The first few minutes sure didn’t match up with the hype. Both Hylton and Stonewall Jackson ceded an early touchdown in last week’s season openers. Both fell behind. And both rallied to make the first-quarter follies feel as distant as a preseason scrimmage.
The Raiders – who overcame an interception returned for a touchdown on their first drive of 2013 to pummel Potomac (Va.) 39-14 – travel to Hylton on Friday for a meeting of Prince William County’s most vaunted spread attacks.
The Bulldogs – who pride themselves on their veteran defensive line corps – allowed a 73-yard scoring scamper by Osbourn running back Trayvon Wallace less than 30 seconds after kickoff. Hylton responded by reeling off 38 unanswered points. From carry number-two onwards, Wallace – the Eagles leading rusher – accrued minus-13 yards.
Stonewall quarterback Greg Stroman understands the importance of Friday’s game. But aside from a modicum of motivation, he’s not one for talking.
“I view it as having a chip on our shoulder,” Stroman said. “People feel like we shouldn’t win.”
And you won’t see any Twitter tirades from the Virginia Tech-commit or his teammates.
“The game has to be played, so there’s no reason to talk about it before,” Stroman said. “And after the game, you should be preparing for the next week.”
This week – says Stonewall Coach Mike Dougherty – could boil down to play in the trenches. He believes both teams’ Blacksburg-bound, dual-threat signal callers – Stroman and Hylton’s Travon McMillian — will cancel each other out.
“That’s been our focus all week: getting our offense and defense to understand that we have to play on their side of the ball,” Dougherty said.
Instead of scheming and installing packages to exploit Hylton’s weak spots, the Raiders have spent the week ironing out kinks within their own philosophy.
“You could spend all week looking at [Hylton] on film and trying to find out where they’re weak,” Dougherty said. “And they’re not weak; they’re a pretty strong team.”
Key to Hylton’s success on offense is the big-play strike. If the Raiders bend, but don’t allow McMillian and company to break off home-run plays, it’s a good sign for Stonewall.
“We know McMillian is going to have his plays. “ Dougherty said. “The key for us is limiting the big ones and getting out off the field. . . . Our best defense is going to be our offense being on the field.”
By kickoff Friday, the gravity of a Week 2 matchup won’t be lost on anyone.
“With Facebook and everything, [the players] know,” Dougherty said. “This is one of the biggest games in the state.”
To say that Gary Wortham Sr. inherited a work-in-progress when he took over as coach at Freedom-Woodbridge in 2010 is probably being too kind.
“Coming in, our focus was building structure and leadership,” Wortham said. “We knew the wins would come.”
The Kevin Costner trope has taken awhile to come to fruition. The Eagles went winless in 2011, and won only one game — a 25-22 all-Eagles decision over Freedom-South Riding — last season.
But now, the Eagles are 1-0 after last week’s 21-14 upset of Osbourn Park – the first time a Freedom football team has ever won a season opener.
Mike Gibson carried the load for Freedom, rushing for 170 yards and two touchdowns.
Wortham’s squad is aiming for the first winning streak in the school’s nine-year history when it hosts Osbourn (0-1) Friday at 7:30 p.m. . . .
Forest Park (1-0) travels to Battlefield (1-0) for an intriguing matchup of teams with green junior quarterbacks. Both passers — the Bruins’ Nathan Perrin and the Bobcats’ Matt Gallagher — fared well in their debuts.
Briar Woods (1-0) passed its first Fredericksburg-based examination when it thumped Brooke Point 63-13 last week. Senior quarterback Trace McSorley was 10 of 14 passing with 204 yards and three touchdowns. He also added a scoring run.
Rolling into Ashburn next is defending AAA Northwest Region Division 6 finalist Colonial Forge. The Eagles were 27-20 winners over Highland Springs a week ago.