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Preview: Briar Woods hosts Courtland in Virginia AA Division 4 semifinal

By Jonas Shaffer,

What: Virginia AA Division 4 semifinal

When: 1:30 p.m.

Where: Briar Woods High School

Tickets: $10

How they got here: Briar Woods (13-0) won its third straight Region II title with a 31-0 shutout of Loudoun County. Courtland (9-4), the Region IV champion, topped Smithfield in an 18-15 win marred by a controversial fourth-quarter fumble.

When Briar Woods has the ball: It’s not easy stopping the Falcons, who have been held to fewer than 30 points only once this season. A disciplined line opens up holes for Cory Colder (964 yards, 15 touchdowns) in the run game and keeps three-year starter Trace McSorley (2,336 yards, 31 touchdowns) upright in the pocket. Wake Forest-bound tight end Cam Serigne can split out wide as an imposing target, and wide receiver Brandon Polk has emerged of late as a big-play threat.

When Courtland has the ball: The Cougars’ wing-T offense doesn’t dazzle, but it hasn’t needed to. With bruising fullback Anton Jenkins and agile wing-backs Darien Grant and Brandon Mason, Courtland relies on run after run to get going. Briar Woods’ air-tight defense — the team has posted shutouts in four of its past six games — should put added pressure on quarterback Eric Washington.

Skinny: On paper and in the record books, Courtland arrives in Ashburn as a heavy underdog. Briar Woods will trot out a lineup scattered with major college recruits and prospects opposite an unheralded squad few expected to still be playing. If the Falcons maintain their level of play, the two-time defending state champions should advance for a shot at a third.

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