Coaches in new places
Coaching changes are part of football, and this season there are new coaches at storied programs and rebuilding ones alike. By putting their own mark on the varied teams they’re taking over, new coaches could shape the landscape of the season.
One of the more significant changes was Aaron Brady stepping down at Gonzaga. Brady’s replacement, Randy Trivers, comes into a good situation, as the Eagles return a wealth of talent, including offensive lineman and Alabama commit Richie Petitbon.
2014 HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PREVIEW:
Other new coaches are coming to schools in rebuilding years. While Quince Orchard is a perennial contender in Montgomery County, first-year Coach John Kelley inherits a Cougars program that has just four starters returning on both sides of the ball. At Wootton, Eddie Tolliver takes over a team that lost six of its top players, including wide receiver Trevon Diggs to Avalon, where former Wootton coach Tyree Spinner has accumulated a group of talented transfers. Park View’s new coach, Mick Mullins, who was an assistant at the school before leading Freedom-South Riding for four years, inherits a Patriots team that went just 2-18 over the last two years.
Some coaching changes will bring major changes to teams’ style of play. Mike Dougherty spent the last six seasons at Stonewall Jackson, where he turned the Raiders into perennial contenders with an up-tempo offense that averaged more than 32 points in 2013. Now at W.T. Woodson, Dougherty brings his high-octane spread offense with him.
Dougherty said the biggest challenge in his new coaching role is getting players acclimated to the tempo of his offense, but he is encouraged with the progress.
“We practice twice as fast as we play,” Dougherty said. “If you were to video us on day one and video us now, it’s two different teams.”
Another offensive-minded coach, Eric Henderson, took over at Hayfield after serving as the offensive coordinator at Lake Braddock. Henderson will look to infuse elements of a Bruins offense that scored nearly 46 points per game into a Hawks offense that averaged nearly 25 per game. — Isabelle Khurshudyan
The Post Preseason Top 20
1. Centreville (2013 record: 15-0, final 2013 ranking: No. 1) Led by All-Met RB and South Carolina commit A.J. Turner, the Wildcats return 15 starters in their quest to defend the Virginia 6A title.
2. Gonzaga (6-5, NR) After being decimated by injuries last year, the Eagles hope to win first WCAC title since 2002 behind a senior class featuring five Football Bowl Subdivision commits.
3. Northwest (12-2, No. 3 ) The Jaguars return the majority of their starters, including junior QB Mark Pierce, as they look to repeat as Maryland 4A champions.
4. DeMatha (11-1, No. 2) After graduating 20 of their starters from a year ago, the defending WCAC champion Stags will look to younger talent such as juniors Lorenzo Harrison and Shane Simmons.
5. Westfield (11-3, No. 7) The perennial power Bulldogs are poised for another deep playoff run behind senior stalwarts James Gibson at safety and RB Evan Gray.
6. Briar Woods (13-2, No. 4) Penn State WR commit Brandon Polk and TE Mark Birmingham are playmaking threats for the Falcons, who are seeking a return trip to the Virginia 5A final.
7. Wise (7-4, NR) The 2012 Maryland 4A champs have reloaded after a first-round playoff exit and should ride size and talent to the top of Prince George’s 4A.
8. St. John’s (9-3, No. 15) Fresh off their first WCAC title game appearance since 1991, the Cadets return six starters on each side of the ball, including versatile playmaker Ayron Monroe.
9. Broad Run (9-4, No. 20) After reaching last year’s Virginia 5A North region semifinals, the Spartans return 14 starters, including senior QB Brady Reitzel and hard-hitting safety Chuck Davis.
10. Patriot (8-3, NR) Following their first playoff appearance, the Pioneers hope their third varsity season is the charm with experienced talent in QB Cody Agnew and WR Nick Mathews.
11. Bullis (9-1, NR) Headlined by highly touted junior QB Dwayne Haskins Jr., the defending IAC champs return a wealth of FBS-caliber talent in hopes of defending their crown.
12. Good Counsel (6-5, NR) For the first time since 2009, the Falcons open the season without the WCAC title in their possession — a motivating factor for a team that features a strong defense.
13. Patuxent (13-1, No. 6) After eclipsing 3,200 combined yards passing and rushing, QB Tyler Crounse returns for his senior season to help the Panthers better last year’s finish as Maryland 2A runner-up.
14. Damascus (9-2, NR) Led by All-Met WR-DB and South Carolina commit Jalen Christian, the Swarmin’ Hornets lost just three starters from last year’s playoff team.
15. Lake Braddock (12-1, No. 8) QB Kyle Edwards is tasked with replacing All-Met Offensive Player of the Year Caleb Henderson, but he’ll have help in RB Dejoun Lee and All-Met WR A.J. Alexander.
16. Hylton (10-2, No. 12) With the graduation of dual-threat QB Travon McMillian, the Bulldogs will turn to All-Met offensive lineman Matt Burrell as the anchor for their offense.
GAMES TO WATCH:
Hylton at Stonewall Jackson, 7:30: The Prince William County schools will rekindle their rivalry early in the season, with Hylton having won the past three meetings. Two of the nation’s top linemen will face off as Hylton blocker Matt Burrell takes on Stonewall Jackson defender Tim Settle in the trenches.
Glenelg at River Hill, 7: Long the top team in Howard County, the Hawks look to start their season with a victory over a Glenelg team that posted the county’s best regular season record in 2013. The Gladiators feature all-state OL David Robbins, who will match up with River Hill all-county lineman Tyler Smith.
Gonzaga at Centreville, 8: The area’s two top-ranked teams face off in a rare public vs. private school matchup that will be televised on ESPNU. The game will feature nine FBS commits, including Alabama recruit Richie Petitbon of Gonzaga and Centreville running back Taylor Boose, who is committed to Cincinnati.
Old Mill at Arundel, 6:30: The high-octane Wildcats ended the Patriots’ bid for a perfect season by knocking Old Mill out in the first round of the Maryland 4A East playoffs a year ago. Both teams are primed to challenge for Anne Arundel County supremacy yet again.
Damascus at Quince Orchard, 6:30: The Swarmin’ Hornets lost to the Cougars by a single point last fall, but with Quince Orchard returning only four starters on both sides of the ball, All-Met WR-DB Jalen Christian and Damascus could be poised for a different result.
Broad Run at Stone Bridge, 7:30: The Spartans pulled the upset at Stone Bridge in a Virginia 5A North region quarterfinal — their first win over their Ashburn rivals. Stone Bridge will look to contain QB Brady Reitzel with DT Aaron Crawford (North Carolina) and an aggressive defense.
Lake Braddock at Westfield, 7:30: Scoring drives in the final minute decided each of these teams’ two meetings last season, with Westfield having the last laugh, halting the Bruins’ undefeated run in the Virginia 6A North region semifinals. Expect more fireworks when these two perennial powers face off again.
Gwynn Park at Douglass, 2: Gwynn Park beat its Prince George’s 2A rival twice last year, including in the playoffs. Since 2004, the Yellow Jackets have a 7-6 edge in the head-to-head series. This could be another Maryland 2A South playoff preview.
Friendship Collegiate at Bullis, 7: When the schools last met in 2007, the Knights rolled to a 34-0 rout. Led by heralded prospect Dwayne Haskins Jr. at QB, the Bulldogs will look to turn the tables on a graduation-depleted but always tough Friendship squad.
17. Eleanor Roosevelt (6-4, NR) The Raiders should challenge for the Prince George’s 4A title, thanks to athleticism at the skill positions and top recruit Isaiah Prince, who will anchor a strong offensive line.
18. Gwynn Park (11-1, No. 9) The Yellow Jackets return plenty of experienced talent — particularly receiving weapons Kimothy Bynum and Davonte Young — ready to replace the pieces lost to graduation.
19. River Hill (10-3 , No. 17) Though the Hawks graduated 14 of their starters from last year’s Maryland 3A semifinalist, they will again reload in their attempt for a third state title since 2011.
20. H.D. Woodson (11-3, No. 18) Despite the graduation of All-Met D’Andre Payne, the reigning Turkey Bowl and DCSAA Class AA champs return QB Rashad Cooper and stout cornerback DuWayne Johnson.
Big names on the line
Even after losing Rivals.com’s top-rated recruit in the country in All-Met Defensive Player of the Year Da’Shawn Hand, the Washington area is loaded with linemen again.
With Hand at Alabama after his stellar career as a defensive end at Woodbridge, it’s time for a new class of offensive and defensive linemen to take over the spotlight, and several of them already have made oral commitments to college programs.
The commitments include standout offensive linemen in Gonzaga’s Richie Petitbon (Alabama) and Glenelg’s David Robbins (Florida State). The deep group of defensive linemen recruits includes Stone Bridge’s Aaron Crawford (North Carolina), Centreville’s Justin Skule (Vanderbilt), Quince Orchard’s Adam McLean (Penn State), Bullis’s Jonathan Holland (Penn State), Good Counsel’s Darius Fullwood (Kentucky) and Gaithersburg’s Kamonte Carter (Penn State).
The list of committed linemen will grow as Stonewall Jackson defensive lineman Tim Settle, Hylton offensive guard Matt Burrell and Friendship Collegiate offensive lineman Quarvez Boulware make their decisions in the coming months. Settle, ranked as ESPN’s 15th-best prospect, has trimmed his list to 15 schools that include Tennessee, Alabama, Clemson and Florida State, in that order. Offenses rarely test the mammoth lineman by running the ball in his direction.
Burrell, a four-star recruit, has yet to trim his list of more than 40 offers, but he visited Ohio State, Penn State and Florida State this summer. Burrell possesses a tremendous initial punch and solid footwork.
Boulware is an integral piece on both sides of the ball for a Knights team that graduated 24 seniors and has a top five of Alabama, North Carolina, Wake Forest, Maryland and Florida.
“He’s becoming a lot more vocal, but he’s really a lead by example kind of guy,” Friendship Collegiate Coach Mike Hunter said. “He’ll get in there, and get nasty and get practice going, which makes us a better team.” — Tariq Lee
All-Met Watch: First-team offense
QB Dwayne Haskins Jr. | Bullis, 6-2, 188, Jr. Strong-armed passer reeled in more than 20 FBS offers after leading Bullis to IAC title.
RB Kesean Strong | Potomac (Md.), 5-10, 175, Sr. Speedster scored 22 touchdowns and rushed for more than 1,300 yards as a junior.
RB A.J. Turner | Centreville, 5-10, 180, Sr. South Carolina recruit had 1,287 yards and 32 touchdowns for Virginia 6A champs.
WR A.J. Alexander | Lake Braddock, 6-2, 220, Sr. Two-way threat caught nine touchdowns and intercepted five passes for Bruins.
WR Trevon Diggs | Avalon, 6-0, 168, Jr. Broke out as a sophomore at Wootton with 78 catches for 1,103 yards and 13 total scores.
WR Brandon Polk | Briar Woods, 5-9, 170, Sr. Electric athlete gained more than 1,000 all-purpose yards last year; Penn State commit.
OL Quarvez Boulware | Friendship Collegiate, 6-2, 285, Sr. Versatile blue-chip player has Alabama and Florida in his top five list of colleges.
OL Matt Burrell | Hylton, 6-4, 290, Sr. Highly touted All-Met blocker holds offers from more than 40 FBS schools.
OL Richie Petitbon | Gonzaga, 6-3, 310, Sr. Alabama commit will anchor an offense loaded with highly recruited playmakers.
OL Isaiah Prince | Eleanor Roosevelt, 6-6, 270, Sr. Powerful lineman has offers from Alabama, Florida and nearly 20 other FBS schools.
OL Jauan Williams | Carroll, 6-6, 270, Jr. Talented tackle has length, athleticism and has drawn offers from Florida State and Ohio State.
K Gio Ogo | Meade, 5-6, 130, Jr. Converted eight field goals last season for the Mustangs.
ON THE BUBBLE
Quarterbacks: Cody Agnew, Patriot, Sr.; Antoine Brooks, DuVal, Jr.; Tyler Crounse, Patuxent, Sr.; Matt Gallagher, Battlefield, Sr.; Michael Galvan, O’Connell, Sr.; Nick Johns, Gonzaga, Sr.; David Pindell, Oakland Mills, Sr.; Mark Pierce, Northwest, Jr.; Chuck Reese, Rockville, Sr.; Ramar Williams, McNamara, Jr.
Running backs: Abdul Adams, Wilson, Jr.; Taylor Boose, Centreville, Sr.; Lamik Bumbrey, Herndon, Sr.; Reggie Corbin, Gonzaga, Sr.; Reggie Floyd, Stonewall Jackson, Jr.; Evan Gray, Westfield, Sr.; Lorenzo Harrison, DeMatha, Jr.; Amaru Major, Surrattsville, Sr.; Anthony McFarland, DeMatha, So.; Noah Reimers, Tuscarora, Sr.; Tyler West, Langley, Sr.; Devonte Williams, Bullis, Sr.
Wide Receivers: Mark Birmingham, Briar Woods, Jr.; Tino Ellis, DeMatha, Jr.; Jabari Greenwood, Gonzaga, Sr.; Eric Kumah, Forest Park, Jr.; Nick Mathews, Patriot, Sr.; Will Mejia, Falls Church, Sr.; Camari Murray, McNamara, Jr.; Myles Robinson, Good Counsel, Sr.; Scotty Washington, St. John’s, Sr.
Offensive linemen: David Forney, Georgetown Prep, Sr.; Levon Livingston, Ballou, Sr.; Richard Merritt, Carroll, Jr.; Kainoa O’Connor, Centreville, Sr.; David Robbins, Glenelg, Sr.; Justin Skule, Centreville, Sr.; Tyler Smith, River Hill, Sr.; Kendall Trautz, Falls Church, Sr.; JP Urquidez, DeMatha, Jr.; Andrew Vastardis, Stone Bridge, Jr. Kickers/punters: Conor Bouveron, Westfield, Sr.; Aaron Peart, Loudoun Valley, Sr.; Sammy Sergi, Broad Run, Sr.
New schools on the rise
One of the first things Mike Skinner had to do when he took over as Woodgrove’s football coach in 2012 was forget about wins and losses.
The task was easier said than done for a man who had coached Centreville to a state title in 2000 and was already a member of the Fairfax County Football Hall of Fame. But in order to build a pedigree of success at a school that had only been open for two years, Skinner knew he had to bring an element of fun to the field.
The result was friendly competitions at practice and a bet last year that ended with Skinner sporting a mohawk after the Wolverines won their first two playoff games in school history.
“It takes time. Early on, you have to judge things by the commitment of the kids and their work ethic in the weight room and on the field,” said Skinner, who has coached the Wolverines to a 16-8 record over two seasons. “The wins will come, but if you judge everything by that, the kids won’t have fun and the team won’t grow.”
Along with Woodgrove, several other teams in their early stages of varsity play have emerged as contenders. Following its first playoff berth, Patriot enters its third varsity season as one of the area’s top teams with more than 10 returning starters, including quarterback Cody Agnew. Tuscarora has won at least nine games and one playoff game in three of its four years of existence. And Champe, which went 2-8 last year after going winless in its inaugural season, stands to make a leap in progress.
St. Charles (in Waldorf) and Rock Ridge (in Ashburn) open their doors for the first time this fall — but both schools’ football teams have been practicing for weeks. Despite a dearth of seniors, St. Charles will play a full varsity schedule and look to follow the quick ascents of other new schools in the area. — Brandon Parker
Embracing tough schedules
When No. 1 Centreville and No. 2 Gonzaga kick off on Sept. 5, they will be playing in one of the most highly anticipated games in the D.C. area in recent years.
The private vs. public showdown between the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference contenders and last year’s Virginia 6A champions attracted ESPNU. It’s a historically rare matchup of teams from different realms willing to schedule outside their normal pool of opponents.
“With the playoff power-point system for Virginia [public] schools, it can be hard to schedule private school teams because you don’t get any points for that game,” Centreville Coach Chris Haddock said. “But we had a good season and had a number of starters coming back, and as I started talking to some other coaches, it kind of sparked the idea in my head. Ultimately, we thought about how a game against two strong public and private school teams could really be big for the community.”
Though that game is the clearest example, creatively competitive scheduling is taking place throughout the Washington area. Public and private school teams alike are searching for better nonconference competition to boost their profiles.
Wise, the 2012 Maryland 4A champion, will head to Jersey City, N.J., for its season opener at St. Peter’s Prep, rated No. 20 in the nation in the MaxPreps composite rankings.
Riverdale Baptist was perfect in a 2013 Capital Area Football Conference championship season. But relatively less prominent CAFC competition led first-year Coach Caesar Nettles to look elsewhere to schedule teams such as Calvert Hall, St. Mary’s-Annapolis and WCAC up-and-comer McNamara to give his Crusaders a chance to show how they stack up.
“The goal is to play the best programs in the area and get to the point where we can consistently play with them,” Nettles said. “So in order to do that, we have to start scheduling them.” — Chelsea Janes
MORE GAMES TO WATCH:
Avalon at Bullis, 7: This should be the toughest test of Coach Tyree Spinner’s maiden season at Avalon as the transfer-stocked Knights test their mettle against the heavy Interstate Athletic Conference favorite Bulldogs.
DeMatha at Good Counsel, 7: Both schools have combined to win the last 11 Washington Catholic Athletic Conference titles, and this matchup could go a long way in determining who wins this year’s crown. In last year’s WCAC semifinals, DeMatha squeaked past Good Counsel in overtime, ending the Falcons’ four-year reign as champion.
Patuxent at Huntingtown, 7: The Hurricanes’ veteran linebacker corps presents an intriguing matchup against the SMAC’s reigning most outstanding player, Patuxent QB Tyler Crounse. Huntingtown had won five straight in the rivalry until the Panthers’ win last fall.
Centreville at Westfield, 7:30: Separated by just eight miles, the Virginia Conference 5 rivals have ended up meeting in two of the past three region finals. While Centreville returns 15 starters from its 6A title team from a year ago, Westfield has again reloaded behind running back Evan Gray and safety James Gibson.
Wise at Eleanor Roosevelt, 2: Two of the top teams in Prince George’s 4A face off as the Raiders look to prove they are once again ready to challenge for league — and state — supremacy. Perennial power Wise brings back several key players.
Briar Woods at Broad Run, 7: The Falcons visit their crosstown rivals in a rematch of a Virginia 5A North region semifinal double-overtime thriller. WR-DB Chuck Davis is a spark plug for the Spartans, and Briar Woods has experienced weapons around new QB Jake Maffe.
H.D. Woodson at Wilson, 2: This could be a Turkey Bowl preview as Tigers RBs Abdul Adams and Larry Frazier look to pierce the shutdown defense that propelled Woodson to DCIAA and DCSAA championships last season.
DeMatha at Gonzaga, 2: After dropping four straight matchups, DeMatha has won the past two meetings in this storied WCAC rivalry. The Eagles’ defense, behind highly touted safety Marcus Lewis, will be tested by DeMatha’s rushing duo of junior Lorenzo Harrison and sophomore Anthony McFarland.
Lake Braddock at South County, 7:30: The Virginia Conference 7 title will likely be on the line in this game between two of the area’s top offenses. The Bruins feature highly touted wide receiver A.J. Alexander, while bruising rusher Robert Avery powers South County’s attack.
Quince Orchard at Northwest, 6:30: In this rematch of last year’s Maryland 4A West region final, physical lineman Adam McLean and Quince Orchard will look to topple the defending state champion Jaguars, led by returning QB Mark Pierce.
Arundel at Meade, 6:30: This rematch of the 2013 Maryland 4A East final — won by Meade — could have major playoff implications. Quarterback Anthony Messenger leads an experienced Wildcats offense into Fort Meade looking to avenge last November’s defeat.
Patriot at Battlefield, 7:30: Patriot opened its doors three years ago, drawing many of its students from Battlefield’s former district. Since then, the Pioneers have grown into a contender, rallying around three-year starting QB Cody Agnew, while Battlefield boasts its own experienced signal caller in senior Matt Gallagher.
Parity in D.C., Maryland 4A
Perennial District public school powers H.D. Woodson and Dunbar have won 16 of the past 17 Turkey Bowl titles. In five of those games, they faced off against one another.
But with the restructuring of the D.C. public schools into two divisions, Stars and Stripes, each team can play the five other programs in its league at least once, and the District of Columbia Interscholastic Athletic Association has experienced a newfound parity with more closely matched teams playing each other more regularly.
The Stars teams contend for the annual Turkey Bowl, while the Stripes teams close the season with the Gravy Bowl. McKinley Tech won the first Gravy Bowl title last season.
Wilson reached the Turkey Bowl last season, and it is highly touted by area coaches again this year. H.D. Woodson, the defending Turkey Bowl champions, and Dunbar will be good again, too.
Maryland 4A is also wide open. Traditionally dominant teams such as Quince Orchard, Wise, Old Mill will be strong, but those programs lost coaches, stars, or both. In Prince George’s County, Eleanor Roosevelt and DuVal are both built for deep playoff runs, and Suitland, last year’s 4A state runner-up, lost a lot to graduation but should contend again. In Anne Arundel County, last year’s Maryland 4A East champion Meade lost major talent, and Old Mill and Arundel are both talented enough to play into December.
Returning Maryland 4A champion Northwest may be the slight favorite among the Montgomery County teams, but parity is the story in Maryland’s highest classification. — Chelsea Janes
All-Met Watch: First-team defense
DL Darius Fullwood | Good Counsel, 6-3, 240, Sr. Explosive Kentucky commit is a handful to block along the edges.
DL Adam McLean | Quince Orchard, 6-2, 290, Sr. Penn State commit recorded 47 tackles, including 10 for loss, and seven sacks last season.
DL Tim Settle | Stonewall Jackson, 6-2, 307, Sr. Arguably the area’s top recruit, All-Met had five sacks and 32 tackles for loss as a junior.
DL Shane Simmons | DeMatha, 6-3, 225, Jr. Returning starter ended widespread recruitment by committing to Penn State in July.
LB Keandre Jones | Good Counsel, 6-3, 200, Jr. One of the nation’s top-rated juniors is strong on blitzes and in coverage.
LB Tanner Karafa | Stone Bridge, 6-4, 235, Sr. Boston College commit totaled 24 tackles in just two starts at linebacker.
LB Chad Smith | Dominion, 6-4, 220, Sr. Physical Clemson recruit recorded 72 tackles and three sacks last season.
DB Jalen Christian | Damascus, 5-10, 175, Sr. South Carolina commit excels on both sides of the ball, scoring eight times as a junior.
DB Chuck Davis | Broad Run, 5-10, 170, Sr. Hard-hitting safety holds offers from Hawaii, North Carolina and Wisconsin.
DB DuWayne Johnson | H.D. Woodson 6-2, 170, Sr. Displays great speed in coverage for DCSAA Class AA champs; Virginia Tech commit.
DB Marcus Lewis | Gonzaga, 6-0, 195, Sr. Strong coverage and blitzing ability has led to offers from more than 25 FBS schools.
DB Ashton White | McNamara, 5-11, 185, Sr. Notre Dame recruit returns to Mustangs after playing at Friendship Collegiate last year.
ON THE BUBBLE
Defensive linemen: Eric Assoua, St. John’s, Sr.; Jon Bateky, Poolesville, Sr.; Miles Brown, Sidwell Friends, Sr.; Kyree Campbell, Freedom-Woodbridge, Jr.; Bryan Capozzoli, Briar Woods, Sr.; Kamonte Carter, Gaithersburg, Sr.; Aaron Crawford, Stone Bridge, Sr.; Terrance Davis, DeMatha, Jr.; Amir Fenwick, Douglass, Sr.; Jonathan Holland, Bullis, Sr.
Linebackers: Josh Ammon, Bishop Ireton, Sr.; Jack Clancy, Westfield, Jr.; Jamarkeus Hammond, Meade, Sr.; Jamaal Jones, H.D. Woodson, Sr.; Tyler Love, Centreville, Sr.; Kareem McDonald, Wilson, Sr.; Bryce Nalls, South County, Sr.; Diondre Wallace, Arundel, Sr.; Malachi Washington, Westlake, Sr.
Defensive backs: Juwuan Briscoe, Thomas Stone, Sr.; James Gibson, Westfield, Sr.; Tyler Green, DeMatha, Sr.; Craig Jones, Reservoir, Sr.; Ayron Monroe, St. John’s, Sr.; Sammy Morrison, Gonzaga, Sr.; Cortrelle Simpson, Lackey, Sr.; Charles Tutt, Centreville, Sr.; Myles Wolfolk, Wise, Jr. email@example.com