Bayside Bounces Back:Only a couple weeks ago, the Bayside Marlins suffered
as humbling a loss as a team could have.Ranked #1 in the state before the season, they fell fast in the rankings
and did so with a thud, losing 31-6 to rival Salem.Football fans all across Tidewater began to
chirp about their demise, handing the regional crown they won last year to
other teams and crossing the Marlins off the list as potential contenders.
Needing a marquee win to erase any doubt and silence
some of the critics, Bayside came through in the matinee of a double-header
Friday night at the Virginia Beach Sportsplex,
defeating the Ocean Lakes Dolphins 26-21 in front a packed crowd.
Crisp and efficient was the offense in piling up 287
total yards, effectively methodical at times, too.Defensively, the Marlins delivered some big
hits and came up with three takeaways, including a pivotal strip-sack by Daquan Lee of quarterback Corwin Cutler in the closing minutes of
the second quarter that led to a touchdown sneak by Marlins junior signal
caller Deion Stittto give his team a 19-7 lead.
"We came out the first week and I guess we let being
ranked #1 in the state go to our heads.We just had to find the inner strength as a team, come out here and
work, and that's what we're doing for the rest of the season," said Bayside
senior WR/DB Anthony Cooper, a
University of Virginia commit who finished with five receptions for 88 yards
and a touchdown, plus recorded three tackles on defense.
"We know Ocean Lakes is going to come hard every year.They've got some good players, and tonight we
were able to execute when we needed.We're
not even all the way back yet.We've
still got people roughed up and injured, so once we get all the way back, we
should be back and rolling."
Cooper wasn't the lone ACC and soon-to-be UVA player on
the field as he went up against future teammate Eli Harold, a wideout and defensive end
for the Dolphins that did a little bit of everything in an effort that came up
just short.Harold caught seven balls
for 76 yards, ran four times for five yards out of the Wildcat formation, threw
his first career touchdown on an eight-yard strike to A.J. Reynoso, and on defense had seven
tackles, two for loss, a sack and a quarterback pressure.
Junior signal caller and Indian River transfer Corwin Cutlershowed some poise,
accuracy and a live arm in the pocket for the Dolphins, completing 18 of 32
passes and a touchdown to Reynoso.However, the Bayside
defense came up with the timely takeaways, including an interception by
freshman Devin Broadnaxon a tipped ball in the back of the end zone by Quin Blanding, who picked off Cutler on the game's first pass.
Bayside Head Coach
Darnell Moore wasn't one to allow some of the comments by outsiders to
bring his football team down further.Instead, they faced the adversity head on, and appear to be making
progress in their two wins since the blowout loss in the opener.
"I don't know the negative things.I'm sure some things have been said," remarked
Moore."I tell them at the beginning of
the year when we start the season out that their friends are the ones who are
going through the same things that they're going through.That's the guys on the football field, and
their family, and the heck with everybody else."
Scoring Play (Bayside vs.
run, PAT Magee good
8-yard pass to Reynoso, PAT van Reesema
18-yard pass to Cooper, two-point try failed
run, two-point try failed
run, PAT van Reesema good
run, PAT Magee good
Cutler 26-yard pass to Reynoso, PAT van Reesema good
Gutsy Performance by Junior RB:In a game that was littered with Division
I College Football prospects all over the field, perhaps the MVP of the
showdown was Bayside Class of 2013 RB Taquan 'Smoke' Mizzell, someone that already holds offers from such
schools as Virginia, Virginia Tech, Vanderbilt, Purdue, NC State and East
Following a sophomore campaign where he rushed for 1475
yards and 20 touchdowns, Mizzell opened his junior
year with 274 yards and four touchdowns in two games.Smoke went on to rush for 142 yards and a
pair of touchdowns on 32 carries against an Ocean Lakes defense that made him
have to earn it, especially in the second half in this physical matchup.
"We knew we weren't going to be able to break off the
long ones every time he touched the ball.It was going to be a grind-it-out thing, and it was going to be tough,"
Moore pointed out.
gained 96 of his yards on 16 attempts during the first half of play.In the fourth quarter, Mizzell
went out during a key series to heal an injury.Bayside faced a fourth-and-goal, trying to extend their lead to two
possessions, when Coach Moore called for a time-out.That gave Smoke a little extra time to be
able to get back on the field and punch in another touchdown.
"I just tried to stay in the game, get yard by yard,
and knew it would eventually open up for me some time," said Mizzell."I ended up
twisting my ankle a little bit, and didn't want to show them I was hurt, but I'm
good now and glad we were able to pull this one out.Just like last year, this was a real big game
for us and a battle."
Key Conversions:Stitt completed
some big passes in critical situations, none bigger than the ones on third down
to Cooper.It was one of Cooper's better
performances to date.
Cooper hauled in three passes on third down alone, two
of which moved the chains.
"Those were huge," admitted Stitt."Without those, we would've turned the ball
over to them and you never know what they would've done with the ball, maybe
scored and took the lead.Those third
and fourth down plays were definitely huge, and you've got to have trust."
Taitano Makes Presence Felt:Without the presence of 6-foot-1, 278-pound senior
two-way lineman Derek Taitano, an All-Beach District First Team performer a
season ago,in their first two games
against Salem and Green Run, the Marlins' line play wasn't quite where it
needed to be to live up to some of the expectations put on them at the start of
Compounding problems was an injury to starting
sophomore center Raphael Shields,
whogot hurt in the first half of the
loss to Salem.That made the entire
o-line have to adjust, and the protection wasn't too sharp as Stitt got sacked upwards of 12 times through the season's
first two games.
play on the defensive line was felt greatly early in the game, and he went on
to post eight tackles, two sacks and constantly pushed the pocket on an Ocean
Lakes line that is more than serviceable blocking up front.His teammates were glad to see him back.
"He's a big part of this team and a captain coming in,
so we missed him," Mizzell noted.
One of the questions that swirled throughout the
off-season regarding Bayside how they would replace 2010 Gatorade State Player
of the Year Demetrious Nicholson, who's now a starting cornerback as a true
freshman for UVA.It wasn't as much how
they'd replace his playmaking, but rather the leadership he provided.Big men in the trenches like Taitano and Michael
Phillips, a senior who holds offers from Navy and Hampton University, are
two of the players they have turned to in Nicholson's absence to now show the
way in big games.
"We needed that.Leaders are supposed to lead.That's
what they're supposed to do," said Moore."They were already motivated for it, going up against Eli, who's an
excellent ball-player, and they were really pumped."
The Bayside o-line featuring Phillips, Taitano, guards Jordan
Rubamaand RhyheemNorfleet, and freshman Elijah Alford appears to have better
chemistry and continuity, something that'll definitely help the Marlins offense
light up the scoreboard as the season goes on.
"Elijah Alford, that's a 14-year-old freshman, and the
other guys are growing in their confidence," commented Moore."They're working really hard, and
concentrating on things we're trying to get them to do, so they can't help but
Marlins Youngsters Stepping Up:Numerous
freshmen and sophomores played in this game, which bodes well for the future for
both Ocean Lakes and Bayside football.
Headlining the Class of 2014 for Bayside is Blanding, a
player that started as a freshman and was a significant factor in the game with
six tackles, a pass breakup, interception and then a couple of catches on
offense.His potential is limitless,
"We have to increase our depth a little bit more.I want to get Quin
off the field some on offense.I really
want to play him at split-end, but he's so valuable at tight end.If anybody's looking at film, when Eli was on
his side he did a heck of a job blocking, and anybody else they put over there,"
said Moore."He's such a good blocker
that it's hard to take him out.We've
devised some ways to get him the ball from the tight end spot."
Another key ingredient to the success was Broadnax, someone that got thrown into the fire game one as
a ninth grader.Broadnax
(5-foot-9) had the task of covering Harold (6-foot-3) much of the night, and
for the most part, held his own against a prospect ranked in the Top 100 in the
"Like we tell him every week we're going to put him on
the best receiver they've got, and he's got to be the man to step up and do his
thing.They're going to come at him
every week, and he's got to prove a point that he can check," noted Cooper.
"We had Tra (Nicholson) last
year," said Stitt, "and his biggest motivator is just
making a name for himself."