North Cross Wins State Title

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The 2011 VISSA Division III State Champion North Cross Raiders.
The 2011 VISSA Division III State Champion North Cross Raiders.

The North Cross Raiders traveled to VA Beach last Friday night to take on VISSA Division III powerhouse and defending State Champion Norfolk Christian Academy and though picked to lose by every sportswriter in the state (except our own Bill Turner) pulled off an impressive victory against the Ambassadors.

North Cross jumped out to an early lead in the first quarter (12-0) on two touchdown passes by quarterback Thomas Weaver that were backed up by an aggressive defensive scheme put together by Defensive Coordinator and former UVA star and Baltimore Raven Shannon Taylor.

The Ambassadors, with four UVA commitments and another Division I prospect being recruited  by Navy, seemed confused by North Cross’ speed on the outside and relentless pressure from defensive linemen Paul Smith, Austin Mylott, Derek Mason and Paul Ross. The Raiders forced four fumbles and pressured Norfolk Christian Quarterback Mekel Watson into three interceptions on a night in which he went 12 of 28 for 204 yards.

On the offensive side of the ball, Head Coach Stephen Alexander had the Ambassadors reeling with a creative mix of plays run primarily out of the Raider’s spread offense. North Cross moved the ball consistently in the first half as running back Evan Anderson churned out consistent yardage and wideouts Hugh Cundiff, Brice Woodliff, Josh Murray and George Revercomb hauled in a variety of sharp passes from Weaver (12-24 for 154 yards and 4 touchdowns) in building an 18-0 halftime lead.

Norfolk Christian came out swinging in the second half and seemed poised for a comeback but on 4th and 1, trailing by a score of 26 – 7, North Cross stuffed 6′-3″ 240 pound Army All-American Kwontie Moore at the line of scrimmage and the Raider coaching staff exploded in celebration. The Ambassadors were able to get on the board one more time to make the final score 26-13 but the better team seemed to have the upper hand until the final gun.

After the game head coach Stephen Alexander praised Taylor and his coaching staff and his players for their hard work and discipline in preparing for a team that clearly had several superstars who would be moving on to the college ranks. “Our guys listened and bought into doing things the right way . . . as a team,” said Alexander. “They never gave up – they gave it their all and they executed . . . I’ve never been so proud to be a Raider!”

North Cross finished 9-3 on the year in earning the VISSA Division III State Title.