Bird tops the Central Region, Yahkee eclipses 2K yards

It was business as usual for the L.C. Bird Skyhawks Friday, as they finished their season at a perfect 10-0, defeating Midlothian by a score of 41-0 in Dominion District football action.
The win secured their seat as the top seed in the Division 6 regional playoffs. A major milestone was also reached, as Bird’s Yahkee Johnson rushed for 174 yards against Midlothian, bringing his season total to 2,001 yards. The team also employed the stifling defense Bird fans have been accustomed to all season.

James Simmons outruns a Midlothian defender. Simmons scored Bird’s first touchdown of the night.“It was an all around great effort by the team and our defense,” said Bird head coach David Bedwell. “And these kind of performances are the type our defense has put up all year.”
That Bird defense limited the Trojans to -1 total yard and started off quickly, as a Jamil McGinnis’ interception interrupted Midlothian’s first drive.
Bird struck first offensively in the game on an 8-yard run by senior James Simmons; a blocked extra point by Midlothian’s Kaash McElroy put the score at 6-0.

The next two Midlothian drives would end with interceptions, as well, as Cavalier-to-be Ant Harris picked off a pass, and McGinnis picked off his second ball of the first half.
After McGinnis’ second interception, he played the other side of the ball equally well, hauling in a 30-yard touchdown reception from Harris. A two-point conversion by Johnson extended the lead to 14.

After a Midlothian punt, Bird got the ball back with 1:42 left on the clock in the half; the team went to the passing game, as Harris connected on four of five passing attempts, including a 41-yard catch by McGinnis that set up the next play, an 18-yard score.
Midlothian attempted to run a play in hopes of breaking a big one, but running back Taylor Stout lost the ball and it was recovered by Bird defensive back Torian Bland.

The Skyhawks led 21-0 at the half.

The yak about Yahkee Johnson and 2,000 yards was apparent on the sideline. He needed just 55 yards for 2,000 at the start of the second half. He wasted no time putting that to bed; on the first play from scrimmage in the second half, Johnson took off on a spectacular 56-yard run to extend the lead and his school record, and achieve a major milestone as a junior.

“This was one of my goals at the beginning of the season,” said Johnson. “I’m proud to have gotten here. I want to thank my line, and my teammates for their continued hard work in practice.”

Midlothian came out in the second half able to move the ball a bit better. But, their longest sustained drive, 35 yards, came to an end as another Jimmy Whitten pass fell into the hands of a Skyhawk defender. It was Bland again, with his second big defensive play.

Bird added two more scores in the game on a 46-yard pass to Tyrek Branch and a 10-yard run by Devin Delbridge.

Bird forced five turnovers, four interceptions and one fumble. Bird also got to the quarterback three times, with Deon Clark, Warren Graham and Will Lawing each recording a sack.

After the game, Bedwell stressed to the team that it was crunch time, and it was time to do whatever it took to get the win. Bedwell also brought up a notable stat: No Bird team that has gone undefeated in the regular season with a 10-0 record has ever gone to 11-0. This year’s Bird team hopes to be the first. This was Bird’s 10th straight Dominion District title, and 12 of the past 13 district crowns have been theirs.

“The continued success says a lot about the caliber of kids we have here at Bird,” said Bedwell. “We have graduated at least 30 seniors pretty much every year since I’ve been here and these guys keep coming in and stepping up.”

The Skyhawks will face Highland Springs Friday; the game will kickoff at 7:30 p.m. The Springers finished the regular season with a record of 7-4 overall, 3-3 in district play, and is coming off a 20-12 loss to Varina, who qualified as the No. 3 seed in the regional tournament. Tickets are on sale through the Bird Athletic Director’s office.

Thomas Dale and Matoaca wrapped up their seasons Friday, playing each other in a game at Thomas Dale. Despite trailing 20-7 at the half, Thomas Dale came back to defeat the Warriors by a final score of 29-26.

Thomas Dale finished out the season with a 5-5 record overall, and 4-3 in the Central district. Playmakers for the Knights were seniors Demetric Jackson and Tyler Leimburger. Jackson recorded 10 tackles, and took an interception to the house for a touchdown. Leimburger recorded 17 tackles and also picked off a pass of his own. Matoaca finished its season 3-7 overall and 3-4 in the Central District. Matoaca will return most of its players next year, so it figures to be a possible contender in 2011.

Meadowbrook finished its season with a tough loss to Petersburg, 22-21. A missed field goal on the final play of the game ended the Monarchs’ season. The evening included another strong performance by Mico Phillips, who finished the season as the Central Region rushing champ, amassing 2,026 yards. With the win, Petersburg qualified for the Division 5 regional playoffs. | 751-0421


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