Locals make Super Bowl picks

Published 8:40 pm Saturday, January 31, 2015

Widespread opinion is that Super Bowl XLIX is a “pick ‘em game,” meaning that it is evenly matched and both the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks are equally good picks, but Suffolk’s football coaches and players expressed a clear preference.

“I think Seattle’s going to win,” Nansemond River High School coach David Coccoli said.

The key reason he cited is the Seahawks defense, which has only given up 16.3 points per game this season. He also noted they run the ball well.

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“Usually that’s a recipe for success,” he said.

Bryan Potts, former coach of Lakeland High School and longtime defensive coordinator at King’s Fork High School, went into some detail as to why his pick is Seattle.

“The defense is what determines and controls the outcome of games and I think Seattle, that defensive secondary is so relentless and they do what they do so well that they don’t have to use an extra linebacker or anybody to drop in coverage,” he said.

“They can really load the box and get away with it and force teams to try to beat them with the pass,” he continued, adding that he does not see the New England Patriots beating them that way or with the run.

King’s Fork coach Joe Jones said he picked the Seahawks “because I like how they play.”

He noted they are physical and do not tend to mask anything on defense.

As an alum of Virginia Tech, Jones also likes Seattle because of its starting strong safety.

“Kam Chancellor’s a Hokie, and he’s a stud on their defense,” Jones said.

Nansemond-Suffolk Academy coach Lew Johnston initially said he thought the New England Patriots would win, though his heart was with Seattle, which features Chancellor, a Norfolk native, and quarterback Russell Wilson, who was born in Richmond.

But eventually Johnston changed his mind and said, “Head and heart with Seattle.”

He decided that additional time for preparation aids Seattle’s defense.

“They’ve had two weeks now to prepare,” he said, after noting the game will come down to Tom Brady versus the Seahawks secondary.

NSA junior linebacker Cole Christiansen said, “Seahawks all the way” to identify his pick.

He said he likes them because he’s a defensive guy, and “I like their aggressiveness and the way they fly to the football.”

Christiansen also said he has to support the local boys on their team.

His NSA teammate, senior fullback/defensive end David Gough, was one of the few to pick the New England Patriots.

“I just think they’re way, way better,” he said. “I don’t think it’s going to be that close either.”

He admitted that he picked the Denver Broncos to win last year, and they were blown out 43-8 by Seattle. But he said this year, all the Seahawks’ defensive backs seem like they are hurt, and he just thinks Tom Brady is too good.

Nansemond River sophomore linebacker Henry Moreno picked Seattle because of all the weapons they have on defense.

“Kam Chancellor can shut down (Rob) Gronkowski,” he said, referring to the Patriots’ talented tight end.

And when the Seahawks are on offense, “they’ve got Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson,” Moreno said, noting Wilson is a dual threat.

King’s Fork junior feature back Deshaun Wethington sees Seattle winning, not just because of its good defense, but also because “they’ve got experience,” having just endured the Super Bowl pressure last year.

Lakeland junior linebacker Monte Hillard said, “I want the Patriots to win,” but thinks the Seahawks and their Legion of Boom will be the victors.

Nansemond River senior quarterback/linebacker DeShon Saunders picked the Patriots to win, citing quarterback Tom Brady as being able to penetrate Seattle’s defense.

While Brady lost to Seattle in their last meeting in 2012 and has not been victorious in his last two visits to the Super Bowl, Saunders said, “I think Tom’s actually going to step up this time, and show people he’s the player that most people think he is.”

Lakeland senior running back Jordan Stokley picked the Seahawks due to their performance in the NFC championship game on Jan. 18.

They struggled for three quarters against the Green Bay Packers, but he said, they “kept fighting, and didn’t give up.”

King’s Fork senior defensive back Kane Miskel picked Seattle, but when asked why, he seemed to backtrack and said, “I really don’t know this time.”

Likely citing much of the Seahawks’ NFC title game performance, he said they have been playing like trash, but the Patriots, on the other hand, can’t win the Super Bowl, given their most recent losses to the Giants.

Ultimately, he pointed to Seattle’s run game as the key for him.

“Patriots’ defense can’t stop the run,” he said.

Super Bowl XLIX is set start at 6:30 p.m. tonight.