South Lakes High School Football Off to Best Start in Five Years

South Lakes vs. Herndon/Credit: Christy Winters ScottSouth Lakes High School’s football team, which soundly defeated crosstown rival Herndon on Friday, is off to its best start since 2010.

The Seahawks are 5-1 under second-year coach Trey Taylor after beating the Hornets 50-13 at home.

That’s a big difference from 2014, when South Lakes lost its first five games (including 49-0 to Herndon) en route to a 2-8 season.

“I think we have a great group of guys,” SLHS coach Trey Taylor says of the 2015 team.

Taylor says last year’s team had a lot of senior starters — some of whom were first-time starters. The 2o15 team is young, but the coaching staff as had a year to work with them and know the players’ strengths and weaknesses, said Taylor.

Much of the Seahawks’ success is due to sophomore quarterback Devin Miles. Miles, who was the freshman QB team a year ago, has thrown for 481 yards and six touchdowns. He has also run in three touchdowns.

“He has really exceeded our expectations,” Taylor said of Miles, a product of Herndon’s youth football program. “Any time you have a guy moving from freshman to varsity, you worry about how he is going to handle games. He has done very well.”

One of Miles’ main targets is senior Eric Kirlew, who has 240 receiving yards, 304 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Kirlew is one of the returning offensive starters from 2014.

Other big offensive contributors are sophomore running backs Albert Mensah and Spencer Alston. Alston has carried the ball 325 yards for four TDs. Mensah has 265 yards and also scored four touchdowns.

Taylor says he also has to credit the defense. At this point in the 2014 season, the team had given up 240 points. In 2015: just 70.

“We’ve got some really good players on our defensive line,” said Taylor. “Last year, we had a habit of giving up a lot of plays. While Herndon scored last week on a big play, if we have to keep our opponent going downfield 3-t0-5 yards at a time, we are going to keep them from scoring.”

The Seahawks began the season with a 52-8 victory at Marshall. The lone loss came the next week, 24-20 against Briar Woods.

Since then it has been a 25-14 victory at Yorktown, shutting out McLean 42-0, thumping Washington-Lee, 28-2 and the wide margin against Herndon.

Taylor took over after Marvin Wootten resigned prior to the 2014 season. Taylor came to South Lakes after stints as the head coach at Woodson and Robinson, and as South County’s defensive coordinator. He took Woodson to the state semis a decade ago and the regional finals in 2009.

The Seahawks (3-0 in Conference 6) play at Madison on Friday. They close out the schedule with games against Langley, Hayfield and Fairfax.

Even though South Lakes will likely earn a playoff spot, Taylor says nothing is certain at this point in the season.

“One thing I noticed when I got here was we lost some games before we ever stepped on the field,” he said. “Now, we don’t worry about who we are playing. Anyone can win any game in any week.”

Photo: Crowd at South Lakes vs. Herndon game Friday/Credit: Christy Winters Scott

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