Since injuring his knee in No. 18 Centreville's season opener, running back Mike Williams had been running every day to stay in shape. Last night, playing in a full game for the first time since spraining medial collateral ligaments in his knee, Williams needed every bit of the extra conditioning as he carried the load in the Wildcats' plodding offense.
Williams rushed for 151 yards and one touchdown on 38 carries, helping visiting Centreville defeat South Lakes, 20-7, in the Virginia AAA Concorde District opener for both teams before 900 at Patricia A. Bergan Stadium in Reston.
It was the first loss of the season for South Lakes (4-1, 0-1), which went 0-10 last season.
Centreville (4-1, 1-0), the defending Division 6 Northern Region champion, has not lost a district game since 1996. The Wildcats have won four consecutive games since a season-opening loss to No. 16 Lake Braddock. In that game, Williams, a 6-foot-1, 195-pound senior, suffered the sprained medial collateral ligaments; he missed the next two games and played sparingly in last week's 20-0 victory over West Springfield.
While injured, Centreville first-year coach Mike Skinner made Williams run to stay in shape.
"It was more than a lot" of running, Williams said. "I felt like I was on the cross-country team."
It paid off last night. While Williams led a rushing offense that gained 273 yards, senior defensive end Cardell Richardson and senior linebacker Rob Lane led the defense. After allowing a first-quarter touchdown, Centreville was nearly flawless. South Lakes, which entered averaging 34.3 points per game, managed just 126 yards of total offense.
South Lakes quarterback Chris Royal completed just two passes and wide receiver Dustin Hellenga, who had been a standout in the Seahawks' four victories, managed just one catch, a 44-yard touchdown while being covered throughout the game by sophomore cornerback Marcus Hamilton.
"We thought we would come out and give them a different look than they normally get" by playing two safeties, said Richardson, who has unofficially committed to play at Wake Forest next season. Skinner "just asked for the line to rush. And that's my job, to rush the quarterback."
Richardson had two of Centreville's four sacks and made perhaps the game's biggest play. With the score tied at 7 at the start of the third quarter, Royal tried to pitch to running back Anthony McGhee on an option play. But Richardson hit Royal before he could make the pitch and the ball bounced backward and was recovered by Centreville linebacker Jason Myers at the Seahawks 17-yard line.
Three plays yielded seven yards and Centreville's Brian Christiansen made a 28-yard field goal. But South Lakes was penalized for roughing the kicker and Skinner decided to take the penalty and the ensuing first down and negate the field goal. On the following play, Williams ran untouched around the right side of the line for a five-yard touchdown and a 14-7 lead.
After forcing a punt, Centreville drove 68 yards on eight rushing plays (six carries by Williams). Senior running back Greg Hamilton Jr. (Marcus's older brother) scored on a 17-yard touchdown run up the middle on a play that seemed to fool the defense, as many South Lakes players followed either Williams or quarterback Sam McElroy.
"We knew if we could win this game, we were a good football team," South Lakes first-year coach Dennis Randolph said. "We're a good team, but not as good as Centreville."
CAPTION: South Lakes quarterback Chris Royal is tackled by Rob Lane, left, and Will Montgomery--1 of 4 Centreville sacks.