Highland Springs 34 L.C. Bird 20 By Josh Mathews As Highland Springs started its defense of the 5A state title, the team knew it...

Highland Springs 34 L.C. Bird 20
By Josh Mathews

As Highland Springs started its defense of the 5A state title, the team knew it would take a complete effort on both sides of the football.

That’s what the Springers made against the visiting L.C. Bird. Senior quarterback Juwan Carter led the offense, passing for two touchdowns and running for two more, while the Highland Springs defense forced four second-half turnovers. The Springers toppled the Skyhawks 34-20 at Victor Kreiter Stadium Saturday afternoon.

Highland Springs 34 L.C. Bird 20

Highland Springs 34 L.C. Bird 20

“They [the defense] kept their heads in the game and didn’t get down when they [L.C. Bird] scored,” said offensive tackle and captain Mekhi Becton. “They just kept playing.”

Senior cornerback Rell Coley seemed to be always around the ball. He forced a fumble, and his interception helped to set up a Highland Springs touchdown. In the fourth quarter, it was Coley who ripped the ball from running back Shedrick McCall’s hands and recovered it to thwart another L.C. Bird drive.

The Skyhawks opened the game with a touchdown and two-point conversion on a seven yard run by McCall. Carter answered with a quarterback-keeper for Highland Springs, cutting the lead to 2.

Highland Springs built a 12-point lead on a 17-yard run by running back Shyrie McKiever and a 56-yard bomb from Carter to wide receiver Isaiah Winstead to make it 20-8 with 3:17 left in the first half.

L.C. Bird crept back, thanks to a Dionte Hunt interception. Then, Skyhawks quarterback Marcus Banks found the end zone on a 14-yard run to cut the Springers lead in half after a Keaton Riley extra-point. The half-time save was 20-14.

Highland Springs kept it simple in the second half when in the red zone, scoring both of its touchdowns on Carter runs. The Norfolk State commit finished with four touchdowns.

The third quarter was scoreless, but proved to be a pivotal one for Highland Springs. In the fourth quarter, it looked as if the Skyhawks would turn the tide, but an 80-yard touchdown pass from Banks to Demetrick Atkins was called back on a block-in-the-back penalty.
With less than a minute left, Banks tossed a touchdown pass to Johquin Wiley to make what would be L.C. Bird’s last offensive drive of the season a positive one.

Banks finished the game with two touchdowns, one by air and one by ground, but was hampered by three interceptions. An ODU commit, McCall finished the season with over 2,000 rushing yards and scored a touchdown.

With the loss, L.C. Bird finished its season with a 11-2 record. The 2016 season was the eighth consecutive season the Skyhawks won 10 games or more, and it was the seventh straight year that L.C. Bird scored at least one playoff victory.

With the win, Highland Springs improved to 12-1 and will get a rematch with Norview (Norfolk) in the 5A state semifinals or the 5A South region championship game. The Springers defeated Norview Sept. 2 by a score of 27-14.