By Mitch Stephens
SAN FRANCISCO - The David Henderson swan song finished on a high note - 27 carries, 242 yards, three touchdowns, including a 70-yard TD jaunt on his final prep carry.
But it was the introduction of sorts to junior linebacker DeShon Marman that proved more vital in Lincoln High's 49-0 victory over Washington in the 84th Turkey Day Game Thursday at Kezar Stadium.
Marman, a 5-foot-11, 181-pound transfer from Riordan-San Francisco, had 10 tackles, three sacks, two punt blocks, two fumble recoveries and two touchdowns in one of the most dominating non-offensive performances imaginable as the Mustangs (9-3) won their third consecutive San Francisco Section title game, this one in front of around 5,000 fans.
Marman's performance outdid Henderson, the section's career rushing leader, simply for this: his highlight-reel plays - and there were many - came when the contest was still competitive.
Henderson's touchdowns were the last of this sunny afternoon and after Lincoln had long since clinched this surprisingly lopsided affair.
Truth be told, Washington (7-4) had bottled Henderson up for his first 18 carries, limiting him to just 60 yards. But Henderson piled up 182 in his final nine carries against, by then, a deflated defense, that included a whirling dervish 40-yard TD run with left in the third quarter that was signature Henderson and that gave Lincoln a 35-0 lead.
He finished with 2,314 rushing yards and 29 TDs this season and 5,596 and 67 for his career.
"I just had to sit back and let the game come to me," Henderson said.
But by that time, Henderson admitted, "DeShon took the game over."
He took it with one of the more remarkable 20-second sequences in the Turkey Day Game history.
With Lincoln leading 7-0, Marman blocked an Anthony Marshall punt in the end zone. The ball squirted around the end zone and slipped out of three Lincoln players before Marman himself secured it, giving the Mustangs a 14-0 lead with 10 seconds left in the half.
It was Marman's second blocked punt of the game and third in two games.
"Special teams can change games," Marman said. "Our offense hadn't done much so I figured I had to do something."
Before the half was done, he did some more.
With four seconds left and from his own 32, Washington coach Karl Finley decided to go for broke. Instead, Marman broke the Eagles' back.
He sacked Derf Butler at the 18, the ball sprung free and rolled to the 14 where Marman picked it up and sprinted untouched into the end zone.
Just like that, it was 21-0 and Marman had sprinted into the long tunnel heading into the locker room.
Like Marman himself, this game went "poof."
Normally, the "Hail Mary" pass at the end of the half gives a linebacker a chance to take a break. Not so, says Marman.
"You can never take a play off," Marman said.
Lincoln coach Phil Ferrigno said Marman never does.
"He's a ball player and he plays with passion," Ferrigno said. "He really flies to the ball."
Moving Marman from strong side to weakside linebacker was one of a handful of defensive adjustments Ferrigno and staff made from the team's other outing on Oct. 26, a 28-26 Lincoln win.
In that game Lincoln gave up 459 yards. On Thursday, the Mustangs allowed a scant 123.
It helped Lincoln record its second straight shutout and allowed Marman more freedom to attack and show off his athleticism. Ricky Ohlssen and Marquice Lewis added sacks for the winners and Shawn Meneses contributed two interceptions.
But Marman, when not making sacks or blocking kicks, was the one forcing Butler and Habtu Solomon into hurried throws. The two Washington quarterbacks combined for just 5 completions in 23 attempts and two interceptions.
"We used (Marman) like the New York Giants used Lawrence Taylor," assistant coach Tom Daley said.
Said Finley: "Give the kid credit. He was everywhere."
Asked why he didn't just take a knee on the last play of the half, Finley said: "We always go for broke and frankly, what's the worst thing that could happen? We're thinking just a sack. We could have never expected THAT.
"Those two plays really broke our back. That was tough to come back from."
When it took Lincoln just three plays to go 58 yards for another score, a 45-yard TD jaunt up the middle by sophomore Eric Beverly, Washington was toast.
Henderson then scored on his 40-yard run then added a 1-yard score after Ramiro Raygosa had Lincoln's third punt block to set up a 23-yard drive, making it 42-0 with left in the third quarter.
Raygosa had scored the game's first touchdown on a 19-yard reception from Ronnie Paolucci with left in the first half, meaning Lincoln had piled up six touchdowns in 14 minutes.
"What can I say," said Ferrigno, who seemed very confident Wednesday night that Lincoln would prevail despite being largely outplayed the first time. "Our guys put their wills on other teams. They put me at easy because they're always ready to play."
Henderson said he could smell the victory first thing Thanksgiving morning.
"We woke up, smelled the coffee and it smelled like victory," Henderson said. "So we drank it all."
Finley, a first-year coach, wasn't all too pleased that Henderson was still on the field to score his 70-yard run with the score 42-0 and remaining.
"It's not that big a deal, but it's something we'll remember for another day," Finley said.
Ferrigno said he simply wanted fans to get a glimpse of Henderson for as long as they could.
Lincoln hadn't won a Turkey Day Game since 1979 before Henderson showed up in 2005.
Now the Mustangs are just the fourth AAA school to win three straight crowns and the first since Galileo (1988-90).
"I wasn't trying to pour it on," Ferrigno said. "I just wanted to give him the ball one last time at Kezar."
Like he did so many times before, he sprinted quickly into the secondary, cut left and was gone.
"I just wanted to take it home," Henderson said. "This was the perfect way to end it."
Marman, who played in the West Catholic Athletic League for Riordan's varsity as a sophomore, said Henderson's talent is no fluke.
Some believe Henderson's numbers are inflated because he plays in the Academic Athletic Association, not considered one of the stronger leagues in the Bay Area.
Marman said Henderson would be a star in the WCAL, considered the toughest league in Northern California and one of the best in California, if not the country.
"No doubt," Marman said. "He's no joke. I heard last week he was compared to O.J. Simpson. He may just someday go to the NFL."
Henderson just wants to get to college.
His size (5-11, 190), speed (4.4 in the 40) and moves certainly point the Division I-A level, but his grades still need work. He may attend junior college first.
But that's because he got a late start. By his own admission, he hung out with the wrong crowd as a freshman, cut class, got in trouble.
That's until Ferrigno and the football staff got a hold of him. And his mom gained some control.
That's why the all the championships, yards and accolades didn't seem possible, he said while looking back on Thursday.
"Never could have imagined all this," Henderson said. "If I didn't make some changes I might not be standing here today."
Henderson didn't mean standing there talking to reporters, basking in the glory. He meant literally. His life seemed headed down a dark and cold path. .
But football offered a crease to normalcy. To a future.
And just like he showed over three seasons, Henderson found the hole and sprinted toward a brighter tomorrow.
"I've had to dig deep," he said. "Right now, it's all good."
E-mail Mitch Stephens at email@example.com.
84TH TURKEY DAY GAME
Lincoln 49, Washington 0
Washington 0 0 0 0 - 0
Lincoln 0 21 21 7 - 49
L -Raygosa 19 pass from Marania (Monroy kick),
L - Marman recovers punt block in end zone (Monroy kick), :10
L - Marman 14 fumble recovery (Monroy kick), :00
L - Beverly 45 run (Monroy kick),
L - Henderson 40 run (Monroy kick),
L - Henderson 1 run (Monroy kick),
L - Henderson 70 run (Monroy kick),
W: Barton 19-66, C. Marshall 4-22, Lane 2-9, A. Marshall 2-2, Ogilvie 1-2, Taylor 2-(-2), Butler 9-(-32). Totals 39-67.
L: Henderson 27-242, Beverly 3-54, Marania 2-10. Totals 32-306.
W: Butler 5-15-1-61, Habtu 0-8-1-0. Totals 5-23-2-61.
L: Marania 2-4-0-30.
W: Barton 2-22, Taylor 1-21, A. Marshall 1-13, Walker 1-5.
L: Raygosa 1-19, Paolucci 1-13.
First downs: Washington 9, Lincoln 14.
Total yards: Washington 128, Lincoln 336.
Turnovers: Washington 4, Lincoln 1.
Penalties: Washington 13-60, Lincoln 11-87.
TURKEY DAY GAME TOTALS
Galileo 15, Poly 15, Lowell 14, Balboa 9, Washington 8, Lincoln 7, St. Ignatius 6, Mission 5, McAteer 3, Commerce 1, Wilson 1
TURKEY DAY GAME WINNERS
1966: St. Ignatius
1963: St. Ignatius
1962: St. Ignatius
1958: St. Ignatius
1956: St. Ignatius
1945: St. Ignatius