For about 10 weeks each fall, as Patriot running back Nick Ferrari-Smith roams the hallways of his Nokesville school, he fields the occasional question from a classmate about the Pioneers’ upcoming game.
Ferrari-Smith — now a senior — has been politely answering the queries since Patriot played its first varsity game in Aug. 2012. The interest from Patriot’s student body has always been there, but with the Pioneers’ recent success, the dialogue has shifted.
“Before, it was more like, ‘Are you going to beat them?,” Ferrari-Smith said. “’Hey, are we going to win tonight? If you’re not going to win, I’m not going to come out [to the game].’ Now, it’s just encouragement.”
Last week, Patriot (8-2, 8-2 Cardinal District) rewarded whoever chose to attend with a 42-35 win over Battlefield — and an offensive outpouring that featured a 350-plus yard rushing day from Ferrari-Smith and platoon mate Jake Caparella.
“I’ve never really been part of a two-punch duo like that from the running back standpoint,” Caparella said.
Ferrari-Smith and Caparella run the same set of plays out of the Pioneers’ multiple offensive front but approach their carries with different mindsets.
“We all just have different tempos,” Caparella said. “He’s more of a speed dude, and I’m just more of a hit-the-hole [guy].”
On inside zone plays, for example, Ferrari-Smith often looks to break outside the numbers once he reaches the second level of defenders. That strategy rewarded him with a 58-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter on Friday.
During a seven-on-seven tournament at the University of Virginia this summer, junior quarterback Cody Agnew realized Patriot’s potential to be a top squad this season. With a fully healthy Ferrari-Smith and Osbourn Park transfer Quintin Reynolds in the fold, Agnew’s crew routed opponents in the offensive showcase.
Patriot will host Robinson on Friday in the Virginia 6A North region playoffs. After scoring six offensive touchdowns against the Bobcats, Agnew sees just one area for improvement.
“I need to stop throwing so many picks,” Agnew said with a laugh. “Everything else on offense seems pretty good right now.”
Woodbridge claims playoff berth with win over Indians
With its 19-6 win over Gar-Field on Friday, the Vikings (6-4, 6-4 Cardinal District) clinched a berth in the Virginia 6A South region playoffs.
America’s top recruit — Vikings senior defensive lineman Da’Shawn Hand — recovered two fumbles.
“We had a goal in mind, and that was to go to the playoffs,” Hand said. “It was a cold game and it was a hard game.”
Woodbridge will travel to top-seeded Varina on Friday.
More on Virginia high school football: