Briarwood defense stifles Chelsea in region win

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

CHELSEA – On the backs of Tyler Waugh and Parker Hutson, the Briarwood Lions went into Chelsea on Friday, Sept. 4, and took away a region win by a final score of 20-3.

The Lions got two touchdowns from Waugh for the second week in a row and churned the clock in the second half with two big pass plays to Brooks Donnelly adding another score for the victory, as Briarwood opened region play in the 6A classification with a win. 

“Any time you get to beat a rival it’s a big thing, and then any time you get a region win, it’s a big thing, especially in 6A,” Briarwood head coach Matthew Forester said. “The higher up you go, the tougher each week is. I’m proud of the players and just how hard they battled to come out victorious.”

The physical hard-nosed battle between the two rivals started as expected in the first half with good defense and strong running of the football, leading to a close contest at the half.

The Lions got the ball first and made quick work of the Hornets’ defense on the opening drive. Starting at the Chelsea 45-yard line following a long return from Luke Reebals.

A 20-yard pass put Briarwood quickly in wildcat offense territory. The Lions first brought in linebacker Parker Hutson, who reeled off an 18-yard run and a 6-yard run in consecutive play. Then, fellow linebacker Tyler Waugh came in and finished the short drive off with a 5-yard touchdown plunge to give the Lions a 7-0 lead in the first two minutes of the game.

“The two of them do a great job,” Forrester said. “We talked all offseason how they need to be in shape to play both sides of the ball. They’re committed to spending extra time and putting in extra time to be on top of their game both offensively and defensively.”

The Hornets, however, quickly followed up that drive with an exhausting first drive against a physical Briarwood defense.

Behind several strong runs from Collier Blair, including a 7-yard fourth-down run, and a couple of big plays from Adam Reaves and Holton Smith, Chelsea (1-2, 0-1) got in easy field goal range.

After a few runs of no gain inside the 10-yard line, Alex Trout came out and nailed a 22-yard field goal to put three points on the board for the Hornets, who trailed 7-3 with 2:04 left in the opening quarter following the 17-play drive.

After that, there were a couple of three-and-outs, Chelsea had a field goal blocked from 30 yards and both teams played the field position battle with no points the remainder of the half.

Coming out in the second half, the offensive struggles continued for Chelsea, but Briarwood was able to find a rhythm offensively.

Just like the first half, the Lions scored within the first three minutes of the second half after Waugh made a big defensive play ripping the ball from Blair and then falling on it to give the Lions the ball at the Chelsea 21-yard line.

After a couple more runs from Hutson, Waugh punched in his second touchdown of the night from 3 yards out after recovering the fumble a few plays earlier.

Following more strong play defensive play, the Lions got the ball back one more time with five minutes left in the third quarter and put together a long drive that continued at one point thanks to a 41-yard pass from Christopher Vizzina to Brooks Donnelly. A couple plays later, those two connected on a13-yard touchdown for what became the final score in the game.

“The offense did a great job,” Forrester said. “We had a few things where we shot ourselves in the foot, but in the second half, the offense really committed at halftime to say we’re going to play Briarwood football and they really did. I’m proud of how hard they played.”

Briarwood closed the game with an 18-play drive that ate the final 8:50 off the clock.

The Lions held Chelsea to 138 yards of total offense, while Alastair Harris and Parker Hutson each had seven tackles to lead the Lions’ defense.

Offensively, Briarwood got two touchdowns from Waugh and one from Donnelly. Vizzina totaled 151 yards passing with a touchdown.