On third and goal from the 17-yard line, there was little doubt who was going to get a chance to make a play for Edison in last Friday's AAA Northern Region Division 5 semifinal game against Loudoun Valley.
Eagles wide receiver Justin Smith, the National District co-offensive player of the year, told his quarterback, Shawn Lloyd, in the huddle: "Just put it where I can get it."
Lloyd did just that, floating a pass that Smith hauled in at the back corner of the end zone for a 14-6 Eagles lead in the third quarter. Edison (10-1) won the game 14-12, and will make its second straight appearance in the region championship. No. 18 Edison will play at No. 15 Stone Bridge, tomorrow at 1:30.
Edison Coach Vaughn Lewis wasn't surprised that Smith came up with a clutch catch. "He's just a big-play person," Lewis said.
Smith, a 5-foot-10, 165-pound senior who is being recruited by Virginia, Georgia and South Carolina, has made plenty of big plays in his Edison career.
This year, he grabbed 52 balls for 878 yards, accounting for more than half of Lloyd's completions and passing yards. In last year's region final, a 29-25 loss to W.T. Woodson, Smith led a furious fourth-quarter comeback with two touchdowns.
But what most impresses Lewis is Smith's unselfishness. In Edison's 33-14 win over West Springfield in September, Smith faced double-coverage all day, so he was content letting other Eagles shine.
"He comes over to me and says, 'Coach as long as they're doubling me, someone else is going to be open,' " Lewis said.
Smith caught five passes for 71 yards, but Lloyd and senior running backs Devan Clark and Keone Kyle combined for 309 rushing yards and all five touchdowns.
Edison will need the efforts of all four if it is to overcome a Stone Bridge defense that features five all-Liberty District players.
"Playing [in the region final] again is great motivation by itself for us," Smith said. "We were real down after we lost the game last year. Last week gave us a great boost. We're going to try to keep it going."