The much-anticipated game between Centreville, the defending Virginia 6A state champion, and WCAC stalwart Gonzaga on Sept. 5 will be televised on ESPNU, adding an extra boost of intrigue to the rare matchup of area public and private school football powers.
During the last few years, WCAC schools DeMatha and Good Counsel have been featured on ESPN’s family of networks as part of an annual high school football showcase, but according to Centreville athletic director Jimmy Sanabria, this year’s game at Centreville will be the first time a Fairfax County football team has played before a national audience.
“I guess I talk a good game,” Sanabria said Friday with a laugh. “We just tried to paint the picture of why this is a big game and how people in this area care about high school football. Another big part was how we went out on a limb to play a public versus private school game because we don’t get any power points in the Virginia High School League ranking system that goes toward the playoffs. They really enjoyed that aspect and we’re excited for the opportunity to play on ESPN.”
Sanabria has started making accommodations for a contest that’s expected to draw a large crowd, including additional bleachers on the track and extra security.
Gonzaga athletic director Joe Reyda also said that the school will sell tickets in advance to help generate even more support and energy around the game.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for both schools and we’re looking forward to being a part of it,” Reyda said.
In order to make the matchup a reality, Centreville Coach Chris Haddock and then-Gonzaga Coach Aaron Brady had to reshuffle their Sept. 5 opponents, T.C. Williams and Dunbar, respectively. Both schools agreed to the swap, resulting in a Sept. 6 contest in which T.C. Williams will host Dunbar.
Brady resigned as Gonzaga’s coach in April to take a head coaching closer to home at Malvern Prep (Pa.) and was replaced by Randy Trivers, who led Northwest to a Maryland 3A state title in 2004. Trivers inherits a talented group that features offensive tackle Richie Petitbon (Alabama commit; second-team All-Met), defensive backs Marcus Lewis (No. 152 overall recruit in ESPN’s 2015 class rankings) and Sammy Morrison (Arizona), wide receiver Jabari Greenwood (Kentucky), Reggie Corbin (Illinois) and junior linebacker Kyle Taylor (No. 174 overall recruit in ESPN’s 2016 class rankings).
While the game will mark Gonzaga’s second contest of the year following its season opener at Neshaminy (Pa.), it will be Centreville’s first after its undefeated run to the state title and No. 1 ranking in The Post Top 20 last season. The Wildcats return 15 of their starters, including All-Met RB/DB/KR A.J. Turner (South Carolina commit), second-team All-Met DB/WR Charles Tutt (James Madison), running back Taylor Boose (Cincinnati), offensive lineman Justin Skule (Vanderbilt) and defensive lineman Jordan Brooks (JMU).