Saints will play as visitors at home against Seahawks Friday

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 14, 2002

The Division Two state championship between Atlantic Shores and Nansemond-Suffolk Academy at 7 p.m. on Friday will be played at NSA. The Saints, however, will be the visiting team. They’ll be standing on the visitors’ sideline, and their fans will be sitting in the visitors’ bleachers.

The Seahawks rolled to a 10-0 regular season record (including a 35-7 drubbing of the Saints on Nov. 1) to gain &uot;home field&uot; advantage throughout the playoffs. But Virginia Independent Schools officials, citing limited seating and security concerns, ordered that the game be moved from the Sea-hawks’ Virginia Beach school. Norfolk Academy declined the option of hosting the game, and an agreement with Greenbrier Christian fell through over financial concerns.

Not that the Seahawks are complaining; last season, they ran roughshod over St Anne’s-Belfield for the state title at NSA.

Email newsletter signup

This time around, the Saints don’t want it to happen again.

&uot;They’re going to put Atlantic Shores pads on the goalposts, and they might even paint a Seahawks emblem in the end zone,&uot; said NSA sophomore defensive back Jeff Cooper as his team sloughed through a rainy Tuesday afternoon practice. &uot;If we come out hard and play hard for all 48 minutes, this should be a good game.&uot;

Coach Terry Crigger, who last week was awarded his second consecutive Tidewater Conference of Independent Schools football Coach of the Year award, envisioned a battle of biblical proportions.

&uot;This is going to be a real David vs. Goliath game,&uot; he said. &uot;We’re the little guys, but games like this are what champions are all about. When you’re playing against a team as big and strong as they are, it’s hard to find and exploit any weaknesses.&uot;

Tackle Nate Grover, a member of the 2000 team that brought a state title to NSA, knows how to stop his own team’s weaknesses. &uot;You can’t give anything to a team as good as them, so we can’t make any penalties,&uot; he said. &uot;If we plug up the holes on offense and keep them inside, we should be fine.&uot;

Last Friday night, Ryan Johnson scored in the third quarter to make the difference in NSA’s 13-12 victory over Lynchburg Christian. Tonight, he hopes to do it again.

&uot;Lynchburg expected to win, but we just ran all over them,&uot; Johnson said. &uot;That win really pumped us up. The line was really blocking well for me – every single time I got the ball, I’d go six or seven yards before I got hit.&uot;