The reports of Woodberry Forest’s demise may have been greatly exaggerated.
“We’ve been doubted a lot this year, losing that really powerful senior class,” said Woodberry senior Jameel Wilson. “We just wanted to prove that we’re still Woodberry football.”
Mission accomplished. Woodberry blew open its clash with St. Christopher’s (2-1) early Saturday afternoon, rushing out to a 42-0 lead before withstanding an aerial assault by the Saints in the second half to win 49-28. In the process, they earned an early foothold in the Prep League title race.
The Tigers jumped out when Wilson raced 73 yards for a touchdown on a pass down the line of scrimmage from Will Wideman on the second play of the game.
Wilson, a multi-year starter for the Tigers (2-1), new exactly what that early big play meant and who’d help create it too. Woodberry’s offensive line washed people down from the opening snap, allowing for nearly 500 yards of total offense — 494 to be exact.
“One hundred percent the offensive line,” Wilson said. “Those guys work their butts off, they’re undersized compared to the offensive lines we’ve had the last couple of years but they work harder than anyone I’ve ever seen.”
The Tigers’ defensive front seven did its part too to spark the early explosion, with linebacker Davis Sherwood blasting through the middle of the St. Christopher’s formation on second and one of the Saints’ opening drive. The ball slipped out of Patrick Routsis’ hand as he came forward to throw and Sherwood picked it up essentially in stride on the scoop and score from 40 yards out that put Woodberry up 14-0.
“My defensive line just opened a big hole and let me get through, total team effort,” Sherwood said. “He dropped the ball, I just scooped and scored. The defensive line opened that up.”
St. Christopher’s did manage four sacks on the day, but they weren’t costly yards-wise and it seemed that Woodberry managed to recover each time or unleash a big play that offset it on another drive, like backup quarterback Ben Locklear’s first varsity snap that went for a 33-yard touchdown to Khalid Thomas and put the Tigers up 28-0. Thomas finished with five catches for 103 yards and two touchdowns. The first came in the first quarter when he caught the ball, fumbled it, picked up his own fumble and essentially walked into the endzone.
The first half onslaught continued after the back-to-back Thomas scores when Wideman unleashed a perfectly throw ball down the sideline to DeQuece Carter for a 67-yard catch and run for a touchdown. With more than nine minutes still to play in the first half, the Tigers were up 35-0 and rolling.
Wideman hit George Pettegrew for a 38-yard touchdown near the end of the second quarter to cap the 42-0 run to start the game.
St. Christopher’s came out of the locker room with a counterpunch, scoring 28 unanswered points thanks in large part to Routsis, who threw for 255 yards and three touchdowns, connecting with Will Hayes for touchdowns of 61 and 79 yards to open the second half.
But those lapses by the Woodberry secondary weren’t enough to get the Saints completely back into it, with Wilson icing the game with a 40-yard sprint to paydirt that included an acrobatic move down the sideline.
Wilson finished with 134 combined yards receiving and running while Carter went for 114 yards on four catches. Wideman was close to perfect behind center, going 13-for-17 for 316 yards and four touchdowns.
Defensively, Jack Curtice had five solo stops to lead the Tigers while Warren Matthews had a sack and Tucker Taylor picked up a fumble.
Woodberry gets a week off before taking on Paul VI in their next clash while St. Christopher’s will try and building on its second half momentum when they host Norfolk Academy next week.