Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local Sports

November 17, 2012

John Battle stops Spartans 37-14

BRISTOL, Va. — John Battle simply was not ready to close the books on its historic 2012 football season, and Friday night it sent shockwaves across Virginia with a 37-14 playoff walloping of traditional power Giles.

The victory was the 11th in 12 outings for the Trojans, who now must travel for next weekend's Group A, Division 2 West Section semifinals to face once-beaten Fort Chiswell, which scored late to beat Grayson County 32-28 last night.

Battle getting a shot at the top-seeded Pioneers may be surprising to some, but the way the Trojans handled Giles was downright stunning.

Fifth-year Giles coach Jeff Williams, however, insisted that folks should not be blown away.

"I'm not really shocked,'' the gracious Wiliams said.  "I told my kids all week that this was a good football team we were playing, a solid football team that is very well balanced and extremely well coached by Steve Wright more than anything.

"They don't have a bunch of superstars, but instead they have a bunch of kids who play hard and get after it.  They played high on emotion tonight and they whipped out butts.''

Indeed, after Giles (10-2) took the opening kickoff and methodically marched 65 yards in 10 plays to grab a 7-0 lead with a 10-yard touchdown run by Ian Mann, it was all John Battle.

Giles, which finished with 221 yards in total offense, would not score again until there was 2:18 left in the game.

Mann, who ran for 329 yards against James River last week, gained 116 against the Trojans, but only 59 after the first series.

Battle finished the game with 345 yards rushing, the 190-pound Balthis leading the way with 126 yards on 20 carries.  Carter Harlow ran for 99 yards and two touchdowns on only three carries, while fellow runningback Cody Rogers kicked in 74 yards on 11 attempts.

"We did a good job on offense of making first downs and controlling the ball,'' Wright said.  "We knew that would be important because we couldn't afford to let Giles get those eight- and nine-minute drives that eat up the clock.''

A 100-meter sprint champion, the 170-pound Harlow put the blocks to good use on the third play of the second half, hitting off left end and running through a would-be tackler on his way to a 51-yard scoring jaunt.  Later in the period, the junior covered 35 yards to the end zone on the same play to give the Trojans an insurmountable 35-7 advantage.

"Those two runs are on my linemen,'' Harlow said.  "I was taught to run hard and keep on truckin' and yes my track experience always helps, but those two are on the linemen right there.''

While the Battle offense was on top of its game, its defense may have played even better.

Giles had a chance to get to within two touchdowns after Harlow's first TD, but the Trojans stopped a 68-yard drive by stonewalling Mann on fourth down from the 1.

The Trojans then moved 99 yards to gain their 35-7 lead.

"The kids did a really good job with their defensive reads all night,'' Wright said.  "I've got to give credit to the kids, because that is a very good football program - not just a good team - over there on that other sideline.''

Williams returned the compliment.

"I'll tell you, people on this end of the state better look out,'' Williams said.  "With the way Steve Wright can coach and get his coaches to coach these kids, this place is going to be a football place for years to come.''

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