The Meadowbrook Monarchs moved one step closer to achieving their goal of returning to the playoffs in beating Thomas Dale last Friday in Central District action 33-19. For the Monarchs, the Knights have been a tough test the past few seasons, as Thomas Dale had been responsible or partially responsible for knocking Meadowbrook out of the playoffs in both 2010 and 2011.
“It feels great to get a win against this team,” said Meadowbrook quarterback Gerard Johnson. “If you look at the history, even back in the eighties Dale had our number; this just feels great.”
Meadowbrook wasted no time jumping on the Knights, scoring 21 unanswered first-half points. On the third play of the game running back Brandon McShine took off on a 56-yard touchdown dash to give the Monarchs the early advantage. Three drives later, McShine would find pay dirt again, this time from five yards out. The senior finished with 179 yards to go with those two touchdowns. On the ensuing drive for Meadowbrook, Gerard Johnson took the ball in from 15 yards out.
“They came out and jumped on us good early,” said Thomas Dale head coach Kevin Tucker. “But I knew we had some fight left; we have faced lots of adversity through our injuries.”
Despite the struggle with injuries most of the season the Knights would have a lot left in the tank on senior night. On their first possession on the second half, quarterback A.J. Holliday got free for a 40-yard touchdown run to cut the lead to 21-7. However, Johnson would answer quickly for Meadowbrook with a 45-yard run of his own, making it 27-7.
The Knights would score again in the third quarter, on a one yard run by senior D.J. Reid, and then again early in the fourth quarter on a one yard run by quarterback John Ford, cutting the lead to 27-19.
Thomas Dale would then get their chance. On a Meadowbrook fumble on the hand-off exchange, Knights defensive lineman P.J. Best would jump on the ball and drag the pile, giving Dale its best shot.
The Monarch defense rose to the occasion on the next drive and came up with a huge defensive stop. Johnson was then able to orchestrate the drive and score from 15 yards out. Johnson finished the game with 173 yards rushing and three touchdowns.
With the win, Meadowbrook is poised to win its first outright Central District title in school history with two home games against Colonial Heights and Matoaca left on the schedule. They improved to 7-1 and 4-0 in the Central District. As a team, the Monarchs combined for 367 yards rushing in the game.
“My offensive line has been playing great all year, and is getting better,” said McShine. “I am so grateful for those guys, they make my life a lot easier.”
With the loss, Dale fell to 3-5 overall and 3-3 in the Central District. Reid led the Knights with another strong game on the ground with 136 yards and a touchdown. Notable seniors that played their last home game included linebacker Matt Saunders, running back D.J. Reid, linebacker/wide receiver Aaron Green and quarterback John Ford.
Thomas Dale will gear up for part two of the Battle of Chester in 2012 as they will travel to Bird for a 7:30 p.m. kick-off, Friday. Meadowbrook will host Colonial Heights with a 7 p.m. kick-off.