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.”
Other than what appears to be a hiccup of a 23-13 loss to Osbourn (4-4), Hylton has allowed 26 points in six games, most of those in a 35-16 win last week over previously unbeaten Colonial Forge.
Hylton opened the season by shutting out three-time Northwest Region champion Battlefield, the first time the Bobcats had been held scoreless in 73 games.
“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.
Game to watch: Fairfax (5-2) at Madison (6-1), Friday, 7:30 p.m.
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.