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Falcons look to slow down Poquoson

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Central's Jonathan Feaster hits Clarke County's Ben Wallace during first half action Friday night in Berryville. Rich Cooley/Daily (Buy photo)

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T.J. Sloan, 15, wide receiver and cornerback for Central High School, backflips down the hillside on his way to the practice field this week in Woodstock. Central will host their playoff game today against Poquoson. Rich Cooley/Daily (Buy photo)


By Brad Fauber

WOODSTOCK -- Central has seen plenty of opponents utilize run-heavy, misdirection offenses this season. Clarke County and George Mason both run the single-wing, Stonewall Jackson utilizes the flexbone triple-option and Spotswood's high-powered spread rushing attack has a little deception mixed in.

The Falcons must now focus on yet another form of misdirection offense -- this time the wing-T -- when third-seeded Central hosts No. 6 Poquoson this afternoon at 2 p.m. in the second round of the Class 3A East regional playoffs.

"The thing about the wing-T that makes it tough is you get a bead on a formation and they always have the ability to kind of flip it and go the other way with it," Falcons coach Mike Yew said. "So for that, the hardest part is just getting the motions going, the right kids pulling in practice and getting a good look. Once we get a good look, then I think it comes together pretty well."

Central (9-2) probably could simulate in practice all of the dives, traps, sweeps and counters that it can expect from the Islanders (8-3) this afternoon, but what the Falcons likely had a hard time emulating was the sheer size and strength of Poquoson senior running back Grayson Boyce.

Boyce, a bruising 6-foot-3, 245-pound running back, has been a force for Poquoson all season long. He leads the Islanders with 184 carries for 1,242 yards (6.8 yards per carry) and 18 touchdowns this season.

In last week's win 21-20 win over Petersburg, Boyce finished with 155 yards and a touchdown.

"We'll have to hit him low for sure," said Falcons senior defensive end Caleb Cook, who has 89 tackles this season, including 20 for loss. "It seems like he's got a decent amount of speed for his size, too. Not like the fastest kid, but for his size he can get around. We're definitely going to have to hit him low and gang up on him."

Boyce spearheads a Poquoson rushing attack that is averaging 268.6 yards rushing and 31 points per game this season.

In addition to Boyce, the Islanders also get steady production from senior running back Austin Turner, who has 686 yards and eight touchdowns this season. Turner is also the team's leading receiver, tallying 135 yards and three scores in Poquoson's seldom-used passing game.

Despite the heavy reliance on the running game, the Islanders did show the ability to hit the big pass play last week. Poquoson rallied from a 14-7 second-half deficit against Petersburg behind receiving touchdowns of 36 and 31 yards by junior Ethan Bryce, who is finally healthy after missing most of the season.

Central senior defensive back Justin Bauserman said it might take some time for the Falcons to adjust to Poquoson's offense.

"I think we can shut it down, it just takes a series or two to realize and recognize what's going to happen, what's coming to you before you can actually come up and make plays," he said.

On offense, Central will look to keep its dangerously balanced attack going against a Poquoson defense that is allowing 259.4 yards per game, including just 93.5 yards passing per contest.

Yew said the Islanders don't do anything out of the ordinary on defense, just that the Islanders are "really consistent and steady" with a good combination of size and speed.

"They're not doing anything gimmicky," Yew said. "They stay in cover 3 a lot. They keep eight guys in the box pretty much and then if you spread them out, they'll adjust and drop another guy, put a guy at safety and have seven in the box. But that's pretty standard across the board from what you see from most teams."

The Falcons have been consistent all season on offense, averaging 407 yards and 43.8 points per game. Senior quarterback Hayden Bauserman has completed 133 of 207 passes (64.3 percent) for 2,438 yards, 33 touchdowns and five interceptions, while senior running back Daniel Molina has racked up 1,586 yards and 23 touchdowns on 210 carries.

The Falcons may be without junior wide receiver Tommy Caison (28 catches, 889 yards, 13 touchdowns), who left in the first quarter of last week's 39-16 win over Thomas Jefferson with an ankle sprain, but Yew seemed optimistic on Tuesday that Caison would suit up for Central this afternoon.

Yew said the biggest key for the Falcons today will be to get off to another hot start on offense, which could force Poquoson into passing situations.

"This team loves to pound it. If we let them get up on us and we make some mistakes, it could be a long day for us. If we can get a couple stops on them early and get a couple scores, maybe -- hopefully -- change their approach with the running game," Yew said. "I think that would really make a difference in the game. But most of all we just need to get off to a good start. We did that last week and we need to do it again."

Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or bfauber@nvdaily.com. Follow on Twitter @BradFauberNVD



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