Handley was almost unstoppable last week, as the first-string offense scored seven touchdowns and a field goal in nine possessions in a 59-13 rout of Southampton of Courtland in a Virginia AA Division 3 semifinal. One drive in particular demonstrated the difficulty defenses have had stopping sixth-ranked Judges (12-1), who will play Brookville (10-3) of Lynchburg for the Division 3 championship at 7 tonight at James Madison University in Harrisonburg.
Leading 17-0 with five minutes remaining in the half, the Judges orchestrated a five-play, 62-yard touchdown drive. Handley lined up in shotgun formation on the first four plays but ran the ball each time. Senior Lang Campbell gained 12 and 15 yards on consecutive quarterback draws, then scrambled right for 20 yards. After senior running back Adam Woods gained nine yards on the fourth play, Southampton called time out. Campbell then went under center and rifled a perfect six-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Adam Dutton in the front right corner of the end zone despite tight coverage by Southampton cornerback Pervis Binns.
"It's difficult because they show you so many different sets, and the kids have to adjust when they come out of the huddle," Southampton Coach Littleton Parker said. "Then they have so much balance. You don't often see that in a high school team."
Handley Coach Todd Hill points to that balance as the main reason for his team's success. The Judges, who have averaged 40.3 points in three playoff games after scoring 33.2 per game in the regular season, have accumulated 4,919 yards overall this season--2,950 rushing and 1,969 passing.
"There really hasn't been anyone who can shut down both aspects of our game," said Hill, whose team has won eight straight since losing to Park View in Week 5. "We take what the defense gives us. If they shut down the run, we can pass. If they shut down the pass, we can run."
Everything starts with the 6-foot-3, 195-pound Campbell. Through 13 games, Campbell has completed 130 of 239 passes for 1,949 yards and 13 touchdowns with 11 interceptions and has rushed for 658 yards and seven touchdowns. He also has needed a good memory to recall all 45 passing plays in the Judges' playbook, which are run out of nine formations that include the shotgun and three-, four- and five-receiver sets.
"I don't think there are enough words in my vocabulary to describe his importance to our success," Hill said of Campbell. "He reads defenses well, reads coverages extremely well and knows when to change the play. He throws and moves well, but he's so football smart. It's almost like having an offensive coordinator on the field."
Campbell is not alone. Woods has rushed for 1,613 yards and a school-record 28 touchdowns. Dutton has caught 47 passes for 783 yards and six touchdowns and senior wide receiver Daniel Vipperman has 48 receptions for 622 yards and two touchdowns.
"I can't ask anything more from my receivers," Campbell said. "We don't have any really big receivers, but we have great possession receivers. They'll catch the ball 95 percent of the time."
Virginia AA Division 3 Final
Teams: Handley vs. Brookville.
Kickoff: 7 p.m. at James Madison University's Bridgeforth Stadium.
Analysis: No. 6 Handley (12-1) has won eight straight since a 42-17 loss to Park View in Week 5. The Judges have outscored playoff opponents by a combined 121-42, and routed Southampton, 59-13, in last week's semifinal. Senior quarterback Lang Campbell has completed 130 of 239 passes for 1,949 yards and 13 touchdowns with 11 interceptions this season, and senior running back Adam Woods has rushed for 1,613 yards and a school-record 28 touchdowns. "I don't know that you can stop them," Brookville Coach Bobby Johnson said. "You slow them down and limit the times they have the ball. It's certainly going to be a challenge." Brookville (10-3) is primarily a running team. Junior running back Dejon Kennedy has rushed for 1,400 yards and 29 touchdowns. Sophomore Matt Burch, junior Russell Lomax and senior Jeff Torrence have combined for more than 1,000 yards from the fullback position. Defensively, Burch, also a linebacker, has 124 tackles and five interceptions. "They've got extremely good quickness on the offensive line, do a lot of trap blocking and do it well," Handley Coach Todd Hill said. "They're not big, but they're quick. Defensively they have a real good scheme and will try to confuse you. It's a very talented football team."
Notable: Handley never has lost a state final. The Judges won the AA Division 3 title in 1994 and the Virginia AA championship in 1984. ... Brookville never has won a state final. The Bees will be making their fourth appearance in the championship game.
Directions: From Washington, take I-66 west to I-81 south. Get off at Exit 285 in Harrisonburg. Take a right at light at end of ramp on Port Republic Road. Take right at next light into campus on to Bluestone Drive. Stadium is on left about 1/4 mile.