The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

High School Sports

June 22, 2014

Defense leads South dominance

Cardinals force 4 turnovers, score on 2, in 46-26 win over North

CHARLESTON — Normally all-star football games are all about offense, with defense almost an afterthought.

The South Cardinals refused to play by those rules Saturday night in the North-South All-Star Classic.

The boys in red forced four turnovers — returning two for touchdowns — and turned a 14-13 halftime deficit into a 46-26 runaway, which wasn’t even that close.

“All week we focused on defense,” said Summers County’s Isaiah Brown, who ended the game with a South-best eight tackles and a pass breakup. “The other side didn’t even wear pads, but with the Greenbrier West coaches, they’re physical. We wanted to have a physical mindset and set the tone. We wanted to make a statement.”

Wahama’s Kane Roush did just that early in the third quarter, forcing a fumble and then picking up the loose ball and scampering 75 yards for a touchdown to give the South some breathing room, putting it ahead 26-14 on its way to its eighth straight win in the series.

“Earlier this week we worked on the scoop-and-score drill,” said Roush, who also returned a fumble 35 yards to help lock down MVP honors for the Cardinals. “It actually took place tonight.

“It was a good night for South football. We came out in the second half firing on all cylinders. We knew what we had to do, and we did it.”

Woodrow Wilson’s Chase Hancock played a part in the defensive dominance, as well, recording four tackles and returning an interception 20 yards to set up another South score.

“I saw him break, and I broke to the ball,” said the former Flying Eagles, who will walk on at Marshall next season. “As a safety, it’s my job to not get beat and be the cleanup man. That’s what I did.

“Our offense wasn’t really clicking, and in one of the breaks they said defense was going to win the game. That’s what we did.”

The offense eventually did click, aided by some area standouts.

Greenbrier West’s Malik Boatwright had a 58-yard punt return, catching the North Bears kicking team off guard.

“I saw them slacking, so I sort of snuck up on it,” said the undersized Cavalier. “I took that ball, and I was gone.

“I didn’t get the ball as much as I thought I would, so I couldn’t really prove anything. I had to take it on my own and grab the ball and go.”

Oak Hill’s Jalen Jones took advantage of a similar opportunity, taking a fourth-quarter carry 26 yards into the end zone for a score that put the South ahead 46-14.

“I turned the corner and I saw my boy D.J. Edwards take a block outside,” he said of the run. “So I cut inside, and all I had to do was use my speed. I turned the jets on, and I knew nobody was going to catch me.”

Both area quarterbacks also performed well. Nicholas County’s Tyler Sagraves was 5 for 11 for 99 yards and a touchdown while William & Mary-bound Isaiah Kinder of Greenbrier East completed 8 of 11 tries for 129 yards and two scores.

“It was a really good finish,” said Kinder, who will start classes and workouts next week. “I had good blocking up front, had receivers catch some balls and we were able to score some points and get another win. It was a really good experience. It’s cool how fast you can make friends with people who were once enemies.”

Huntington’s Nick Tubbs caught eight passes for 137 yards and was on the receiving end of both of Kinder’s touchdowns.

The North was led by MVP Zach Phillips, who completed 19 of 27 passes for 218 yards and three touchdowns. Kendell Smith caught seven passes for 120 yards and a score, and Anthony Bonamico caught five passes for 62 yards to go along with two kickoff returns for 52 yards.

In the end, though, the Cardinals made the plays when they needed them most.

“We always hear about the North, and we’re tired of that,” said Jones, who will play both football and basketball at Genesee (N.Y.) Community College this fall. “We wanted to come out and show them what we have to offer.”

— E-mail: chuffman@register-herald.com and follow on Twitter @CamHuffmanRH.

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