A sports adage says that “defense wins championships.” That statement couldn’t have been truer for the L.C. Bird Skyhawks on Saturday in the Group AAA Division Six State Championship. Bird took the lead on a 67-yard touchdown run by running back Paul Robertson with 5:57 to go in the second quarter and protected that lead the rest of the way. The defense held strong against a high-powered Ocean Lakes Dolphins offense as the Skyhawks won their first State Championship in school history by a final of 14-10.
“This doesn’t feel real,” said safety Brandon Walker. “This is one of those moments that don’t seem real until you’re there,” he continued. “This is the best defensive game we’ve ever played and that I’ve ever been a part of.”
All of the game’s scoring took place in the first half and things started off with a bang for Ocean Lakes. On the first play from scrimmage, the Dolphins ran a trick play that saw wide receiver Andre Dressenburg air it out to fellow wide receiver Anthony Wolters down the middle for a 77-yard touchdown just 23 seconds into the game.
The Skyhawks would answer with heavy doses of Paul Robertson. Early in the game, Ocean Lakes was able to bottle up the run game a bit, limiting Robertson in the first quarter.
“They took good slants and angles on us,” explained Robertson. “Their defensive tackles played well; we made adjustments in the run game.”
Bird broke through and tied the game at 7 on a 3-yard run by Robertson with 4:10 to go in the first quarter. The Skyhawks were able to score despite committing four penalties on the drive, and quarterback Terrance Ervin made several key throws to keep the drive alive.
In the second quarter, the Dolphins took the lead at 10-7 on a 34-yard field goal by kicker Tyler Buie.
On Bird’s next play from scrimmage, Robertson would streak down the field for 67 yards and the eventual game-winning touchdown. But the rest of the game was not without drama.
The Skyhawk defense bent but didn’t break, as it held Ocean Lakes to 1 for 10 on third down conversions and 0 for 3 on fourth down conversions. Defensive end JaQuan Anderson came up with three sacks, all coming on third or fourth down, and Walker tallied 11 tackles to lead the team from the defensive backfield.
“I knew we had a chance to do something big,” said Anderson. “I just had so much adrenaline and played hard – I’m happy I was able to be a part of the first team to win a state championship here at Bird.”
The biggest defensive sequence of the game came late in the fourth quarter, as a Terrance Ervin pass was intercepted in Bird territory with 4:24 left in the game. However, the Skyhawks defense rose up and stopped the Dolphins final drive attempt, getting the ball back and running out the clock.
Robertson finished the game with 179 yards and two touchdowns. The senior rushed for 1,144 yards and 11 touchdowns in four playoff games. The play of Bird’s offensive line, fullback Oliver Wright and tight end Gary Dorsey were an absolutely integral part of the team’s success all season, especially in the playoffs.
Offensive line coach Matt Bland explained that the key to the success of the line this year hinged on two things: First, returning five players that played on the line last season and secondly, the play of seniors Martavious Robinson and Tyler Wingen.
“The fact that Robinson and Wingen stepped up enabled us to move Wright and Dorsey to other positions, and strengthened our blocking overall,” Bland stated.
Robinson, the team’s 6-foot 3-inch, 345-pound tackle, was a first-team All-Dominion District performer this season.
Bland also cited the gutsy play of center Josey Davis, who he called “the heart and soul of Skyhawk football.”
Davis, who moved away to Ohio and came back to Virginia is the smallest member of the offensive line at 5-foot 11-inch, 205-pounds but has been playing for the past four weeks with what may be a broken bone in his foot.
“I moved back here to win a State Championship,” said Davis. “We gave this our all, all season; it’s an incredible feeling.”
For a program that has seven state tournament appearances , and has won twelve straight Dominion District titles, the victory was a perfect ending to a 14-0 season and it gave one of the strongest fan bases in the area one more reason to be proud of their school.
“This [a state championship] was the one thing that was missing from this program,” said head coach David Bedwell. “It’s going to be good to see that banner go up.”
Over the past four seasons, two teams from Chester have now won State Championships in football, with Thomas Dale winning in 2009. Go back four more seasons, and Meadowbrook took home a state championship in 2005. Our local teams are well-represented at the district, region and state level each year. The 2012 L.C. Bird Skyhawks football team gave us one more reason to cheer in Chester last Saturday.
Bird has begun raising funds for the team’s championship rings and ceremony to be held in the spring. The entire community is invited. They are seeking support from the community and area businesses to help cover the cost of the rings and ceremony. To contribute, contact Bird’s activities director, Chuck Thomas, at 768-6110 ext. 103 or send a check payable to L.C. Bird High School.