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Spartans reach new heights with title

COOKEVILLE — Caleb Blance's strong running inside (30 carries, 216 yards, two touchdowns) perfectly complimented little brother Aaron Blance's explosive bursts outside.

A handful of timely play-action passes were huge. The Green Guys owned the line of scrimmage. A freshman denied three big pass plays with interceptions.

All of this added up to 48 minutes of Webb School of Knoxville total domination against undefeated St. George's Independent School, Collierville, during 2010 BlueCross Bowl Division II-Class A Championship Game Dec. 2.

A 28-0 Spartans lead at the break was plenty of cushion, as Webb completed the program's second consecutive state title —and first-ever undefeated season with a state crown — in a 42-7 rout Thursday evening in Tennessee Tech's Tucker Stadium.

“They had an opportunity to make history today, and that was great for them,” said Dave Meske, who in his 26th season as Spartans head coach wins his fourth state title.

Caleb Blance, an elusive yet tough junior inside runner in Webb's wing-T offense, was named Bowl Offensive MVP.

“It feels great, the second time around is way better than the first time,” said Caleb, whose Spartans (13-0) out-gained St. George's (12-1) 274-60 in the first half and 388-199 for the game.

“I credit my line and my teammates, we all came out here and worked hard.”

Meske said his Spartans “played really well in the offensive line today,” led by seniors Dakota Jenkins and Patrick Daley (tackles), left guard Chance Harrison and center Jay Werner, along with junior right guard Brewer Congleton.

When St. George' s briefly limited Webb's ability to run outside on the first Spartans offensive series, Webb coaches used quick-hitting runs from Caleb Blance and a pair of play-action, quick-hitting streak passes from Parker Wormsley to Aaron Blance to loosen up the Gryphons’ defense.

“Parker had to make plays today; and Parker is an unbelievable quarterback,” Meske said. “If he was in the spread offense he'd probably throw for 3,[000], 4,000 yards.”

A 14-play, 78-yard touchdown drive ended with Caleb Blance getting the final 10 up the gut, lunging successfully for the goal-line from the 2.

With the first of six extra point conversions from freshman kicker Robby Stranchan, it was 7-0 Spartans with 5:37 left in the first period. An 18-yard pass from Wormsley to Aaron Blance was the longest play.

Two tackles for short yardage came from defensive tackle Werner, one of those assisted by senior defensive end Hunter Little, on St. George's first possession.

“Sitting here, it's like I'm on cloud 9,” said Werner about being part of Spartans history with back-to-back state crowns. “I'm so happy, and so proud of everybody that played.”

Freshman defensive back Matthew Melton intercepted an under-thrown bomb down the right sideline. Melton, ending with three interceptions, was named Bowl Defensive MVP.

“Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined [being] freshman MVP,” Melton said. “I only had one interception coming into the game.”

Webb was 47 yards from another touchdown, and two Bryan Berube runs totaling 24 yards landed Webb at the Gryphons' 20.

“The senior leadership, both years, was just amazing, because they kept us grounded even though we were winning,” said Berube, a sophomore who also starts in the Webb secondary. “They kept our heads on straight.”

On third and four at the 14, Wormsley's play-action quick-hitting streak pass to Aaron Blance was caught at the 4. Blance avoided one tackle to complete a 14-yard TD pass making it 14-0 with 3:09 left in the first quarter.

Webb held the Gryphons to one first down on its next possession, with Werner and Congleton, a linebacker, coming up with short-yardage stops.

“Our linebackers and D-line stepped up this game and really shut down their running game,” said Aaron Blance, who ended with 115 total yards rushing and receiving, including four catches for 57 yards.

A 17-yard sliding catch by senior receiver Brennan Liu helped get the Spartans out of a field position hole, igniting an 88-yard TD drive.

A 23-yard Caleb Blance run and a pass interference call on third down highlighted Webb's march to the Gryphon 16.

Under heavy pass rush pressure, Wormsley found David Wilhoite open over the middle inside the 10, running to the 3.

Aaron Blance scored on the next play with 7:16 left in the half, making it 21-0.

On Melton's second big interception, the freshman went high to grab a running back option pass deep down the right sideline at the Spartans 26 with 1:44 left in the half.

Caleb Blance quickly got his team in scoring position with runs of 25, 14 and 18 yards.

On third and less than one yard around the 7, Wormsley's play-action roll and sideline pass hit Aaron Blance perfectly as the sophomore speedster cut inside the near right pylon for another TD, coming with just 23.3 seconds left in the half.

A third-and-one hit from Congleton, for minus-2, stopped a Gryphons drive almost reaching midfield to start the second half.

Aaron Blance started things off with runs of 11, eight and eight more, the last of those a fourth-and-four run reaching the Gryphons' 26.

It took four more Caleb Blance runs to reach paydirt, the last a 2-yarder up the middle with 11:48 left in the game making it 35-7.

Melton completed a dream game with his third big interception, this one killing a Gryphons drive deep into Webb territory with his grab near the goal-line and 15-yard return.

Wormsley capped off this 10 play, 84-yard TD drive — once again featuring chunks of Caleb Blance yardage -— on a 1-yard sneak at the 2:49 mark.

Freshman defensive back Todd Kelly led the Spartans in total tackles with 5.5. Congleton had five. Webb senior defensive end Kelly Thomas strung out a third-and-one run and made the tackle for minus-4 yards.

Sophomore defensive tackle Skip Garner recovered a fumble.

Webb's excellent kickoff coverage also limited St. George's field position.


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