By BRUCE W. SINGLETON, CJ Correspondent
Some wins are so sweet you just want to savor them in your mouth like a sip of crisp apple cider.
When the Somerset Briar Jumpers walked off the field with the regional title and a 31-7 win over the Danville Admirals, last night it was that kind of win.
It was the fourth straight regional title for Somerset. It marks a perfect record for Coach Robbie Lucas, whose teams have won 47 out of the 56 games they have played in those 4 years. And for the fourth time in four years, Somerset is in the final four.
Somerset has now done it in two classes: twice in 3A; twice in 2A.
And they are only 2 games away from being the last team standing: a feat the Somerset football team has never done in the 104 years they have played football.
From the beginning of the game, it appeared the Admirals would make this into a far closer game that the two teams played on October 5. Indeed, both quarterbacks seemed to have a great deal of trouble controlling the ball on the exchange from center.
But Somerset’s Castle Hatcher took control.
Danville’s Devonta Alcorn didn’t.
The loss certainly had to come to a shock to both Coach Sam Harp and Coach Marshall Ray Graham, who spoke with more than a small amount of contempt about the Briar Jumpers in interviews with the Danville Advocate Messenger earlier this week.
Hatcher, one can glean from reading that story, is too short to play.
Tonight, he was about Seven Foot Twelve as he threw for three touchdowns, ran the ball when he was expected to throw it, and sinply played tough and gutsy football. Oh yes, did I happen to mention he is a freshman?
Somerset also got another sterling performance from Cam Cheuvront, who caught two touchdown passes and another that may have been the finest high school catch we have ever seen from the Somerset pressbox. Every one of us in the pressbox, maybe everyone in the stadium, expected it to be an interception, but Cam Cheuvront reached across the defender, snatched the ball from the front of his face, cradled it into his arms and crumpled to the ground.
And just when we thought there would be no more scoring, up pops Jalen Jones with the pick six from the 32 after Danville’s Devonta Alcorn was forced to throw the ball late in the game. It was not a case of adding insult to injury: it was just good, hard football.
But the star of the ball game was not just one player. It was the hard-nosed Somerset defense, which held Danville to only 158 yards of total offense on the night. Even Danville’s sole score was a gift: the Jumper punt hit a Somerset player in the helmet, popped into the air, and came to rest on the Somerset 10. Four plays later, Danville’s Jawan Grey waltzed into the end zone.
That error and the subsequent interception seemed at the time to give Danville new life; new momentum. At the 4:52 mark, Danville’s Jawan Grey ran the ball for what was apparently a 65-yard touchdown. But a block in the back penalty brought the ball back.
Seconds before, Danville had been so hot, you would have sworn Nero was playing his fiddle.
After the play, Danville could do nothing more to help its own cause. A fumble in the backfield gave Castle Hatcher the opportunity to try the scoop and score, the interception that Tyler Megargel made, but doesn’t get credit for because of a roughing the passer penalty, and of course, the neat little interception that Jalen Jones took to the house.
Ever the gentleman in victory and defeat, Coach Robbie Lucas once again praised his adversary.
“We made some plays against some teams earlier in the year, but they are not the caliber of the Danville team we beat tonight,” he said. “There are athletes all over the field for Danville. Coach Harp is a Hall of Fame coach. He is one of the people that I look up to. He is kind of an idol that I reckon I strive for. He is a class act and so is the Danville program.”
And about his players, who seem to play more in the moment than most high school teams any of us have ever seen?
“We tell these kids just play the next play,” he said. “Win the next play. If we go for a touchdown on a play, play the next play like you are down a touchdown. We simply want to try to push through.”
But the next game is the most important thing to think about right now.
“This is going to sound conceited,” Lucas said, “and please don’t take it that way. But we have been here before. I would like to go ahead and push through northern Kentucky and that’s going to be tough. We need to get back in, and continue to work week to week.”
Somerset will host Newport Central Catholic on the day after Thanksgiving. NewCath handily beat a very talented Walton-Verona team 49-14 last night. They will come into the Briar Patch with a 9-4 record, but they have not lost a game since September and can be expected to be a hand full. The last time the Thoroughbreds came to town, both teams were in Class A. NewCath beat Somerset 40-24. They went from The Briar Patch to Louisville and the State Championship game.
There, they beat Danville.
It was the last time Danville has been to the State finals.
Danville 0 0 7 0 – 7
Somerset 3 7 7 14-31
Somerset — Chandler Dobbs 25 FG 3:44
Somerset — Tyson Williams 10 pass from Castle Hatcher (Dobbs kick) 2:21
Somerset — Cam Cheuvront 26 pass from Hatcher (Dobbs kick) 11:02
Danville — Jawan Grey 4 run (Damir Karapandzic kick) 8:10
Somerset — Jalen Jones 32 INT (Dobbs kick), 3:04
RUSHING—Danville Jawan Grey 6-21 (1TD), Devonta Alcorn 10-45, Tyquan Matthews 1-2, Olyjawan Ford 6-37, Jadarius Brown 2-6, Ray Bradshaw 1-0, Stephen Ray 1-27
Somerset, Will Lange 16-56, Tanner Gadberry 3-0, Castle Hatcher 8-43, Bryson Jones 3-0, Brysen McWilliams 1-3, Tyson Williams 1-4, Team minus 4
PASSING—Danville: Devonta Alcorn 4-13-19 (1 INT)
Somerset: Castle Hatcher 7-16-204 (3TD 1 INT)
RECEIVING—Danville-- Ace Ray 3-5, Cody Woolridge 1-14
Somerset, Cam Cheuvront 3-82 (2TD), Tyson Williams 1-10 (1TD), Bryson Jones 3-112
KICK RETURNS – Danville Ace Ray 1-2, Jawan Grey 1-7
Somerset—Cheuvront 1-39, Will Lange 1-35
INTERCEPTION RETURN –Somerset: Jalen Jones 1-32 (1TD)