Special to Daily
The Luella Lions haven't enjoyed a wonderful 2010 season.
However, there is more than a little light at the end of the tunnel for head coach Nic Vasilchek and his charges.
Led by sophomore Alvin Hill and a host of underclassmen, the Lions edged the Westlake Lions 7-0 in Region 2-AAAAA play for Vasilchek's first region win.
Luella (3-6, 1-5 in 2-AAAAA) snapped a five-game losing streak and moved into a tie with Westlake (2-7, 1-5) with one game left in the 2010 season.
Hill seemed to be everywhere, intercepting three Westlake passes, returning kicks, and being on the receiving end of a trick play that resulted in the game's only touchdown. Add in sophomore quarterback Jared Hendrics, sophomore running back Gabe Smith, and freshman running back Trey Brown and the Lions seem to be set up for regional title runs in 2011 and 2012.
The first quarter was scoreless, and all but three snaps happened on the Luella side of the field.
Westlake then advanced into the red zone early in the second, but Hill's first pick turned things around for Luella.
Hill caught the pass on the Luella one and ran 42 yards to the Luella 43.
The Lions moved to the Westlake 18, but came away empty on a fourth down incompletion. The defense stopped Westlake, forcing a punt and Luella got the ball at midfield.
Hendrics tossed a short pass toward junior wide receiver Reise McDaniel. In what looked like a volleyball set, McDnaiel deflected the ball toward Hill who was open and racing toward him. Hill gathered in the deflection and raced down the left sideline for a touchdown with three minutes left in the first half.
The teams traded interceptions in the final two minutes of the second, and the half ended with Luella on top. When Luella fumbled away the opening kickoff in the third, it seemed as if Westlake was about to tie the game.
But the defense stiffened and Westlake missed a 27-yard field goal attempt.
Hill donned his goat costume for Halloween early in the fourth by muffing a punt, but he immediately redeemed himself with his third interception, returning the ball 27 yards to the Luella 41. Luella marched to the Westlake 2 with three minutes left in the game, and Vasilchek elected to try for a touchdown instead of kicking the nearly certain field goal. Westlake stopped Smith at the one.
Westlake had spent all of its timeouts early in the half, but there was plenty of excitement before the Luella fans and players could exhale comfortably with a victory. Westlake quarterback Javaree Williams completed six passes and moved his team 84 yards to the Luella 15. With 12 seconds to go, Williams was flushed out of the pocket and was tackled, fumbling the ball as time expired. High drama in Georgia high school football. Happy ending for the Luella Lions.
Smith had a nice night for Luella, carrying 13 times for 68 yards and grabbing three passes for 42 yards. Hendrics was 7 of 17 for 106 yards and one touchdown. Hill ran for 9 yards, caught 2 passes for 53 yards and a touchdown, returned a punt for 8 yards, and returned three interceptions for 102 yards. That's a grand total of 172 all-purpose yards. Junior linebacker Tevin Jones led the defense with eight tackles, and senior Chaz Walker earned seven stops.