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BRUINS PULL AWAY LATE

Posted Sunday, November 10, 2013 by Virginiapreps.com

However, Western Branch would not deviate from its game-plan. They stuck to their persistent, between the tackles running game to eventually wear down King's Fork's defense in the second half. A 13-play, 69-yard drive in the fourth quarter and an 11-play, 68-yard drive in the third period proved to be the difference in a 41-28 come-from-behind win for the Bruins.

Of Western Branch's 71 offensive plays from scrimmage, 70 of them were runs by six different ball carriers. They finished with 394 yards rushing, giving them an area-best 3361 on the season in that department.

"That's not too shabby," admitted Western Branch Head Football Coach Greg Gibson afterwards. "It was a good old-fashion Southeastern District game between two very good football teams. Hat's off to King's Fork. Those are two good players in #4 (Deshaun Wethington) and #16 (Uriah Adams). But we've got good players, too. We did come out in the second half with a different purpose. It was a good, hard-fought win for our kids."

On Senior Night, the Bruins turned to a couple of 12thh graders in quarterback T.J. Boothe and running back Mondryl Glover lead the way on the ground.

Glover, who came in with 1200 yards on the season in his first year as a varsity starter, rushed for 134 yards and a touchdown on 24 attempts. He had a 56-yard touchdown late in the second quarter wiped away on a penalty. Boothe ran for 147 yards on 23 attempts and scored two touchdowns, including a pivotal one on fourth-and-goal from the two-yard line with 1:26 to ice the victory.

"We wanted it more. There have only been three teams in Western Branch history to go 9-1 and we wanted to be the fourth. Last year, we had our chance and blew it, so this year after the loss to Oscar Smith, we decided to go after 9-1," remarked Boothe, who's committed to play his College Football at Hampton University.

Leslie Wilde
Mondryl Glover continues to evolve as a tailback for the Bruins

Perhaps best of all for Western Branch on this night was that they were +1 in the turnover margin category after fumbling the ball nine times, losing four of them in last week's win over Nansemond River. This time, the Bruins only had a couple of fumbles, none lost, and committed just one turnover, which came on a Ty'Quan Weston interception right before the half.

"On Monday when we came out to practice, we were disappointed and it honestly was like we lost," added Boothe. "We came back to grind because last week was not Western Branch football."

After giving up 83 yards on nine carries to Wethington in the first half, the Bruins held the Bulldogs to just 58 yards rushing in the second half. Wethington, who came in with 1408 yards on the season, would gain only 19 yards on seven attempts in the second half.

King's Fork closes out the regular season at 7-3 overall and will be the #9 seed in the 4A-South playoffs, opening up at #8 seed Tabb. Meanwhile, Western Branch puts its 9-1 record on the line as the #3 seed at home next week against #6 seed Cox in the opening round of the 6A-South (East) playoffs.


Glover Evolving: At the start of the season, Glover was a relative unknown. He came to the Bruins as a track guy with dynamite speed, trying to learn to be a reliable running back. In very little time, he's become a bona-fide threat that moves forward and has home-run ability.

Of Glover's 23 rushes, 21 went for positive yardage and the other two were for no gain, so he didn't lose yardage on any carry.

"I just trust in my o-line, use my speed like my coaches told me to and let the rest happen from there. I also tried to use my elusiveness and make somebody miss," remarked Glover, who's becoming more comfortable with each week. "I constantly watch film because Coach Gibson makes us, and I try to get better."

Glover gives credit where credit is due, too. Afterwards, he gave props to his blockers, such as HU commit Thomas Coelman, D.J. Lanier, Cody Stuehm and Michael Cagle as well as tight end Sidney Wellons and fullback Sergio Gardner.

Gibson has seen plenty of growth and maturation in his go-to back, and expects big things from him in the postseason.

"He's really coming forward at the end of the year. You'll see plays in there where you're like, 'Where'd he go?' Then all of the sudden he pops through. He's doing a real good job of knifing in and finding just little slivers, and that's what I tell the backs," Gibson said.

Matthew Hatfield
Thomas Coleman and company controlled the line of scrimmage

"It's not always going to be gigantic three-foot holes every time you can run with your shoulders squared. It's going to be some where you've got to get skinny, and he's doing a real good job of reading the blocks, and the linemen are doing a good job of removing guys off the line of scrimmage."


Boothe Converts in the Clutch: There was four times that Western Branch faced fourth down on the evening. Every time, they came through by getting a fresh set of downs or scoring a touchdown. Much of that success can be attributed directly to Boothe, who has provided the Bruins with another rushing weapon since moving from wide receiver to QB.

"Adjusting to quarterback has been hard, but I tell my teammates, give me the ball, trust in me and I'll do the best I can," stated Boothe. "The defense had some struggles in the first much like the offense had our struggles for parts of the last game, but in the second half we were looking to ball out and I feel we did."

Directing the offensive in a phone booth style offense, Boothe is creating plays with his feet and not dwelling on his mistakes, such as his only pass of the night resulting in an interception. Instead, he bounced back from the miscue extended drives in crucial situations, plus was even willing to sacrifice his body by going airborne on a successful two-point conversion run.

"You've got to have a short memory, especially if you're playing quarterback. He's clutch," Gibson said of Boothe.

"I had a different play called on the fourth down. He's going, 'Coach, just give me the ball.' I told him, 'You score, it's over. You don' t score, we're in trouble because they've got guys that can go 99 yards in a second.' He took the ball and scored and is a phenomenal kid and real leader on the team."


Taking the Next Step: One thing Western Branch won't have to worry about entering the playoffs is having an identity. They want to pound the rock and pound the opposition into submission, create scoring opportunities via takeaways with their defense and play ball-control.

Rod Johnson
T.J. Boothe and Western Branch will try to take that 'next step' in the playoffs

Although the Bruins have yet to throw for over 100 yards in any game this season, there's no concern about being a two-dimensional attack because that one dimension that's their strong suit is mighty tough to stop.

"I watched Oregon and Stanford play, and like the announcers were saying Stanford's inviting Oregon down in the phone booth and let's play some ball. Oregon knows what's coming - - six offensive linemen, three tight ends, tailback, fullback," Gibson pointed out.

"When people talk about balance, I tell them balance is being able to throw when you want to throw, and being able to run when you want to run. Regardless of it's 90/10, 50/50, I mean I've said a lot of teams be 50/50 and get beat 50-0. I learned that a long time ago. Balance is being able to do what you want to do when you want to do it, and the kids did a good job of executing that tonight."

In 6A-South, the clear-cut favorites to come out of the East bracket and seriously contend for a state title are Ocean Lakes and Oscar Smith, who the Bruins suffered their lone loss on the season to date to, 27-13 back in September.

Western Branch is a good team that aspires to be great. What will it take for them to make that next step?

"In order to be great, we lose egos. It's all about the team and not about I," believes Boothe. "We have a lot of different running backs and a lot of different people that can contribute. Once we get the mentality of as long we get the yards no matter who's getting them, we'll be fine. And we have a chance."


Postgame Audio with Western Branch Coach Greg Gibson


Final Stats:

Western Branch Bruins 41: (9-1 Overall)
T.J. Boothe - - 23Car. 147Yds. TD; 0-1TD/Int. ratio
Mondryl Glover - - 23Car. 134Yds. TD
Corey Gray - - 12Car. 62Yds. 3TD's
Eugene Summerville - - 5Car. 39Yds.
Jeremiah Young - - 6 Tackles, 0.5TFL
Keith Howard - - 5 Tackles (3 Solo), TFL
Davion Taylor - - 4 Tackles (3 Solo), TFL, INT, FR

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