The Blazers managed to win Blair’s first home playoff game in school history
On Nov. 12, Blair’s Blazers (8-2) showcased stunning offensive plays and strong defense to steamroll the Laurel Spartans (8-3) and advanced to the Maryland semi-finals with a score of 56-35. This was the first home playoff game in school history, and the Blazers made their mark with this phenomenal win.
Blair senior offensive guard Antonio Cruz explained how the team prepared for this historic game. “There’s a lot more planning that goes into this. Everybody is fighting [and] practicing really hard… we all tryna’ make history,” Cruz stated.
The way both teams came into the first half made it clear this was going to be a game worth the watch. Laurel started the game with an electrifying kick return touchdown to make the score 0-7; this signaled to Blair they weren’t a team to take lightly.
Blair’s offense came out with a similar energy to Laurel’s and quickly made their way to the goal line. As they approached their third down, it seemed as if Blair was going to be held out of the end zone, but senior Blazer running back Micheal Dinkel made sure that didn’t happen, trucking his way through Laurel’s defensive line for a 2-yard touchdown.
Blair got the ball back almost immediately and ensured their possession wasn’t a waste. Once again, Dinkel found his way into the end zone for another rushing touchdown.
With the score at 14-7, Blair’s defense followed that touchdown with multiple significant stops. Then, towards the end of the first quarter, Senior middle linebacker Izuchukwu Nweke sacked Laurel’s quarterback on a crucial third down and forced them to punt the ball back to Blair.
Cruz pointed out how important it was that they got the ball back to score before the first quarter ended. “Izu [Nweke]’s sack helped the momentum [both] on offense and defense,” he said.
The momentum sparked by Blair’s defense was clear in the following offensive plays Blair was pulling off. Junior quarterback Kendell Anderson capped off Blair’s dominant first quarter with a smooth QB rushing touchdown to pull away from the Spartans with a 21-7 score.
After a highlight-filled performance from Blair, Laurel had to respond in the second quarter. They did just that with a rushing touchdown, bringing them closer to the Blazers with a score of 21-14.
Blair’s offense kept the pace from the first quarter going and completed a 60-yard bomb of a touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Aven Williams. The Blazers made sure they didn’t let the Spartans get closer than one touchdown away after the first quarter.
Laurel responded to that huge pass made by Blair with their own 60-yard touchdown pass. The score increased to 28-21, and the pressure was on the Blazers to ensure the Spartans had no chance of coming back.
The Blazers started scoring even more frequently than they already were, as Anderson scrambled into the endzone for another rushing touchdown. Right afterwards, junior wide receiver Mikhail Seiken yanked down a short touchdown pass to end the first half with a score of 42-21.
Seiken explained the impact that touchdown had on the game. “I mean, we had double their points. The game technically wasn’t over, but in my head I knew we were taking the ‘dub,” Seiken said.
Laurel made the score 42-28 with a rushing touchdown to start the third quarter. Blair was forced to punt the ball on their next possession, but Blair’s defense managed to keep Laurel at their own 10-yard line and forced them to punt the ball right back. Blair received the ball at the 50-yard line, which was followed by an easy rushing touchdown by Dinkel, his third of the night.
Though the score was 49-28, the third quarter ended on a bad note for the Blazers. Laurel caught a 15-yard touchdown pass to make the score 49-35, and Seiken was injured. Seiken is a crucial part of the team and hopefully will be in good enough condition for the next playoff game.
Blair closed out the game with a strong fourth quarter. With enough wiggle room to try outlandish plays, the Blazers completed a fake-out play with senior wide receiver Andy Merrill as the quarterback. He completed a wide open pass to Worrel, resulting in the final score of 56-35.
To add salt onto Laurel’s deep wound, senior free safety Ricardo Villars Jr. pulled down Blair’s only interception of the game on Laurel’s last possession. That interception ended the game and let Blair take home their first home playoff win.
The Blazers, as a whole, were proud of their performance, but still believe they have room to improve as they move onto their next playoff game against Paint Branch. “There were definitely a few blown coverages and some long touchdowns that we let up. We can definitely fix that… we’re going to come stronger next week,” Seiken stated.
Samuale Asefa. Hello! My name is Sam and I'm a writer for SCO. I am a self-proclaimed movie buff and love listening to all types of music. More »