Ahead of Christopher Vizzina’s third game of his senior campaign, The Clemson Insider caught up with his head coach at Briarwood Christian (Alabama) School, Matthews Forester.
Forester recapped Briarwood’s 23-21 win over Spain Park, in which Vizzina totaled 358 yards from scrimmage with three total touchdowns (two running, one passing). He went 22-of-32 passing for 260 yards while adding another 98 yards on the ground.
“He played excellent. He played really good. He played really smart,” Forester said. “And then ultimately under pressure, he was calm, cool and collected. You feel good leaving that game, knowing that the guy you’re counting on — your quarterback — could handle the pressure, enjoy the pressure and played really well. He made all the right reads. He had time to make the reads — part of it is credit to his offensive line, what a great job they did…Our offensive line gave him time and when he has time, he can make the throws. He made some pretty special throws on Friday, but he also made all the right reads.”
With 58 seconds left, down by four, Vizzina walked up to the offensive huddle and said to Briarwood’s offensive coordinator, Bobby Kerley, “Let’s go.”
“Christopher does a great job of controlling the safeties with his eyes and then he hits our comeback routes that are on the sidelines,” Forester said. “We pretty much marched down the field, knowing that we’ve got time — 58 seconds, 60-yards away. We feel comfortable. He does a great job of using the sidelines. We’re getting out of bounds. We’re real efficient in our time because he’s controlling safeties and even the corners with his eyes and he’s hitting comebacks.”
At one point, Vizzina converts a pass over the middle of the field. He throws a rocket. The guy catches it and then he gets down. Timeout.
On the last play, there was pass interference, which led to an untimed down.
“Coach Kerley gets in the huddle,” Forester recalled. “He gives the play call. He says, ‘He’s gonna be open, hit him.’” The neat part about that, is our receiver, Brady Waugh, maintained his break, started to cut and Christopher’s already released it. To the naked eye, Brady looks wide-open. But from Christopher’s perspective — you can see it in the endzone camera — that there are defensive line hands that are going up and there’s also a backside safety and a middle linebacker that are shooting their hands up. He puts an absolute rocket laser on Brady. Brady makes the catch and we’re good from there to celebrate.
“He had all the confidence. He stepped up and ripped it. He was ready to go and (Waugh) was there.”
It’s moments like those that show Vizzina has that “It” factor.
“One of the fun things that I’ve known about for awhile, he’s a 14-year-old freshman, we’re playing the No. 1 team in the state,” Forester said. “It comes down to the end and he’s making those same throws right down the middle. He’s stepping up into the pocket, while he’s getting hit, as a 14-year-old freshman. He’s done that. We went to overtime last year. We’re down 14 points with five minutes to go and he leads us there, as a junior, to an overtime victory.
“There’s been these times throughout and to me, this was just another markup that the moment’s not too big for him. He has the it factor, the ability to lead. Our guys, they all respect him. They follow his lead. And so, there was no real panic from our offense, from our coaching staff. It was our time and they executed it to perfection.”
Following a walk-off win, Briarwood starts region play. Forester was able to preview Friday’s matchup against Chilton County.
“We’re really excited,” he said. “For us, our state is divided for the playoffs into the North and the South. We spent the last four years in the northern playoff bracket, so this is our first opportunity to play a region team, but it’s also a first opportunity to get back into the southern part of the bracket.
“Excited about playing a new team. We probably haven’t played them in 8-10 years. So, getting back to playing them will be fun…It’ll be a good, tough matchup. Excited about the opportunity and just also ready to head back to the South. While the first two games were great, they were ultimately preparing us to be the best team we can be when we play the region. Now we’re getting that opportunity and we’ve learned a lot about ourselves. Excited to play in a region and make noise in the playoffs.”
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