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No. 9 Westfield faces big test in Chantilly

By Brandon Parker, and ,

Game to watch: No. 9 Westfield (5-0) at Chantilly (4-1), Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Westfield Coach Kyle Simmons is the first to admit that his Bulldogs entered the season with a number of question marks. Forty seniors graduated from last year’s 12-1 squad, pushing 17 first-year varsity players into starting roles and leading some to call this a rebuilding campaign. But after a 5-0 start featuring a 24-point average margin of victory and a comeback win against Robinson, the Bulldogs don’t look the part of an inexperienced team.

Now, heading into the second half of the season, the Bulldogs will set out to prove if they are cut out for a postseason push. Beginning with Friday’s road contest against crosstown rival Chantilly, Westfield will take on a four-game stretch against teams with a combined record of 17-3.

“It’s a heck of a string of games, but I’m excited to see how we match up against them,” Simmons said. “I think we’re a good team but I’m not sure if we’re a great team yet.”

Just how good the Bulldogs’ defense is will be tested against a Chantilly squad that excels out of the option offense. Led by DeAndre Harris’s 518 rushing yards, the Chargers have totaled 1,474 yards and 17 touchdowns on the ground.

“Westfield is very fast on defense and their line is powerful,” Chargers Coach Mike Lalli said. “We have to be able to handle their pressure with power and speed because we didn’t do a good job of that last year.”

The last meeting, a 40-14 Westfield victory, hasn’t been forgotten by the Chargers, who are hoping to exact some revenge while starting off their Virginia AAA Concorde District schedule on the right note.

“This is a big game for us and it’s all we usually talk about,” said running back Ross Simms, who has scored a team-high seven touchdowns. “Our front line versus their front line will be the hardest part of the game. Both teams want those bragging rights, so we’ve got to come out strong.”

Around the Northern Region

W.T. Woodson, celebrating its 50th anniversary, will host T.C. Williams for homecoming at 1:30 p.m. Saturday and then that night induct its inaugural W.T. Woodson Athletic Hall of Fame class.

Among the football inductees is Andy Heck, who played for 12 years in the NFL and for the past seven seasons has been the Jacksonville Jaguars’ offensive line coach. Another inductee is former Woodson football and wrestling coach Paul Labazzetta, who for the past several years has been a football assistant at Battlefield.

Perhaps the best-known name on the list is former basketball standout Tommy Amaker, who played at Duke and is the head coach at Harvard after stints at Seton Hall and Michigan.

The plan Saturday is for some of the football alumni to run on the field with the current Cavaliers (0-5, 0-2), who the past two weeks have lost Virginia AAA Patriot District games by a total of seven points, with a 10-7 loss to Lee and a 14-10 loss to West Springfield.

“We just want the kids to feel like there’s not any crazy expectations they have to live up to,” Woodson Coach Joe Dishun said. “They’ve gotten better every week and we want to keep that going. Our kids are seeing [the weekend hoopla] as fun.”

The Titans are 1-4 overall and 0-2 in district play. . . .

Edison was the last National District team to knock off Yorktown during the regular season, a 42-10 win on Oct. 9, 2009, the last of five straight victories in the series. To start a new streak, the Eagles (2-3, 2-0) likely will need a standout performance from senior linebacker Jarrett Banks, who had 15 tackles last week against Chantilly. No. 18 Yorktown (5-0, 3-0) boasts running backs M.J. Stewart (620 yards, 11 touchdowns) and Arturo Brown (397 yards, five touchdowns). . . .

Lake Braddock (3-2, 3-0 Patriot District) and South County (1-4, 1-1) have met seven times. Five of those games have been decided by a touchdown or less, including the past two seasons. Five Lake Braddock players have rushed for touchdowns, and five have caught touchdown passes. The only player on both of those lists is senior Aaron Hollins, who this season has touchdowns on a 96-yard kickoff return, 64- and 21-yard passes and a 96-yard run.

Around Loudoun

The first five weeks of Loudoun Valley’s 2012 season did not go exactly according to plan.

The Vikings (2-3, 1-2 AA Dulles District) entered their bye week with a 1-3 mark instead of the 3-1 or 2-2 record they targeted, and entered the second half of the season without starting running back Bryce Wince, who they lost to a broken leg in Week 2.

But through early disappointment, the Vikings found a commodity they hope will ignite a second-half run: Sophomore running back Andrew Cordani.

In his first varsity game, against James Wood on Aug. 31, Cordani eclipsed 100 yards and scored four touchdowns on only seven carries. Last week, he rushed for 227 yards and three more scores in a convincing 43-14 win against Heritage. And on Friday night at Dominion, Cordani will once again be the focus of the Valley offense — and the Titans’ defense.

“They’re a big, strong, physical team. They come off the ball extremely well,” Dominion Coach Karl Buckwalter said. “We’re going to have to come off the ball and not let those guys wear us down, which I think is their forte.”

The Vikings have done just that in their recent meetings against the Titans (2-3, 2-2), which included a 58-7 rout in 2010 and last year’s 21-0 whitewashing. But Dominion, which is coming off a sloppy but essential win at Park View, can also pound the football behind seniors Matt Valenzuela and Garrett Robinson.

“We call him Larry Csonka,” Buckwalter said of the 6-3, 220-pound Valenzuela. “He’s just a horse. He’s a tough, tough kid. And then Garrett gives us that outside threat that you’ve got to contend with.”

“This is probably the best Dominion team that I’ve seen — offensively and defensively — in the last few years,” Vikings Coach Danny McGrath said. “It should be a good one on Friday, we’re not expecting anything less.”

This week McGrath and Buckwalter are stressing the goal of extending the season beyond the next five weeks, or, as both coaches put it, their final 12 guaranteed practices.

Both the Vikings and Titans were shut out of the playoffs last season after making the postseason in 2010, and for one team, Friday’s contest could be a springboard back into the playoff picture.

“We were a little disappointed in the way we started,” McGrath said, “but we have some big matchups down the road and we want to be a team that plays an 11th game.”....

Woodgrove (5-1, 3-1) stormed through its first five games of the season, piling up points and lopsided victories along the way. But Loudoun County snapped the Wolverines’ streak with a 48-7 blowout in Purcellville last Friday. Now the third-year program faces the daunting task of bouncing back on the road against two-time defending Division 4 champion Briar Woods.

The 10th-ranked Falcons (6-0, 4-0) mauled Tuscarora’s vaunted run game last week and will present Woodgrove’s talented offensive line with its biggest test yet as the Wolverines try to create holes for junior running back Josh Sweet.

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