CCS improves to 3-0
A stellar running performance by senior tailback Jordan Wallace lifted Christchurch School over North Cross 35-7 on Saturday, giving the Seahorses a share of the number one spot in the VISFA Division 2 poll.
Wallace carried 18 times for 204 yards and 3 touchdowns. Quarterback Alex Girvan completed 8 of 12 passing attempts for 92 yards. One was a 24-yard scoring strike to Brendan Cole.
Girvan has been very solid, with a TD pass in each game and no interceptions to date.
Christchurch travelled to Charlottes-ville to play North Cross, an independent school in Roanoke. The halfway meeting spot is likely to remain as North Cross has become the newest member of the Old Dominion Football Conference (ODFC), the most successful conference in Division 2. “With our schools being close to five hours apart, we all felt it best to meet them at St. Anne’s in Charlottesville,” said CCS coach Ed Homer.
North Cross has been in the D3 state playoffs several times over the past few years, and since the VISFA began the playoff system in 1990, its has consistently been a strong contender.
Last Saturday however, North Cross dressed just 21 players to Christchurch’s 28, and that may have been the difference. Both teams started relatively young teams, but the CCS ball carriers had the edge.
Several key plays made the difference for the Seahorses. Besides the legs of Wallace and the arm of Girvan, Christchurch was bolstered by the hands of a selfish defensive backfield. In the second quarter, with the score tied 7-7, a long fade route to an apparently open receiver on the North Cross sidelines was ripped away by CCS junior cornerback Justin Peebles. Homer described the interception as “picture perfect.” Peebles had distinguished himself last week with a crucial pass break-up in the CCS win over Nansemond Suffolk. This time, he turned a promising Raider drive into a disheartening return to defense.
CCS promptly drove for the above-mentioned Girvan-Cole touchdown pass.
Another ball hawk for the Seahorses Saturday was senior safety Calvin Strong. He picked off 2 Raider passes, and had 9 tackles in the game. Together with Cole, Strong is helping CCS play a more versatile defense than in past years. With so little experience up front, the team is counting on the defensive backs to be in on more run support, and so the two senior safeties are playing more like linebackers. To date, this has paid off as the young team is seeing success many thought unlikely after graduating so many starters from the 2011 state championship team.
Senior linebacker Parker Byrd was at the top of the tackle list for Christchurch, getting part of 11 stops.
The Christchurch kicking game is riding on the feet of seniors Davis Horbal and Duncan Morris. Horbal kicks off and punts, while Morris handles the PAT and field goal duties. Morris has missed just one and also had one blocked this year. His 9 of 11 tries is the best kicking start Christchurch has had since Urbanna’s Scott Heyman kicked the Seahorses into the 2006 state finals. For his part, Horbal, who starts at defensive end and wide receiver, has had no punts blocked, and is consistently trapping returners inside their 20-yard line this year.
Saturday’s game proved to be beneficial from a building perspective. Fullback and linebacker Braeden Rosell delivered his regular, bruising contributions, but he and the other starting linebackers also got off the field in the fourth quarter, as Christchurch held a commanding lead.
Junior running back Wyatt Wood came up big with 36 yards on 5 carries, while senior linebacker Brendan McCarthy came up with 4 big tackles and a pass break-up.
Christchurch will take their 13-game win streak on the road to Fork Union Military Academy on Friday, September 21, to take on the Blue Devils. Fork Union is 3-1 this year, losing only on opening day to Richmond’s Hermitage High School on national television (ESPN). Playing a school so much larger is no longer such a stretch for the Seahorses, as VISFA now awards points to smaller schools for “playing up.” FUMA will most likely prove to be the toughest opponent the Fighting Seahorses will face all year. The game starts at 3:30 p.m. in Fork Union.