Briarwood pulls away from Homewood to clinch 2 seed

By GRAHAM BROOKS | Special to the Reporter

HOMEWOOD – A shutdown defense and a big second half paved the way for a solid win for the Briarwood Lions who clinched the No. 2 seed in the playoffs as they dismantled Homewood 28-6 on Friday, Oct. 23.

The Lions’ balanced offensive attack led to two touchdowns on the ground and two through the air as running back Luke Reebals had touchdown runs of 31 and 6 yards and quarterback Christopher Vizzina hooked up with Nicholas Dicen for a pair of touchdown passes as well.

“It’s one of those things where the more balanced you can be the harder it is for a defense,” Briarwood head coach Matthew Forester said. “So, with the receiving core doing a good job of running their routes… Eli Steadman is a route expert and Vizzina back there doing a really good job of finding the open guys and hitting them. So, it’s great when we can run block and pass block well.”

Homewood opened the game with a nice drive offensively but what became the theme of the game ended with the Briarwood defense holding the Patriots to a field goal inside the red zone.

The Lions gave up just one more field goal right before halftime and held Homewood scoreless in the second half and stopped the Patriots several times on fourth down the entire game.

“I was really proud of the defense,” Forester said. “They have great coaches and their players play hard, so we knew that they’d have some scheme things that they did well. Ultimately, tightening up in the red zone has got to be a key to defensive football and you’ve got to change the way you play when you get down there and the fact our guys were willing to do that and able to do that was a big accomplishment.”

The Lions held a slim 7-6 at the half thanks to the Reebals 31-yard touchdown run in the first quarter but most of the damage came after halftime.

After missing a field goal on the opening drive of the third quarter, Briarwood got the ball back after a big stop by the defense and they took advantage of the good field position.

Starting inside Homewood territory, Vizzina connected with Steadman for a huge conversion on third-and-18 that set up a 6-yard touchdown run from Reebals on the next play to make it 14-6 Lions.

In the fourth quarter, Vizzina kept his success through the air, throwing his first touchdown to Dicen on a post route for a 32-yard touchdown with 9:23 left in the game.

With the defense standing tall and stopping Homewood’s offense again, the exclamation point came with 6:57 left in the game as Vizzina rolled to the right selling a run. At the last moment, he dropped back and floated a perfect pass to Dicen who got behind the defense and raced 86 yards to the end zone to make it 28-6 Lions.

In addition to locking up the No. 2 seed in the region, the road win also clinched first round home field advantage for Briarwood in the playoffs.

“We get to host the first-round playoff game which we enjoy doing at Briarwood, and have been doing for a lot of years, so we’re excited about the opportunity,” Forester said.

Briarwood improved to 6-2 overall and will face Corner at home on Oct. 30 to finish the regular season.