Sometimes sports can leave you at a loss for words.
For Lawson senior Colton Williams, this was one of those times. The Cardinals had just defeated Summit Christian Academy 35-19 in the Class 2 quarterfinals, putting them one win away from the state title game.
Williams was trying to put the feeling into words.
“It’s almost…,” Williams started before trailing off, looking for the right words. “I can’t explain the feeling. It’s like a dream. It’s awesome.”
The Cardinals had just finished grinding out another win, wearing down an opponent with their depth and ability to run the ball with multiple playmakers. While quarterback Cody Glenn and wide receiver Max Ross connected for a pair of touchdowns through the air, it was Williams, Adrean Eskew, Corbin Menke and a dominant offensive line that did most of the heavy-lifting.
“We have good depth at all positions,” Williams said. “We’re not just a one-person team. It’s a team effort.”
Added head coach Todd Dunn, “On our offensive line, most of those guys don’t play on defense. That’s a huge advantage. In the third quarter we pounded the ball on offense and started to wear them down.”
Thanks to those two touchdown passes to Ross and an Eskew score, Lawson jumped out to a 21-6 lead in the first half before the Eagles scored a crucial touchdown with 31 seconds to play in the half. Quarterback Sam Huckabee ran in from 11 yards out to make it 21-13.
But coming out in the second half, the Cardinals went right to their strength and the Eagles didn’t have an answer. They went 72 yards in nine plays - eight of them runs - and Williams capped the drive with a 3-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-2 for a 28-13 lead.
Eagles head coach Dalton Vann agreed that Lawson’s depth was a factor.
“Their physicality and their numbers,” he said of the challenges of facing the Cardinal offense. “They shuffle guys in and out.”
With plenty of time left, the Eagles mounted their own drive. It would run more than 9 minutes off the clock and they would have three fourth-down conversions, but on fourth-and-7 Huckabee’s pass into the end zone was a little too high for Dan Clarke and the ball went back to the Cardinals.
“That hurt. That meant everything for the second half,” Vann said.
“To get the stop was huge,” Dunn said. “Our guys in coverage did a great job. We put them in some tough situations. And we finally got a little pressure (on Huckabee).”
Lawson would put the game away with another impressive drive, this time going 87 yards on 10 plays, with nine of them on the ground, as Eskew capped the drive with an 11-yard score for a 35-13 lead.
The Cardinals hurt the Eagles all game long on sweeps and short passes out in the flat, giving guys like Williams and Menke plenty of space to manuever.
“The sweeps are their bread and butter,” Vann said. “When you’re good at what you do, it’s not going to matter who you play against.”
Huckabee would add a 2-yard touchdown run to finish the scoring, but it was too-little, too-late for the Eagles, as they capped an impressive 11-2 season.
“I just want to thank God for this opportunity to coach a great group of young men,” Vann said. “I’ve been here five years now, and I had a five-year plan. We saw everything through and accomplished just about all of it.”
Lawson, now 11-2, will host Trinity Catholic next Saturday for a shot at another trip to the state championship game.
“I knew we had talent, but we needed guys to step up we weren’t sure about and they have,” Dunn said. “That’s why we are where we’re at.”