Hayfield too much for Mount Vernon in football playoffs

Scoreboard after game showing 33-22 score

Hayfield coach Eric Henderson gave sophomore wideout Scott Woods about as good a compliment you can give a high school football player after the Hawks’ win over Mount Vernon on Friday night.

“He reminds me a lot of De’Mornay Pierson-El,” Henderson said, comparing his young receiver to one of the all-time best athletes to come out of the Richmond Highway area, a player that Henderson once coached during his time at West Potomac. “I think De’Mornay was just flat out faster from here to there, but Scott has all the moves and the instincts that De’Mornay did. He’s just a good football player, he really is.”

Woods showed just how dangerous he can be on Friday, scoring two third quarter touchdowns and snagging an interception on defense in the 33-22 opening round win over the Majors in the first round of the Occoquan Region playoffs. The victory advances the Hawks to the semifinals against the winner of Saturday’s Hylton-Freedom matchup.

Woods’s first touchdown showed the young player’s blazing speed, as he caught a short pass and turned it into a 40-yard touchdown to put Hayfield up 13-0 in the third quarter. The play broke open what had been a tight defensive battle up to that point, and was reminiscent of the two long touchdowns Woods scored against Mount Vernon in the Hawks’ regular season win over the Majors.

But Woods’s glory was short-lived. Officials didn’t like when he slowed down and jogged into the end zone, penalizing him for unsportsmanlike conduct and putting Woods in the crosshairs of an irate Henderson. Moments later, capitalizing on a drive at the 50 yard-line partly because of Woods’s penalty, Mount Vernon scored its first TD of the night on a 50-yard pass from junior quarterback Fonnae Webb to senior wideout Kofi Kwarteng.

Woods quickly made up for his penalty, and then some. On the next Hawks’ possession he finished a TD drive by taking a reverse 29 yards for a touchdown to make it 20-7. Then on the first play of Mount Vernon’s next offensive possession, Woods picked off a pass while playing safety, helping keep it a two-score game.

“He’s emerged as a legitimate playmaker,” Henderson said of Woods, who was second on the team in receptions (38) and first in receiving yards (686) in the regular season.

Recalling the wrath his penalty drew from Henderson, Woods could only smile after the game.

“He chewed on me, told me I put the team in a bad position,” Woods said. “And it was my fault. I had to take on the obligation to avenge it. Thank god I did.”

Woods’s scores were part of a second half scoring explosion after both teams struggled to gain traction in the first half. Hayfield junior quarterback Chase Soper hit senior wideout Tim Drummond-Wiggins for a 63-yard strike in the first quarter to go up 7-0. But the Hawks only advanced once more inside the red zone during the half, while Mount Vernon failed to threaten on any of its drives. Hayfield senior Willas Rouse recovered a fumble to lead the Hawks defense in the half, while Mount Vernon’s Anthony Mejia had a fourth-down sack to help pace the Majors.

But things shook loose in the second half, with Hayfield showing the array weapons that enabled the Hawks to runaway with the Gunston District title. Soper, who was voted the Gunston District Offensive Player of the Year after throwing for 18 touchdowns and running for 14 more, had another huge night. In the fourth quarter he hit his third TD pass of the evening, finding a wide open Drummond-Wiggins on 4th down for a 20-yard touchdown to push the lead to 33-14.

Mount Vernon battled back into the game in the last few minutes, largely thanks to the legs of Webb, whose ran for one TD and then hit Kwarteng a second time for the Majors’ third and final score.

Time ran out for the Majors though, who finished their best season in years — which included breakthrough wins over rivals West Potomac and T.C. Williams — at 8-3.

Hayfield improved to 10-1 for the first time since 1993, and remained unbeaten in games against Gunston District rivals since the district was created two years ago.

“We’ve got a lot of good football players here,” Henderson said after the game, crediting the offseason training the team put in for their success. “And a lot of these kids have worked into that.”