Prep football: Crouser, GW defense on task
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Spring Valley faced a third-and-goal from the George Washington 3-yard line with 9 minutes left in a scoreless first half Friday night at Steve Edwards Sr. Field.
West Virginia recruit Elijah Wellman took a handoff from quarterback Cody Brown and bounced to the left, avoiding GW linebacker Trevon Johnson in the process of looking to make his way to the end zone.
But as Wellman eluded Johnson's grasp, Patriot linebacker Dustin Crouser emerged from a pack of players and strung Wellman's run toward the sideline. By the time Crouser wrapped his arms around him, Wellman was back at the 9 and dropped for a 6-yard loss.
It was the tipping point in what became a 42-7 rout for the Class AAA No. 3 Patriots (5-1).
"I thought being able to keep our composure there - they had just gotten a nice little break - was important for us," GW Coach Steve Edwards Jr. said.
"Early in the game, both teams were pushing and shoving in a good way, playing hard. Our kids bowed their backs a little bit, and I'm proud of them for doing that."
Faced with a 26-yard field-goal attempt from the left hashmark, Spring Valley's Sam Brody missed wide right.
Afterward, it took GW just six plays before senior Ryan Switzer took control of the Patriot offense with a 33-yard touchdown run. It was the first of five scores for the 2011 Kennedy Award winner and North Carolina recruit.
"After that field goal, momentum jumped ship," Edwards said. "They had it for a second then it jumped on our back and, well, we're not going to try to kick (Switzer) out or anything."
It was perhaps the best manifestation of the Switzer/Crouser combination in the players' standout careers. Switzer finished with 310 rushing yards on 18 carries while Crouser - a University of Charlotte recruit - had three tackles for loss and led a defense that held the Timberwolves (3-3) to 48 total yards from the time of Brody's miss until the teams removed their starters in the fourth quarter with GW ahead 42-0.
"We practiced for this all week. We knew it was going to be a physical game. I knew it was going to be a physical game," Crouser said. "This was definitely, defensively, our best game of the year.
"We came to play. Our defensive line and linebackers came hard. It was relentless."
The Patriots regularly packed 10 defenders into the box against the Spring Valley wing-T set, which produced only 12 passing yards before starters were removed.
"That's the best defensive player in the state," Switzer said, pointing to Crouser after the win. "I expect this kind of performance from him. He brings it everyday in practice and workouts, and I've had the good fortune of being able to play with this kid.
"I know what he's about. Maybe it's surprising to some people but I know he's the best in the state."
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CONCORD UNIVERSITY freshman Andy Ellington set a record for field goals in a season when he hit 14 last year as a Winfield senior.
The record might not stand for long. Nitro (2-4) senior Alex White made two more field goals Friday night in the Wildcats' 35-18 home loss to Greenbrier East (2-5).
White has nine field goals this season, putting him on pace for 15 by the end of the regular season.
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WHILE SWITZER is approaching his rushing pace from his Kennedy-winning junior year despite missing almost two complete games, Cabell Midland senior David Gaydosz is giving the GW tailback a run for his money in scoring.
Gaydosz scored six times in top-ranked Midland's 63-0 win over Winfield on Friday, giving him 18 touchdowns for the Knights (7-0).
Gaydosz has 973 yards on 102 carries.
Switzer has 1,191 yards and 16 touchdowns. He finished the 2011 regular season with 2,010 yards and 27 TDs on 203 carries.
He is on pace to finish the 2012 campaign with 1,985 yards and 26 TDs on just 128 carries.
Both players trail Oak Hill senior Jalen Jones among Class AAA rushers. Jones, who led the seventh-ranked Red Devils (5-1) to a 34-14 win over visiting Point Pleasant (4-2) on Friday, ran for 325 yards in the win. He has 1,386 yards and 16 TDs this season.
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TRENT STOWERS' return to the Sissonville lineup proved to be crucial in getting the Indians (3-3) back on the winning track.
Stowers ran for 155 yards and scored twice in Sissonville's 26-20 win over host Herbert Hoover (1-6).
Sissonville had lost three straight after winning its first two. Stowers injured his ankle in the second half of the Indians' loss to Scott that started the losing streak, and sat out two subsequent losses while healing.
Contact Preps Editor Derek Taylor at email@example.com or 304-348-5170.