Dresden grabs semifinal spot by the ’Horns
Posted: Wednesday, November 23, 2011 12:02 pm
Dresden’s road shows rolls on.
Next stop: Adamsville.
The Lions will make their fourth road trip of the TSSAA Class 2A State Playoffs — into the semifinal round, by the way — this week following an impressive 32-12 beat-down of Westwood in Memphis on Friday night.
“This is great,” said Dresden head coach Scott Hewett, who will retire after the season. “Let’s just keep rocking and having fun. This is the first time I’ve ever played at Thanksgiving, and now we’re going to play right through it.”
Dresden’s march through the postseason has been impressive, and now it’s beginning to pile up some equally impressive school marks.
The Lions are in the semifinals for the first time since 1970, when there were fewer classifications and rounds, and passed that ’70 team for most wins in a season in the playoff era (since 1969) by winning their 11th game of the season.
The 2011 Dresden team is now 11-2, while Ron Lewellen’s 1970 team won all 10 of its regular season games before losing in the playoffs. Dresden has now won three playoff games in a season for the first time in school history, its fourth postseason game in a year also a first for the program.
Dresden will travel to Adamsville, which knocked off Riverside 21-7, for its semifinal game the day after Thanksgiving, kickoff set for 7 p.m.
“Adamsville is a good team,” Hewett said. “We’ve heard that all year long, so it’s going to be a good challenge.”
The Lions reached this point with a sterling effort on the fake grass at recently renovated Crump Stadium, near downtown Memphis. Dresden did what it does best while keeping the speedy Longhorns from doing their thing.
Senior quarterback Gatlin Hatchel again ignited the Dresden offense, directly in on 36 of his team’s 60 offensive snaps (21 rushes and 15 pass attempts) and accounting for 223 of the Lions’ 321 yards (101 rushing; 122 passing). He also accounted for three of Dresden’s five touchdowns — two rushing and one passing. Hatchel completed 11 of his 15 passes.
“Gatlin always does great job,” Hewett said. “He puts the weight on his shoulders and does a great job with it.”
Dresden had 14 plays of 10 or more yards and racked up 19 first downs.
The Lion defense was just as impressive.
Following the lead of Eric VanDyke, the team’s leading tackler for the season who seemed to be in on or near every Westwood offensive play, Dresden shut down the Longhorns’ athletes to just 203 total yards on 47 plays.
“I tell you, he was possessed,” Hewett said of VanDyke. “I told him at halftime that I’d never seen anything quite like that first half he had. I told him if he’d have a second half like that, it would be phenomenal. He was everywhere.”
Dresden stopped Westwood behind the line of scrimmage seven times while allowing the Longhorns’ skill players to get loose for gains of more than 10 yards only five times, including the game’s first touchdown.
Dresden picked off three of Jerome Gilkey’s passes — two by Hatchel and one by Devan Raymer. Gilkey had as many interceptions as he did completions on his 14 throws. His only completions in the second half, in fact, were to Lion defenders.
Gilkey came into the game with over 1,400 passing yards but was held to just 52 by the Lions. Running back Randy Chambers had over 800 yards coming in but managed just 49 yards on 12 carries.
“Their coaches did a great job preparing them for this game,” Westwood coach Anthony Jones said. “My hat’s off to coach Hewett and his entire staff. It was an unbelievable job what those guys just did. It was their third straight road game in the playoffs, and they did a great job.”
Dresden all but won the game with a perfectly-executed two-minute-drill scoring drive at the end of the first half, secured control with shut-down defense in the third quarter and then put the game on ice with an all-around superior effort in the fourth period.
Ahead just 14-12 with 2:17 to play in the first half after the Longhorns finished an impressive 13-play, 63-yard scoring drive with a Gilkey one-yard TD run, the Lions quickly went right back to work the other way, efficiently moving 65 yards in eight plays and scoring with 30 seconds to spare.
Hatchel picked apart the Westwood secondary by throwing to sidelines, hitting on all four of his passes as Tyler McPeak grabbed a 17-yard catch, Kanehl had catches of 10 and eight yards and VanDyke plucked away a pass for eight more yards.
Hatchel also had runs of 13 and four yards and ended up in the end zone when, lined up in the backfield, he took a toss to the right side from Davis Moran for a three-yard TD run and a 20-12 halftime lead.
Dresden could not muster any offense in the third quarter, but it ultimately didn’t matter as the Lion defense, despite giving up runs of 28 and 37 yards by Martavious Summers on two separate drives, used a sack to stop one possession and a pass break-up by Devan Raymer in the end zone on a fourth-down try to halt another.
The Lions then embarked on a 14-play, 79-yard drive that ended with a one-yard TD run by VanDyke for a 26-12 lead and left just 4:48 remaining in the game.
Forced to pass, Westwood did not gain a yard the rest of the night as Gilkey had six passes fall incomplete and two others picked off.
Dresden put an exclamation point on its win following Hatchel’s interception and 21-yard return with a two-play scoring drive, Swafford going to 25 yards and Raymer the final 10 at 1:38.
Early on, it looked like Westwood’s speed would be the difference when the Longhorns took an early lead by converting a third-and 22 play.
Aikia Cathey slipped underneath, pulled in a Gilkey pass and raced through the Lion defense for a 48-yard scoring play.
Dresden then fumbled at its own 35, but the ‘Horns could manage only four net yards before giving up possession.
Field position then went Dresden’s way.
Despite being stopped on downs at the Westwood four-yard-line, Dresden quickly got the ball back deep in Longhorn territory with an interception by Hatchel. He then scored four plays later and added the point-after for a 7-6 lead at 8:53 of the second period.
The Lions played on another short field with its next possession, a muffed punt snap giving Dresden the ball at the Westwood 17.
It then took Dresden just two plays to score again, Hatchel hitting Swafford over the middle with 6:33 to play in the half.
Westwood answered with its most impressive drive of the game to pull within 14-12, converting twice on third-and-one situations and then saved when Gilkey hit Brandon Harrison on a slant for 14 yards on a fourth-and-12. Published in The WCP 11.22.11