The schools are separated by a mere seven miles on the map and one game in the Virginia AAA Concorde District standings. Their last two meetings have been decided by three-point margins, the most recent of which came down to a blocked field goal in the final minute of last year’s Northern Region Division 6 final.
So even though most of the players who take the field for Friday’s matchup between Westfield and Centreville watched the previous meetings from the sidelines, the magnitude of the contest isn’t lost on them.
“Oh man, we’ve got to beat Centreville,” said Westfield senior offensive lineman Joon Yeo, who missed last year’s playoff contest with a knee injury. “It’s a huge rivalry with good players on both sides, so I’m excited.”
Though the Wildcats enter as the underdog, they possess plenty of momentum following last week’s wild 45-31 comeback win against Chantilly. Led by sophomores Charles Tutt (one interception and one touchdown reception) and A.J. Turner (60 rushing yards, two touchdowns and an interception), Centreville erased a 17-0 deficit by scoring on seven of its final eight possessions.
Of course, Wildcats Coach Chris Haddock would rather not see his team spot 17 points to Westfield this week, but he’s encouraged by the momentum built from its last victory.
“We showed a lot of resolve and responded when we had to, and that’s carried over into practice this week,” Haddock said. “Westfield has a lot of weapons and executes well, so it’s more a matter of us focusing on doing our part and doing it well so we can make the game a competitive one.”
In order to beat Westfield for just the second time since 2001, Centreville must be prepared to slow both facets of the Bulldogs’ offense. In last week’s win against Oakton, Westfield adjusted to the Cougars’ focus on the run by taking to the air, resulting in a big night for quarterback Chris Mullins (246 passing yards) and wideout Devon Burns (two touchdowns).
“The name of the game in high school is to kill the run, so we know Centreville might try to plug every hole and play close to the line, kind of like Oakton did against us last week,” Bulldogs Coach Kyle Simmons said. “We’ll just have to continue to trust our offense to break some big plays and trust our defense not to give up on any big plays on the other end.”
To say No. 2 Stone Bridge has been dominant during its last four games might be an understatement. The Bulldogs (8-0) haven’t allowed more than a touchdown in that span, outscoring opponents by a score of 181-26. What’s more scary is that Coach Mickey Thompson said his team is the healthiest that it’s been all season.
Friday will pit the Bulldogs against perhaps their biggest test in the AAA Liberty District when they visit co-district leader Madison. The Warhawks (7-1) have shown a flair for the dramatic of late, twice overcoming second-half deficits to beat South Lakes and Fairfax.
Much of that is a credit to Madison’s defense, which has forced five turnovers in that stretch. A similar effort will be necessary to slow a Bulldogs offense featuring Stanford-bound quarterback Ryan Burns and tailback Sterling Dailey, who has racked up 274 yards and eight touchdowns in the last three games.
“We know the type of team that we’re up against, so we’ll need to try to get a turnover whenever we can,” said defensive back/tailback Jacob Hall. “It’ll be a tough matchup, but we’re confident in each other’s abilities, especially in late-game situations.” . . .
It took eight games but last week, Robinson Coach Trey Taylor says he finally saw it – a complete effort on both sides of the ball that didn’t feature the Rams (4-4) “shooting themselves in the foot.”
Putting up big offensive numbers will be key again in Friday’s showdown at Oakton (6-2), but Taylor is hoping that his defense repeats its stout effort versus Oakton’s high-octane offense. Cougars quarterback Kyle Downer has had his way all season, posting at least one touchdown and 100-plus total yards of offense in every game.
It’s the time of the season when players on teams on the outside of the playoff picture realize their football careers might be waning.
“It’s starting to hit me that these Next 2 weeks could possibly be the last time I’ll ever put on football pads...” he tweeted this week.
It could be. The Spartans have the ninth-highest Virginia High School League power rating among Northern Region Division 6 schools. The top eight teams reach the playoffs. West Springfield’s remaining games are at home against West Potomac (6-2) and at Lake Braddock (6-2).
Washington-Lee (4-4) is a spot behind West Springfield. The Generals play at Stuart (2-6), a team they have lost to the past two years. W-L scored 124 points in the fourth through sixth games but just six the past two weeks in losses to Herndon (1-7) and Hayfield (5-3).
T.C. Williams (3-5) and Lee (3-5) each hold out hope of .500 regular seasons. Lee has scored only 14 points during its four-game losing streak against Oakton (6-2), West Potomac, South County and Lake Braddock. Lee has beaten T.C. in six of the past seven meetings.
Lake Braddock takes a five-game winning streak to Woodson. Junior linebacker Dwight Lomax, a transfer from Fork Union Military Academy, has boosted the Bruins’ defense, which also has benefited from the return of senior lineman Romario Peart, who missed the first half of the season with a broken foot. Woodson junior Jimmy McLaughlin has caught at least one touchdown pass in three of the past four games.
No. 16 Yorktown (8-0) aims for a 24th consecutive National District regular season win with a home game against Mount Vernon (3-5). Yorktown has won seven of the past nine in the series. Patriots junior running back M.J. Stewart has scored 20 touchdowns, overshadowing the fact that junior quarterback Will Roebuck, a first-year starter, has thrown 14 touchdown passes.
Hayfield has given up only 13 points during its three-game winning streak. Senior Nathan Trebach last week had seven tackles, a half-sack and a fumble recovery in a 39-0 win over Washington-Lee, and senior running back David Ackah gained 153 yards on seven carries.