tyler (1379 yards)

Receiving: Chyrome Thorpe (554 yards)

All-Purpose: Nash Sutherlin (1290 yards)

Touchdowns: Nash Sutherlin (19)

Rush attempts: Nash Sutherlin (280 carries)

Receptions: Chyrome Thorpe (43 catches)

 

Defensive stat leaders

Interceptions: Kole Hinton (4)

Interception return: Marshall Willingham (111 yards)

Fumbles recovered: Chandler Anderson (4)

 

Team statistics

Total scoring: 427 points

Opponent scoring: 311

Total offense: 5186 yards

Total rushing yards: 1669 yards

Total passing yards: 3517 yards

Opponent offense: 3153 yards

Opponent rushing yards: 1475 yards

Opponent passing yards: 1678 yards

Turnover differential: +9 (18 interceptions, 11 fumbles)

Top teams, hated rivals take the field Friday in Virginia

 
Cameron Mellor (@CamMellor)
November 6, 2014
 

The last week of the regular season is upon us in Virginia.

 

Week 11 of the regular season brings with it obvious playoff ramifications for teams everywhere. For some, its win to get in, or it’s lose and you’re out.

 

For others, the last week of the season is finally the time to face off against your biggest rivals. The game that some kids wait all season for. Some, maybe even for an entire year.

 

This week – three games caught our eyes that will have their respective cities abuzz.

 

LC Bird at Manchester – Chesterfield, Virginia

 

A marquee matchup in its own rite gets a personal touch when LC Bird comes to Manchester, Friday night at 7:00 pm. Current Manchester quarterback Daniel Rose played his first two seasons for LC Bird from 2010-12.

 

Rose is now the senior leader of a Manchester offense that averages over 42 points per game.

 

The 6-foot-2, 175-pound quarterback has thrown for 1316 yards and 14 touchdowns compared to just three interceptions this season. He has also run the ball 81 times for 477 yards and another four touchdowns. He and the Lancers offense enter the game on the heels of an impressive 41-13 performance over James River a week ago.

 

Rose completed 10-of-12 passes for 219 yards and three scores. He ran the ball for 54 yards while Eric Gordon totaled 68 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Trevor Benn brought down six of Rose’s completions for 156 yards and two touchdowns.

 

 

 

Rose will host his former team in the final game of the regular season and for his Senior Night in Chesterfield – the place he now calls home.

 

“I love my team,” Rose told Digital Scout earlier this season. “I love my school and the whole Manchester community.”

 

Daniel Rose celebrates a touchdown early in the season.

 

Briar Woods at Tuscarora – Leesburg, Virginia

 

In a 5A matchup in Northern Virginia, the 9-0 Tuscarora Huskies, possibly the state’s best team, will face their stiffest test since a game against Broad Run in early October, this Friday against Briar Woods.

 

The Huskies are led by senior running back and Harvard commit, Noah Reimers who has totaled 1766 rushing yards this season. His yardage and 24 rush touchdowns are tops across the District, Maryland, Virginia (DMV) region.

 

With Reimers setting the pace for the Huskies offense, only one of their nine victories this season has been within one possession. The aforementioned game against Broad Run demonstrated the perseverance of this Huskies team as Tuscarora outscored the Spartans 28-14 in the second half, including 16-0 in the fourth quarter in a comeback 35-28 victory.

 

Briar Woods will enter the game with a chip on their shoulder following a surprising 8-7 loss to Potomac Falls last Friday night. Previous to that, the Falcons had shut out two of their last three opponents and were outscoring teams by a combined 143-21 in their previous three games.

 

Briar Woods will make the short trek from Ashburn to Leesburg on Friday night for a pivotal matchup for playoff seeding while Tuscarora will look to remain perfect and enter the 5A playoffs guaranteeing home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with a win. The two take the field Friday night at 7:00 pm.

 

Loudoun Valley at Woodgrove – Purcellville, Virginia

 

In a pivotal Dulles District matchup, arch-rivals Loudoun Valley will face host Woodgrove with important playoff seedings on the line.

 

Woodgrove enters the game with a 6-3 record and looking to host a 4A playoff game for the second consecutive season. Valley will face off against the Wolverines, holding a 7-2 record and have all but guaranteed at least one home playoff game in the 3A playoffs.

 

The Wolverines have been paced by senior wide receiver Dylan Mellor whose 16 receiving touchdowns are tied for tops across the DMV. He has six multi-TD games so far this season and is looking to eclipse the 2,000 receiving yard mark. He has 120 career receptions, 1,986 career yards and 29 receiving touchdowns – all school records.

 

First-year starting quarterback Billy Sheehan has thrown the ball well this season, completing 96-of-172 passes for 1472 yards and 20 touchdowns. His yardage and touchdowns are also single-season school records.

 

Junior running back Charlie Clewis has quietly enjoyed a great season, running the ball 228 times for 1176 yards and 11 touchdowns as the Wolverines have balanced their offensive attack out in recent weeks.

 

Valley comes in to the game, following a disappointing home finale against Loudoun County, dropping the game to the Raiders 28-24.

 

Separated by a mere 3.7 miles, just across Route 7, the Vikings and Wolverines will take part in the ‘Battle for the Ville’ on Friday night. Last season, Woodgrove spoiled Valley’s Senior Night by defeating the Vikings 35-0 behind two Mellor touchdowns.

 

Mellor lines up against a Valley defender in their meeting a season ago.

 

Valley will look to turn the tables and reverse their recent fortune against their in-town rivals and upset the Woodgrove Senior Night this Friday at 7:00 pm.

 

Crowley's Byron Cooke selected as HSGC Player of the Week

 

By: Cameron Mellor
January 23, 2014

 

The final minutes of any sporting event can be an intense few moments, but the final seconds that lead to an overtime period on the high school hard court is something to behold.

 

That was evident this past Tuesday night in Texas when Crowley High School’s lead man – Byron Cooke – was leaned upon late in the fourth quarter and then again in overtime during a contest against Centennial High School. Cooke led the Eagles in points and assists, but it was two crucial steals in the extra frame that ultimately led to the 69-67 victory over the Spartans.

 

Cooke finished with 18 points, six rebounds, six steals and five assists en route to being named HSGC’s National Player of the Week.

 

“He is a captain and our leader on the floor,” Crowley head coach Alfred Jones said.

 

 

The first four quarters were nothing short of exciting as Centennial jumped out to an early lead in the first. Crowley inched closer in the second as the teams went to halftime with the Spartans leading, 28-25.

 

It was Centennial who looked poised to take the game over after the break as they outscored Crowley in the third giving them an 11-point lead at the end of three. The fourth quarter was all Crowley, as it was Cooke who led the Eagles on a tear, closing the final quarter on a 18-10 run, inching within three points with less than 10 seconds on the clock.

 

With the game on the line, it was Cooke with the ball in his hands.

 

“Byron hit a three-pointer with four seconds left to send the game into overtime,” Jones said. “Byron is our catalyst.”

 

After Byron’s game-tying three, the two teams headed into overtime tied at 60. It was Cooke again to lead for Crowley. He assisted on the first basket of OT by Wyatt Beene then sank a basket of his own, giving the Eagles a quick four-point lead.

 

As overtime progressed, Centennial closed the gap and secured possession down only two points, 69-67, with under a minute to play. Cooke stole the ensuing possession from the Spartans, but his efforts were squandered by a costly turnover at the other end of the court, breathing new life into the Centennial sails.

 

Alas, it was Cooke again to the rescue for Crowley as he again stole possession from the Spartans before running the clock out, locking up the victory.

 

“Byron plays 30 minutes a game, and leads us to victory,” Jones said.

 

 

Cooke and the Crowley Eagles will be back in action Friday night, January 24, 2014 against the Everman Bulldogs. Follow along with the action right here: http://www.hsgamecenter.com/basketball/male/game/2772334

Senior running back selected as HSGC Player of the Week

 

By Cameron Mellor

November 26, 2013

 

Woodgrove senior running back Josh Sweet has seen the end zone a total of 40 times this season, but not once had he scored more than twice in a single quarter.  Sweet not only accomplished that feat this past Friday night, he scored twice in the opening frame before opponent Eastern View had even touched the ball.

 

 

Sweet would go on to notch four first quarter touchdowns for the Wolverines against the Cyclones, en route to a 49-7 one sided affair over Eastern View in the second round of the Virginia High School 4A playoffs.

 

For his efforts against EVHS, Sweet has been selected as the HSGC National Player of the Week.

 

“He’s a rare breed that you don’t see too much anymore,” Woodgrove head coach Mike Skinner said. “He’s a tough guy who puts his team first.”

 

Sweet, who will be attending Cornell to play ball next season, scored on the fifth play of the game, just over two minutes after the opening kickoff.  The Cyclones fumbled the ensuing ‘pooch-kick’ and Sweet wasted no time before scoring again.  Just 58 seconds later, the 220-pound senior punched in his second score on a five-yard scamper in which he carried several defenders into the end zone with him.

 

 

Just a mere 41 seconds later the Cyclones bounced back as quarterback Josh Stallings connected on a 58-yard touchdown pass to Ra’jee Brown, continuing the fast scoring trend.  Answering directly back however, the Woodgrove offense – led by Sweet – marched down the field, and added another Sweet touchdown, this time from 25 yards out.

 

That score increased the Wolverine lead to 21-7, with 5:58 still left in the first quarter.

 

The frenzied scoring wasn’t finished however as Woodgrove held Eastern View to another punt with just over five minutes left and the Wolverine offense would again march down the field, scoring on Sweet’s fourth rushing touchdown of the quarter with 29 seconds left in the opening frame.

 

“(Eastern View) had an explosive offense and we felt like we needed to hold on to the ball,” Skinner said.  “When Josh is getting 12 to 15 yards per carry, I think we did a good job of that.”

 

Up 28-7 heading into the second quarter, Sweet would notch another touchdown late in the frame, giving him five scores in the half, and matching his season high for rushing touchdowns in a game.

 

 

Scoring his sixth and final touchdown early in the third quarter, Sweet propelled Woodgrove to a 42-7 lead and gave the starters the ability to rest for the majority of the second half.

 

With Sweet’s season-high six rushing touchdowns in the game, the Wolverines needed just one pass attempt against Eastern View – a 25-yard completion from senior quarterback Will Koester to wide receiver Dylan Mellor – before the game was out of hand.

 

Sweet finished the game with 35 carries for 345 yards and his six scores.

 

“He’s got a lot of leadership in him,” Skinner said.  “He’s that tough kid who is about whatever makes the team better.  I think that’s why we’re doing so well this season, he’s put his team first, and we’ve succeeded.”

 

For the season, Sweet now has 2,572 yards on the ground and 39 touchdowns.  He returned a kickoff for a touchdown early in the season to push his season total to 40 in 2013.  He has eclipsed 200 yards rushing in eight consecutive games while totaling over 300 in both playoff games this season.

 

Don’t think those numbers get in the senior’s head however, as his coach reminds us of his humility.

 

“He’s just one of the guys,” Skinner said.  “He doesn’t let it get to him, nor does he do anything to show it off.  He is, just one of the guys.”

 

Sweet and the Wolverines take on the Salem Spartans this Friday, November 29 at 7:00.  You can follow along with the game live right here: http://www.hsgamecenter.com/football/male/game/2477537