Every team that has faced No. 1-ranked T.C. Williams this season has known beforehand how to defend the unbeaten Titans (13-0) -- stop tailback Lydell Scott. Those teams have known on 30 or 35 occasions in the game the play will be Lydell Scott right, Lydell Scott left or Lydell Scott up the middle. But Scott still gets away with it.
"Everyone knows Lydell is going to carry the ball, we don't try to trick anyone," said T.C. Williams Coach Glenn Furman. "But he wasn't selected The Washington Post and state of Virginia's offensive player of the year for nothing. He is the complete back, he runs the football, he blocks and he can catch. Of course, we don't throw that much but if we had to, he would catch it. And he never fumbles. He has carried the ball 300 times and has fumbled only three times. He is our workhorse."
The 5-foot-8, 170-pound Scott and quarterback Troy Bailey were expected to be the game-breakers in the Titans' option offense. But Bailey broke his leg in the third game of the year, putting the workload on Scott.
Going into Saturday's 1:30 p.m. Virginia AAA state Division 6 title game against Hampton at W.T. Woodson, Scott has run for 1,868 yards and scored 27 touchdowns, both school records. For his career, he has 3,022 yards, also a school mark. He has rushed for more than 100 yards in each of his team's 13 games with a high of 212 yards and four touchdowns against Lake Braddock. In the three playoff games, Scott has gained 466 yards and scored seven times against defenses designed to stop him.
"What I've done far exceeds anything I wanted to do," Scott said. "I had a goal of rushing for 2,000 in my career but I'm over that. I enjoy carrying the ball and it doesn't bother me to run against stacked defenses. The guys block and I think I get stronger as the game goes on. I think the team depends on me to pep them up. If I'm having a good game, the defense and the special teams, everyone plays hard."
If that is the case, it is easy to understand why the Titans are playing Hampton for the state title for the third time in four years. With Scott a standout in every game, the Titans have hardly been tested in reaching the final again. Williams has outscored its opponents, 371-56, with seven shutouts.
Furman will not be drawn into a debate on whether this year's team is as good or better than his state championship team of 1984. "They won the championship, this team still has one game to play," he said.
Furman does say Scott has been his most complete back. A very productive runner since eighth grade, Scott displayed moves rarely seen from athletes so young.
"He is very good at breaking tackles and knowing when to cut," said Lydell's father, Roger Scott, who was 5-5 and 128 pounds when he was selected All-Met after rushing for 1,200 yards and scoring 14 touchdowns at Phelps Vocational School in 1963. "We talk a lot about what he does on the field but I don't interfere with his work with the coaches. He has shown marked improvement each year and the biggest difference in him now and a couple of years ago is now he breaks the long runs. I told him, to be considered a good back, you have to break the long runs."
Lydell Scott earned a starting berth as a sophomore but was the secondary back in T.C. Williams' 12-2 season, which ended with a 16-0 loss to Hampton in the state final. Last year, he hurt his ankle in the fifth game and didn't return.
"I almost thought he lost interest in the game after he couldn't play anymore last year," Roger Scott said. "But he ran track and worked all summer and, like I did when I played, overworked to get in good condition."
Lydell said he is eager for Saturday's game because he had only six carries against Hampton in his team's loss two years ago.
"So far, it's been a very rewarding year and going into this game, I have to be very positive," he said. "We can win."