Edison Coach Vaughn Lewis often faces a choice when the Eagles' offense comes on the field: which running back should play the next series, Kevin Roberts or Devan Clark?
Thankfully for Lewis, he says, the decision usually takes care of itself.
"Having Kevin and Devan is a luxury," Lewis said. "If Kevin is tired from playing defense, we put in Devan. And vice versa. We also base it on the situation, because Kevin and Devan bring different styles to the table."
Tonight, the Edison duo leads the Eagles (7-2, 6-0 AAA National District) against Jefferson (8-1, 6-0) in a contest that will determine the district champion. Edison, which like the Colonials already has clinched a berth in next week's Northern Region Division 5 playoffs, is seeking its first title since 2002, when the Eagles claimed the last of three consecutive championships. Jefferson is attempting to capture its first district title in football.
"This is the biggest game I've ever been in," said Roberts, who transferred to Edison from Lee two years ago, one year before the Lancers won the AAA Liberty District. "So I don't want to lose."
Roberts, a 5-foot-5, 160-pound senior who relies on his speed, began the season as the Eagles' starting tailback. But when he injured his right ankle in practice before the third game, Lewis moved Clark from wide receiver into the backfield to fill in for Roberts, who would miss two games. Clark, a 5-10, 190-pound junior who often uses his size and strength to pound out yards, filled in admirably.
The pair enters tonight's crucial matchup with impressive rushing totals: Roberts has 589 yards and 7 touchdowns on 84 carries; Clark has 637 yards and 12 touchdowns on 110 carries.
"It gives defenses trouble, because they get used to me running the ball, and then Kevin comes in," Clark said. "It definitely helps to have both of us. If one of us gets hurt, the other one steps in."
That happened two weeks ago against Mount Vernon. Roberts tweaked his ankle just before halftime, leaving Clark to carry the load in the second half. Clark gained a critical first down in the third quarter, and later scored the game-winning touchdown. On the point after attempt, Clark caught a two-point conversion pass from quarterback Anthony Robinson to secure the Eagles' 14-7 victory.
In addition to the different looks the Eagles can give in their backfield, they have also gotten key contributions on offense from several other players, including Robinson (585 yards passing, five touchdowns), wide receiver Justin Smith (21 receptions for 456 yards and 6 touchdowns) and fullback Calvin Salter.
"Kevin and Devan have done a great job," Lewis said, "but it's going to take everybody tonight," Lewis said.
Directions: From the Beltway, take Van Dorn Street exit headed south. Take left onto Franconia Road. School is immediately on right.