Arawaks cruise in opener
Published: October 6, 2012
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ST. THOMAS - Chris Cilliers' voice was hoarse after too many Arawak Warriors chants during the game and a joyous team celebration after it, so he let a teammate describe his dominating performance.
"Who, Chris? He's half man, half machine," Lucas Berry said.
Cilliers rushed for two touchdowns, caught one more, tallied two sacks and recovered a loose ball for a turnover to lead the St. Thomas Private Schools Arawaks to a 44-0 blowout win over Ivanna Eudora Kean at Lionel Roberts Stadium on Friday in the season's first IAA varsity tackle football game.
The lopsided contest ended with 8:50 left in the fourth quarter after Berry's 33-yard touchdown catch pushed the Arawaks over the league's 40-point mercy rule.
Cilliers was in the end zone on three of his first four touches. He finished with 46 rushing yards and 31 receiving yards. Cilliers was also a menace at middle linebacker on a defense that surrendered just one first down in the game.
"Chris is built like a house," said Arawaks coach Luke Neely, whose team scored six touchdowns on seven possessions. "You can't arm tackle that guy. It's going to take two or three guys to bring him down, and we use him in so many different sets. He's fast enough to be on the edge and big enough to drive the ball up the middle."
Senior quarterback Nathan Brathwaite found Cilliers with a pass on the left flank from 26 yards out and the senior bulldozed into the end zone for the Arawaks' first score with 7:21 left in the first period.
Elijah Jones fell on the Arawaks' ensuing on-side kick attempt and six plays later, Cilliers collected a direct snap and burst up the middle for an 11-yard touchdown run.
"We had a great game plan and I think it worked to perfection," Cilliers said. "We have been working together for months and it feels good to come out here and make a statement like this."
The Arawaks used their up-tempo, no-huddle attack to grab a 14-0 lead before the Kean offense had even stepped onto the field.
Berry, a defensive end, tallied a sack for the Arawaks on the next series and the Devil Rays turned it over on downs, which set up a seven-play, 68-yard scoring drive for the Arawaks.
Senior running back David McDonald broke a 40-yard run to put the Arawaks in scoring position. From 14 yards out, Brathwaite dropped back and it looked like he was going to hand the ball off, but a quick forward pitch to a streaking Cilliers caught the Devil Rays off guard and resulted in another Arawak touchdown.
"I think everyone in the league knows how we play by now," said Neely, whose team has a bye next week before a meeting with six-time defending champion Charlotte Amalie High. "I have a great coaching staff and a great bunch of kids, who believe in themselves. It makes my job easy."
With less than two minutes left in the first half and with the Arawaks ahead 22-0, tempers boiled over after a Kean High long snap went over the punter and resulted in a Devil Rays turnover deep in their own half of the field. A scuffle between players broke out after the play and coaches from both sides broke it up before anyone was seriously hurt.
Four Kean players were ejected for their actions during the fracas and the game was delayed about 12 minutes when referees gathered both teams at midfield for a stern warning.
"We are going to go back and address any attitude problems in practice," said Ivanna Eudora Kean coach Elroy Donovan Jr., whose team was shut out for the first time since he took over the program in 2010. "Monday is a holiday, but we will be out on the field practicing. If they don't check their attitude at the door, then they will have to go through the door. It's that simple."
Kean sophomore quarterback Shunnel Greenaway was under constant distress every time he dropped back and the Devil Rays' running game was non-existent.
After the Arawaks stopped Kean on four straight plays to open the third quarter, McDonald ran up the middle for a 4-yard touchdown run, and his 2-point conversion opened a 30-0 lead.
McDonald finished with a team-high 75 rushing yards on seven carries.
Cilliers recovered a botched snap on the next series, which sparked another offensive run for the Arawaks. Three plays later, Leonard Gumbs got away from his man-to-man coverage on the left side and Brathwaite found him for a 20-yard touchdown pass.
The Arawaks got the ball back less than two minutes later, and on the first play of the drive, backup quarterback Tavis Richardson, a freshman, threw a deep ball to Berry in the end zone. Berry adjusted around two Kean players in the secondary and hauled in the jump ball from 33 yards out for the final score.
"Coach called the play and I just ran the route," Berry said. "We wanted to end the game with an exclamation point."
Arawaks 44, Devil Rays 0
- Contact sports writer Aaron Gray at 714-9102 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.