PEARISBURG, Va. —
The single wing is alive and well at Giles.
Ian Mann ran for 326 yards and three touchdowns, and also threw for a score, leading the Spartans to a 41-14 West Section, Division 2 playoff opening win over James River on Friday night at Stephen C. Ragsdale Stadium.
Giles (10-1), which won its ninth straight game, finished with 507 yards on offense, including 487 on the ground.
Mann, who passed Leon King's single season rushing record with 2,207 yards, had touchdowns runs of 3, 52 and 37 yards, all in the first half. He had 250 yards in the opening half, including eight runs of at least 10 yards, and added two more long runs after the break, including a final dash for 54 yards to set up the Spartans' last score of the game.
"It is a track meet usually when you have a full sprint going," Mann said. "It helps a lot whenever you can get the first five without ever getting hit."
That's because of the offensive line, led by 5-foot-11, 240-pound Kearsley Dillon, 6-2, 245-pound Jared Farmer and 6-0, 204-pound center Miller Collins, who helped open holes that also assisted Brett Whitlow in running for 103 yards and a touchdown.
"The offensive line really kicked it gear. They did a really good job, they make it easy for us," Mann said. "We are really pleased with the effort that we had."
That effort helped Giles advance to the second round of the playoffs next Friday at John Battle.
James River (7-3), which had won four in a row, fell behind early when the Spartans took the opening possession and ran 17 straight running plays, covering 73 yards in 9:03, capping it off with a 3-yard run by Mann.
"We have been off to good starts all year long, especially since the district games started," Giles head coach Jeff Williams said. "I think our kids have really gotten into the mold of being a fast starting team, especially on offense and I think it has been one of the keys to where we are at right now."
It wasn't just the Giles offense that dominated the Knights on this night. James River was held to one yard in the opening quarter, and had been out-gained 189-1 after the Spartans extended its lead to 20-0 with 10:05 left in the second quarter on a 33-yard scoring run by Whitlow and a 52-yard dash down the sidelines by Mann.
"Our defense is progressively getting better each week and I am so proud of those guys in there and our coaches for doing the job they are doing," Williams said. "We are progressing on defense each week and getting a little bit better and in the playoffs you have got to be good on defense. In order to go deep in the playoffs that is what you have got to have."
James River (7-4) did get on the board on its first possession of the second quarter behind quarterback Kyle King, who played with a sprained ankle and led the Knights with 67 yards on the ground and 52 more through the air. He scored on touchdown runs of 1 and 5 yards, but the Spartans led 34-14 at the break.
"My hats off to Coach King and his staff, they had their kids ready to play and they played hard," Williams said. "It wasn't an easy out there tonight, it was a physical football game too."
Mann added a 37-yard scoring run, and also connected with Chad Randel on an 8-yard scoring pass before halftime. Mann threw the only two passes in the game for Giles and completed both for 20 yards. The Spartans were backed into fourth down situations six times in the game, but went for it five times and converted each one.
"That game tonight was won in the weight room, it wasn't won out here on Friday night," James River head coach Philip King said. "Those kids work hard. If anybody wants to know what a football team should look like, look at Giles. They do that stuff in the rec league all the way up and that is the key to a successful program and those kids work hard."
"I love it like that," added Farmer. "It is a big test of character if you know what a team has got and what they are going to do, that is how I like it."
Chris Moore, who ran for more than 1,300 yards this season for James River, was held to 38 yards, but got 19 on the first play of the second half, but any momentum was quickly squashed by the Spartans, who forced one of five punts from Dylan Bryan, who had a 61-yard kick in the fourth quarter.
"We told the kids we wanted to get a big stop there and we needed that," Williams said.
Giles drove down the field, but Garrett Lee missed a field goal. Lee is an all-state punter, but rarely gets to show off his leg, having punted just 12 times all season for the high-powered Spartans, who have scored at least 41 points in its last nine games, all wins for the Spartans.
"It would have been nice (to force him to punt)," King said. "We held him to a field goal failure and I thought that was a big success."
Of Giles six scoring drives, they went 17 plays for 73 yards, in addition to 2-52, 5-63, 7-64, 8-57, and the Spartans capped it off in the final period with a 12-play, 91-yard drive that was key by 54-yard run from Mann. Tyler Perdue finished it off with 5-yard run with 6:15 left in the game.
Giles ran the ball 65 times for those 487 yards, and Farmer enjoyed every minute of it as any offensive lineman should.
"That is Spartan football, that is how we play," Farmer said. "Two, 3, 9, 10 yards a play, that is how we play."
No one enjoys watching it more than Williams, who played at Giles under former longtime Spartans head coach Stephen Ragsdale.
"I think we are a little better up front than we were last year," Williams said. "We have got a couple of big kids in there, Kearsley Dillon and Jared Farmer and Miller Collins, just from left end to right end, we are going to try to get in there and block people. That is what we are going to do, and the kids have done just a great job at it."
What makes Mann's success so impressive is the 6-foot, 175-pound senior was inserted as the starting running back after Ethan Mitchell, who ran for well over 1,000 yards last season, transferred during the summer to Stafford, Va. Mann, who didn't play offense last year at all, is also a track standout who has had an memorable season for the Spartans.
"When he left it was a big slot that was going to be hard to fill," Mann said. "We had a sophomore (Whitlow) move up and he is playing fullback and he is doing really good right now."
“Ian has just really stepped it up for us," added Williams "We told him from day one you are going to be the man, you are going to be the man for us and we are planning on running him. I don't think we have really run him a lot because his yards per carry is just really spectacular, but he has just done a super job for us."
King said the success of Mann is a combination of his ability and the offensive line, which simply runs the opposition off the ball.
"Our kids battled, we had a plan and we tried to execute the plan, what can you say," King said. "It is both. They are a good hard-nosed football team, they do the little things right. They execute and he makes it happen, he has got some wheels."
Up next for the Spartans is a visit to Bristol to face John Battle (10-1), which defeated Virginia High 24-19 on Friday night. Mann is confident in Giles' chances to move forward in search of the school's fourth state football championship.
"If we keep playing like this I think we can make a really good run at it," Mann said. "We are playing really good as a team, everybody is playing really well."
— Contact Brian Woodson at firstname.lastname@example.org
PEARISBURG, Va. —
The single wing is alive and well at Giles.
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