Eric Levenberry, father of Hylton All-Met senior linebacker E.J. Levenberry, was just telling a dozen or so Bulldogs defensive players at a regular film session in the basement of his home Wednesday night about how their defense was being overlooked this season despite giving up only 49 points in seven games
As if on cue, at the end of the two-and-a-half-hour session in preparation for their Virginia AAA Cardinal District home game Friday against Woodbridge (5-2, 3-1), a reporter called for E.J. to talk about the No. 11 Bulldogs’ (6-1, 3-0) defense.
The elder Levenberry answered the phone.
“Ya’ll feel disrespected defensively because you’re not giving up any yards?” he asked the players on hand. They shouted back in unison.
“They have a goal this year,” Eric Levenberry continued. “They want to go down as the best defense in the history of Hylton. They want to give up the least amount of points and the least amount of yards.”
“That win I believe gave them confidence in themselves that they can play with anybody,” Eric Levenberry said. “There’s a camaraderie with these boys, a chemistry with these boys. One of the guys gets beat and they talk a little smack to him, but they don’t talk him down to tear down a guy. They’re saying it to build him up.”
The younger Levenberry, a Florida State recruit, leads the team with 73 tackles. Jack Francis, another senior linebacker, has 36 stops, second-most on the team.
“Setting a goal like being the best defense Hylton has had is a challenge we’re willing to accept and it motivates us to be better,” Francis said.
One of the many emerging young players for the Bulldogs is junior defensive back Lawrence Hunt, who has gained a reputation as a hitter in the secondary. He has 30 tackles, 14 deflections, three interceptions and two fumble recoveries.
The game against Woodbridge very well could come down to a key defensive stop. The teams’ last three meetings have been decided by a touchdown or less.
Never mind what the schedule says — in the eyes of Fairfax Coach Kevin Simonds, the playoffs start Friday with a road matchup against Madison. Along with No. 2 Stone Bridge (7-0), the Rebels and Warhawks are tied for first with 4-0 marks in Virginia AAA Liberty District play, but this logjam will soon be cleared as they face each other during the next three weeks.
Fairfax’s focus this week has been controlling possession and field position. The Rebels are familiar with Madison’s knack for gaining momentum through turnovers, and they plan to depend on sure-handed running back Nick Scott to keep the ball away from the Warhawks.
The junior transfer from Massachusetts leads Fairfax in rushing yards (555), receiving yards (188) and touchdowns (eight). In last week’s win against Jefferson, Scott surpassed the century mark on the ground and in receiving.
“We know Madison is a great defensive team, so it starts with taking care of the ball,” Scott said. “We feel like with the work we put in practice, we have what it takes to capitalize on our opportunities.”
Following his 138-yard, two-touchdown performance two weeks ago in a win against Chantilly, Westfield’s Dalaun Richardson was quick to give his offensive line credit. It sounds cliché, but the junior tailback knows his shifty speed isn’t totally responsible for his team-high 907 rushing yards this season. How else would you explain what happened last week, when the No. 7 Bulldogs totaled 378 yards and five touchdowns on the ground during a 49-0 shutout of West Potomac?
“The running backs do a good job of giving us shout outs, which we appreciate,” Bulldogs senior lineman Jason Beylor said. “For us, it’s all about fundamentals because that’s what helps put us in the right spot to make plays and open up holes.”
Trust has also played a vital role in the success among Westfield’s offensive line, which features only one returning starter in Joon Yeo.
“We tell the running backs to be patient and let the holes develop,” Yeo said. “A lot of times in the NFL, you will see guys bounce outside for a run, but we tell our guys to not bounce out and trust that we will give them the room that they need to run.”
It’s all made for a 7-0 start as the Bulldogs enter Friday’s pivotal Virginia AAA Concorde District game against Oakton (6-1, 1-1). ...
When Chantilly’s coaches told Sean Huelskamp during the preseason that he would not only be moving from outside to inside linebacker but also line up at tight end, the senior didn’t know what to expect. He simply accepted the challenge and figured he’d learn the details on the fly.
Now seven games into the season, it’s clear that Huelskamp is a quick study.
In the past two contests, Huelskamp has caught seven passes for 176 yards and four touchdowns while returning one interception for a score on defense.
“I find myself having to think more on offense, whereas on defense I moreso react to the plays,” said Huelskamp, who has attracted interest from Temple and Delaware. “On both sides of the ball, I just try to make the most of every opportunity.”
The Chargers (5-2, 1-1) are taking the same approach to their final three games with a playoff position on the line. A defense that forced five turnovers in last week’s win against previously undefeated Oakton will look to have another big night during Friday’s contest at Centreville (5-2, 1-1).
Huelskamp said the main focus will be stopping Wildcats tailback A.J. Turner, who has the ability to turn runs and receptions into big plays. Two weeks ago, Turner racked up 108 receiving yards while in last week’s win against McLean, he rushed for a season-high 195 yards. ...
After nearly every play during Herndon’s practice on Tuesday, Hornets Coach Brian Day relayed the same message to his defense: “Wrap him up.”
Day wants these three words ingrained in each of his defenders’ heads come Friday, when the Hornets (1-6, 0-2) travel to take on a Robinson team featuring the area’s rushing leader in Joe Wilson. Most of the junior’s 1,548 yards this season have come after first contact, making proper tackling a must for the Hornets.
This week’s practices have been buoyed by last week’s result, as Herndon won its first game of the year, 20-6, against Washington-Lee on Homecoming. The Hornets displayed some of the offensive balance that Day has been striving for, with Denzel Weaver rushing for two scores and Zach Goldsby throwing for another in victory.
On the other hand, Robinson (3-4, 1-1) is looking to rebound from last week’s loss to Lake Braddock. Despite 121 yards from Wilson and an early 7-0 lead, the Rams struggled offensively, turning the ball over twice and mustering only four first downs in the second half.
Still, the Hornets know better than to dismiss Robinson’s offensive firepower, which has produced 40-plus points in two of its three wins. ...
Stone Bridge defensive end Jonathan Allen and quarterback Ryan Burns will receive their U.S. Army All-American Bowl jerseys at a Nov. 2 school ceremony. The seniors make up two of five area players selected to play in the prestigious game held Jan. 5 at the Alamodome in San Antonio. The full roster can be found here. ...
Hayfield (4-3) has knocked off Washington-Lee (4-3) in three of the past four meetings by a combined 99-7. Hayfield this season has beaten teams that are 6-22 and has lost to teams that are 18-3. Hawks junior quarterback Ellis Knudson (1,204 yards, 10 touchdowns, four interceptions) has thrown for at least 87 yards in each game. Washington-Lee’s three-game winning streak was snapped last week in a 20-6 loss to previously winless Herndon. ...
Edison (3-4) has beaten Mount Vernon (3-4) in seven of the past eight meetings. The teams Edison has lost to are 20-8. Eagles senior Jaquez Jeter needed only five carries to gain 195 yards last week against Stuart. ...
It’s West Springfield’s turn to beat South County. The Spartans (5-2) have won the game in 2006, 2008 and 2010 and South County (2-5) has won in 2007, 2009 and 2011. South County junior quarterback David Symmes threw for three touchdowns (all to senior Aaron Jackson) and ran for two last week in a 57-6 win over Lee. ...
At West Potomac (5-2), W.T. Woodson (2-5) will aim for its third consecutive win after topping T.C. Williams and Annandale the past two weeks. Woodson has not won three straight since 2009. West Potomac is coming off a 49-0 loss to No. 7 Westfield, the Wolverines’ most lopsided defeat since a 72-7 loss to Robinson on Oct. 1, 2004. Against Westfield, West Potomac junior running back Demornay Pierson-El (18 touchdowns) accumulated 127 offensive yards but was kept out of the end zone for the first time this season.
No. 17 Yorktown (7-0) has beaten Falls Church (2-5) in six straight meetings. Only one of Yorktown’s victories has been over a team with a winning record. Junior M.J. Stewart could top the 1,000-yard mark in this game. He has 941 yards (on only 92 carries) this season.
The first five losses this season for Annandale (1-6), which plays at T.C. Williams at 1 p.m. Saturday, were to teams that are 26-9. The Atoms’ last four games, including a 14-7 loss last week to Woodson, are 9-19. T.C. (2-5) snapped a five-game losing streak with a 24-7 win last week over West Springfield. Annandale has beaten T.C. the past three years.
Two recently dominated series could be flipped Friday night in the Prince William County area.
Potomac (4-3) has lost six in a row to Gar-Field (2-5) and No. 18 Stonewall Jackson (7-0) has lost seven in a row to Osbourn (4-4), by a combined 307-90. Potomac and Stonewall would be considered the favorites in the games. Other than No. 11 Hylton, Potomac is the only Virginia AAA Cardinal District team that has not lost a district game. Stonewall plays its last three games on the road after five consecutive home games.
Take away Freedom-Woodbridge’s overtime win over Freedom-South Riding and the Eagles (1-6) have been outscored 256-7 this season. They play Osbourn Park (3-4), which has won all five games in the series.