Blair starts season 3-1; has more wins than past 3 years combined
OCTOBER 5, JAMES HUBERT BLAKE—
Only one week after suffering a tough defeat from a strong Seneca Valley High School team, the Blazers spoiled Blake High School's homecoming. Blair showed once again that it has the ability to bounce back in pivotal points of the game, defeating the Bengals in overtime 22-14 and improving its record to 3-1.
Blair won the overtime coin-toss, giving them the first chance to score from ten yards out, in accordance with high school overtime rules. On the first play, Coach James Short called for a sweep to the left side, which the team regards as their "bread and butter."
Senior guard Pierre Ayers threw a kick- out block on the Blake defensive end, which allowed senior running back Alfonso Angus to cut upfield and get the ball to the two-yard line. This set up junior fullback Felix Ruiz's short touchdown run. The Blazers took a 22-14 lead after the ensuing two-point conversion.
But Blake still had a chance to tie the game with a touchdown of its own. The Blazer defense limited the Bengals to a one-yard run and three incomplete passes by junior quarterback Matt Mondonedo to seal the win.
The Blazers took the field in the second half with the confidence to win the game. "Although Coach Short gave us an exceptional halftime speech, all of us knew in our hearts what we had to do," said junior tackle Chris Giovanniello. "That was get the job done, and that's what we did."
The first quarter consisted of a series of unsuccessful drives and punts between both teams. This pattern ended late in the second quarter when Blair senior punter Chris Kelly mishandled the snap. He was able to recover and run the ball 13 yards, but the ball was still turned over to Blake on downs. Blake running back Charles Smilli, who ran for a total of 147 yards on 17 carries, rushed into the end zone from the two-yard line for the first of his two touchdowns on the night.
In the first half Blair's offense was limited to 63 total yards compared to Blake's 149. The second half was a different story, with Blair putting up 114 yards on offense while limiting the Bengals to only 75.
The defense did not toughen up until Short decided to switch to a different defensive formation that put an extra lineman on the line of scrimmage. This move boosted the Blazer defense and carried them into the second half. Led by senior linebacker Akmed Jah and senior defensive end Junior Jabbe, the defense was able to shut down the Bengals' rushing attack for most of the second half.
Blair did not get on the scoreboard until a short punt by Blake early in the fourth quarter and a good run by Ruiz placed Blair in scoring position on Blake's 20-yard line. The drive ended with a three-yard score by Ruiz with 9:08 to play in the fourth quarter. But the failed extra point allowed Blake to cling on to a one-point lead at 7-6.
The Blazer offense was driving into Blake's territory again, but the tables were turned when Blake's Kirk Porter recovered a fumble and ran it back to Blair's 32-yard line. Blake then put the game further out of Blair's reach after a 28-yard touchdown run by Smilli and an extra point made it 14-6.
The Blazers needed a touchdown and two-point conversion to tie and they wasted no time. Junior Cedric Mack returned Blake's kick-off 87 yards for a touchdown with 3:37 left in regulation. Angus ran in the clutch two-point conversion to knot the game at 14.
Mack felt that he owed it to his teammates to make a big play. "On the [touchdown] before the kickoff I missed the tackle. So I felt I needed to make it up to the team and the best way to do that is to put points on the board," said Mack.
Junior quarterback Ariel Piesert, who started for the injured senior James McCrae, stepped up with a solid effort. Piesert, who ran the ball for over 30 yards and was two for two passing, said he was ready for his first varsity start. "I knew we could win. I wasn't nervous, I knew all the plays and I had the mindset to win. The coaches really prepared me for this game," said Piesert.
In the Blazers first game of the season against the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Barons the team was able to put 34 points on the board and show the county that Blair has the ability to rely solely on a running game to score. Led by Angus and Ruiz, the Blazers rushed for over 300 yards.
Ruiz credited his teammates for his rushing success against B-CC. "I wish I could give half of my yards to my line and the other half to Avon [Jackson] and Cedric [Mack] for their key downfield blocks that sprung me for big yardage," he said. "Without the mix of downfield blocking and an awesome line I would have gained zero yards."
In the second game of the season at Einstein High School, the Blazers also needed last minute heroics to win. With less than two minutes in the game and the score tied at seven, junior linebacker Nino Tran and senior linebacker Damion Williams combined to tackle the Einstein quarterback in the end zone for a safety, which gave the Blazers a 9-7 lead that they would not relinquish.
Calvin Anderson. Calvin Anderson was born in Washington D.C. on January 3rd 1986. He now lives with his mom in Takoma Park Maryland. Calvin is the man behind the infamous column Cal's Call. In addition to writing his column he enjoys playing sports including lacrosse and basketball … More »