The word on the minds of the South Lakes Seahawks minutes after they defeated Stuart, 17-14, Friday in a Virginia AAA Northern Region football semifinal was "perfect."
Perfect was not the way the Seahawks played in eliminating the Raiders from the playoffs for the second straight year. In fact, they were far less than that in winning a game that most of the 2,500 spectators will remember for a long time because of its many turns.
But perfect is how Coach Tom Secules and many of his players said they will have to play Saturday to have any chance of defeating top-ranked T.C. Williams (11-0) in the regional championship game at W.T. Woodson (1:30 p.m.).
"We think we can beat T.C. Williams," said 6-foot-1, 160-pound Lance Hering, whose 20-yard fourth-quarter field goal provided the winning points against Stuart. "Every team has a game where they have a mistake. I know they turn the ball over a lot. If we can make them do that against us, and we don't make any mistakes of our own, we can beat them."
South Lakes, 9-2 and the Great Falls District champion, wants to win, but it must contend with the memory of the 49-0 loss it suffered at the hands of eventual state champion Mount Vernon in last year's regional title game.
Williams may be better than Mount Vernon was last year, and few would say this year's South Lakes team is better than last year's. South Lakes is a very different team this year, however, and it has been winning games it has not been expected to win.
Last year, the Seahawks had star tailback Willie Paige. This year's team has no real star. Its top running back has been 5-9, 143-pound senior Dana Briscoe, who did not even play football last year.
"He was a flanker on the junior varsity as a sophomore, and he just didn't come out last year," said Secules. "We feel he would have been a much better back had he played last year, but he has done a good job for us, especially the second half of the season."
Briscoe has gained 754 yards, including 65 on 16 carries against Stuart.
Senior quarterback Tony Arko has a limited throwing range, but he does not make many mistakes and has a knack for making big plays.
Arko scrambled 15 yards for a first down that set up a 14-yard touchdown pass to Jon Baer. Arko also threw a 44-yard completion to Hering on a fly pattern that set up the winning field goal.
Defensively, the Seahawks are not overwhelming, with the exception of 6-3, 273-pound tackle Carl Robinson. But Robinson sprained his left ankle early against Stuart and it remains to be seen how that will affect him against Williams.