Nick Smith spent the night before one of the biggest football games of his high school career playing video games, beating any teammate who dared to challenge him.
The next day--today--the junior quarterback coolly led No. 3 Park View to a 48-19 victory over Lafayette in a Virginia AA Division 4 semifinal in front of 2,000 at Cooley Field.
Park View (13-0) will face defending champion Salem (13-0) in Saturday's Division 4 final at James Madison University. The Sterling school will be playing for its first state title since 1988.
Smith completed 8 of 13 passes for 261 yards and one touchdown against the Rams (11-2). He also carried the ball 16 times for a game-high 98 yards and three touchdowns. And he made several tackles and blocked a Lafayette extra-point attempt.
Playing on different units "keeps me in the game and focused on what's going on," Smith said. "I get tired sometimes, and when I do, I raise my hand and go out. But it's the playoffs now--I don't want to go out."
The 6-foot, 170-pound Smith has started at quarterback since his freshman year and holds every passing record at the school. This season, he has completed 61 percent of his passes for 1,607 yards and 23 touchdowns with only two interceptions. Smith also has rushed for 964 yards and a team-high 17 touchdowns. "Your best players need to be on the field in the playoffs," Park View Coach Mickey Thompson said. "That's why you see guys like [senior defensive back Mike] McDermott and Nick out there. You put them on the field and give them a chance to make plays."
Park View used several big plays to put away the Rams, the Region I champions and Division 4 finalists in 1998. The first came on the game's first play, when junior William Chester returned the opening kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown.
"That was incredible," said junior Dustin Dudinski, who threw the final block to clear the way for Chester. "It just knocked everyone on the ground and gave us a real emotional boost. Coming out here, we weren't as enthusiastic as we were against Charlottesville [in last week's 54-22 Region II championship victory], but after that first play we were excited."
Shortly before halftime, Lafayette's Josh Horn capped a 72-yard drive with a two-yard touchdown run that cut Park View's lead to 28-12. But on the Patriots' next offensive play, Smith connected with McDermott on a 68-yard touchdown pass to make the score 35-12.
The Patriots arrived in Williamsburg on Friday afternoon. After practicing and eating dinner, the players relaxed in their hotel rooms, listening to music and playing video games.
"I thought I was good at those games, but Nick came in and had me 21-0 by the second quarter," Dudinski said. "Nick is great at everything. We battle it out in Ping-Pong and he's great at that, too."
Game summary Page D17
CAPTION: Lafayette's Lance Gray (80) can't stop Park View's Nick Smith (9), who rushed for 98 yards.