Despite having five games under its belt, Centreville doesn’t exactly feel like a team that’s played half of a football season. The No. 3 Wildcats have breezed through opponents, winning their games by an average margin of almost 43 points and allowing Coach Chris Haddock to rest his starters in every fourth quarter.
Yet for as fresh and confident as starting running back A.J. Turner may feel at this point, he remains able to resist the temptation for complacency thanks to one date: Nov. 16, 2012.
(Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post) - Xavier Nickens-Yzer is part of a three-man rushing attack that has helped the Wildcats average nearly 49 points per game during a perfect 5-0 start.
(Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post) - Centreville’s vibrant student section will be at full throat for Friday’s top-10 matchup.
That was the night when Centreville’s season ended unexpectedly in the second round of the playoffs on a last-second touchdown by an Oakton team the Wildcats had defeated by 21 points just two weeks earlier.
“That Oakton game last year really affected us, because we feel like we should’ve won that game,” Turner said. “We thought since we beat them before that we would just do it again, but we can’t have that mind-set. That’s what’s still keeping us focused now.”
Friday will bring Centreville’s toughest challenge yet when it hosts eighth-ranked crosstown rival Westfield. The Bulldogs are coming off a convincing win against then-No. 5 Stone Bridge in which they produced 17 points off turnovers. Westfield used a similarly opportunistic recipe to beat the Wildcats 40-21 in last season’s meeting.
“They didn’t have to work that hard against us last year because we turned the ball over three times,” Haddock said. “Obviously, we can’t do that against any team, but especially against a well-coached team like Westfield.”
The Wildcats, who are averaging nearly 17 points in the first quarter, hope to jump out to another quick lead and grab the early momentum behind a wealth of playmakers.
Quarterback Scott Walter has been efficient, completing 31 of 42 pass attempts for 631 yards, 12 touchdowns and just one interception. The same can be said for Charles Tutt on defense, who has not allowed a completion at cornerback.
With rain showers expected Friday night and in turn, favoring a downhill rushing style, the play of Turner (nine touchdowns on less than 35 touches) and Westfield tailback Tyler Thrasher-Walker (670 yards and eight touchdowns) will be critical in deciding what could be a statement game for both teams.
“The last few years, Westfield has gotten the best of us, so we’re focused and not thinking about the other games we’ve won this year,” Tutt said. “If we can win a game like this, I think we can really convince people how good we are.”