Briarwood shuts out Woodlawn, improves to 3-1

By CAYDEN STURGES | Special to the Reporter

NORTH SHELBY – Briarwood came into Friday night, Sept. 11th on a mission to improve to 3-1 on the young season. It was safe to say that the Lions achieved that goal with a dominating 43-0 region win against Woodlawn.

Before the game began, captains from both Woodlawn and Briarwood held a touching ceremony to honor the victims of the 9/11 attacks 19 years ago. Captains from each team met at midfield with American flags before the usual invocation and anthem.

Briarwood Principal Shawn Brower summed it up best when he said “Woodlawn and Briarwood have different names, different logos, and different mascots, but tonight we both have the same colors, red, white and blue.”

Once the play on the field began, Briarwood didn’t waste any time getting off to an early lead. Two minutes in, Christopher Vizzina found Eli Steadman on a 25-yard touchdown.

While Briarwood’s first drive was a success, Woodlawn’s was the opposite. A fumbled snap on the first play of the drive pinned the Colonels back on their own 1-yard line. On the very next play, Luke Hand made a tackle behind the line of scrimmage to force a safety that gave the Lions a nine-point lead.

On the ensuing drive, Briarwood only needed one play to find the end zone. Sawyer Tindall took the handoff around the right side of the formation for a touchdown. After the missed extra point, only three minutes were gone off the clock, but the Lions led 15-0.

Briarwood’s defense forced a Colonel punt where Nicholas Dicen broke the game wide open. Dicen caught the punt on his own 45-yard line with two yellow helmets in his face. Dicen broke the first tackle and started to his right before reversing course to find an alley of green grass to his left. Dicen was able to walk in untouched, thanks to a wall of Briarwood blockers, to give the Lions a 22-point lead.

Junior running back Luke Reebals finished the offensive outburst in the first quarter by taking the ball up the gut for a 55-yard touchdown run for a 29-0 lead through one quarter of play.

Briarwood was dominant in the trenches and could easily create holes for the Lion running backs to burst through. Guards Carson Mckeen and Harrison Clemmer were consistently able to push defenders four or five yards off the line of scrimmage.

Briarwood was good in every facet of the game, but the Lions were excellent at blocking. After another defensive stop, the Lions’ offensive line opened up another hole. This time, Cooper Higgins took the ball up the middle for a quick 6-yard touchdown to give Briarwood a 35-point lead.

While the Briarwood offense didn’t score for the rest of the night, the defense was determined to hold Woodlawn scoreless.

Late in the first half, junior defensive back, Hadden Stubbs read the play well and was able to jump in front of an underthrown pass. After intercepting the ball, Stubbs took it 55 yards to the house to give the Lions a 43-point lead at halftime. Jake Scott intercepted another pass in the dwindling minutes of the fourth quarter.

“We always talk about trying to make Briarwood the best team they can be,” Briarwood head coach Matthew Forester said after the win. “We focus on ourselves. This was a good week of work. The guys bought in and did what they were supposed to do. We are grateful for just how hard they worked during the week, and I’m glad we were able to show it tonight.”

Though Briarwood had an insurmountable lead, both teams kept fighting and were able to get younger guys some playing time. Even though Woodlawn kept fighting, Briarwood cruised to a 43-0 shutout victory after a gigantic first half.