STAB clinches homefield, blows past Blue Ridge

St. Anne’s-Belfield football’s traditional white pumpkin, which emerged from a long-ago joke by a former coach about the Saints’ white helmets, arrived at coach John Blake’s office door this week right on schedule.

The pumpkin, which is the physical representation of the Saints’ ‘White Pumpkin Hell’ postgame chant, usually shows up Halloween week in time for the season’s stretch run.

The Saints then paint the pumpkin before it begins its typical postseason journey with STAB’s football team. This year, the pumpkin won’t have to travel far.

“No, no (it doesn’t),” Blake said. “We might even make a pie out of this one.”

The Saints clinched the No. 1-overall seed in the VISAA Division II tournament and homefield advantage throughout with a 45-6 victory over rival Blue Ridge. They’ll open with a semifinal Friday against Nansemond Suffolk Academy.

“It’s huge,” Blake said. “We’ve had great success in the playoffs here at home, playing at home this time of year is huge. Now the guys from the beach can come here. They can take that ride.”

The Saints cruised by building a 42-0 lead before the half, in part based on Lee Parkhill’s essentially perfect day at quarterback as he went 6-for-6 for 122 yards and two touchdowns. The scores both came in the first quarter, with the first going to Kareem Johnson for 29 yards and the other going to Jalen Harrison from 21 yards out.

“His first five or six throws were impressive and we just kept it up from there on out,” Blake said. “We were clicking on all cylinders…the start really helped.”

The Saints were up 14-0 after the first quarter before exploding for a quartet of second quarter touchdowns. John Woodson scored twice on the ground from 27 and 20 yards out. Brodie Phillips intercepted a pass and took it the house and Chris Barry rushed in from 13 yards out.

DeeJay Anderson led the six players who carried the ball multiple times for the Saints with 71 yards on eight carries. Woodson’s lone touches were his two scores and Michael DiGiacomo ripped off 44 yards on six carries.

Harrison and Johnson finished with identical stat lines as each wideout totaled 56 yards and a touchdown on three catches. Tight end Campbell Miller had a 34-yard catch for the Saints.

Patrick Blake hit a 43-yard field goal after the break for the Saints.

Blue Ridge got on the board after the break when Trevor Eaton hit Malik Johnson on a fade route for a touchdown in the endzone late in the third quarter. The Barons couldn’t muster much more on offense though as they struggled with the Saints’ speed on both sides of the ball.

“They were awesome, they’ve got the whole package, you’ve got to respect them,” said Blue Ridge coach Tim Thomas. “They’ve got speed at all positions, linemen, everything.”

Blue Ridge has undergone essentially a rebuilding effort in Thomas’ first year as the head coach, and while it ended in a frustrating way, things are starting to turn in the right direction for the Barons.

“Our linemen are all sophomores across the board we’re very young,” Thomas said. “We were just kind of putting the puzzle together (this year). They key right now is to get them into the weight room and they’re buying into that.”

The Barons’ season ends while the Saints move on to the playoffs. They’ll play an NSA team that just pounded Hampton Roads Academy 76-20, but who fell apart against STAB back in late September as St. Anne’s rolled 61-6 over NSA.