November 24, 2012

The symbolism was almost too perfect — it seemed staged. As balls fluttered, teeth chattered and ribbon-adorned hair became an ever-worsening mess, gusts of wind chased through Falcon Field at Briar Woods late Friday night. A row of banners festooning the stadium’s north end was the first to feel the gales’ might, and within a minute, one sign was torn in two.

Through the wreckage of Briar Woods’s 31-0 rout of Loudoun County in Friday’s Virginia AA Region II Division 4 final, Mother Nature’s timing was impeccable. A banner touting “REGION CHAMPIONS 2011” lay on the stadium’s track for a few minutes in the second quarter, tossed to the ground as if to make room for another. Soon enough, there will be, this one celebrating the fifth-ranked Falcons’ third straight region title and end-to-end dominance.

“When I got here, we were 4-6. From then on, we instilled a mentality that we were going to be relentless,” said senior tight end Cam Serigne, whose Falcons advanced to host the winner of Saturday’s Region I final between Courtland and Smithfield in next week’s Division 4 semifinals. “We were going to be the most hard-nosed football team on the field.”

Briar Woods (13-0) has no doubt been one of the most successful. Friday’s title came with the team’s 27th straight victory, and it was never in doubt.

For the Falcons, having junior quarterback Trace McSorley at the helm eases the degree of difficulty. After Briar Woods’s first drive stalled near midfield, the third-year starter pinned the Raiders at their own three-yard line with a picture-perfect pooch punt. Three plays later, he picked off a pass. Soon after, he connected with Serigne on a slip screen for an 11-yard touchdown and a lead that only got bigger.

“It’s the same thing, week in and week out,” said McSorley, who finished 14 for 18 with 214 yards passing and 85 rushing. “We’ve just got to keep preparing like we have since Day 1.”

Loudoun County (10-3) moved as close as the Falcons 12-yard line on the subsequent drive, but a missed field goal robbed the Raiders of three points they desperately needed to keep the game close early.

Before long, the scoreline took on a shape all too familiar to both sides. In the second quarter, running back Cory Colder punched in a two-yard touchdown for a 17-0 lead. In the third, McSorley added to the lead with a short touchdown run on a draw play. In the fourth, he found Brandon Polk deep for a 35-yard one-handed snag and a 31-0 lead. Afterward, Coach Charlie Pierce said he knew it would be tough to replicate the 45-0 rout secured in Briar Woods’s regular season finale in Leesburg. But this one looked just as thorough.

“The experience factor really helps,” said Pierce, facing the same fence where the Falcons hope to add another banner — a third straight state championship — to their already gaudy collection.

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