“The biggest thing I remember is the looks on the seniors’ faces,” Dixon said. “I don’t want to sound selfish, but I don’t want that look and feeling to be on my face or in my eyes.”
When the Panthers (4-6) travel to Stafford for a rematch with the Wildcats in the 5A North region playoffs on Friday, a contingent from that 2012 group – including University of Virginia freshman lineman Donte Wilkins – will be in attendance.
“This win isn’t just for us, it’ll be for the boys from last year,” Dixon said. “Some of them will be at the game, so it’ll mean a lot for us to get that win.”
Those in attendance will see their former teammate starring in an unfamiliar role – starting quarterback.
Dixon saw some snaps as a wildcat quarterback early on this season, but seized the job for good during the Panthers’ 44-0 loss to Hylton on Nov. 1.
“It was obvious we lost our line from last year, and we’ve been having trouble [moving the ball],” said Dixon, who carried 143 times for 783 yards (5.5 yards per carry) and seven touchdowns during the regular season.
“We went through a whole bunch of offensive setups and found out this would be the best one for us to run, because we could use a lot of our skills and put less work on our line. Now they have easy assignments.”
At 5-foot-8, it’s not so easy for Dixon to see over that line. So the Panthers have incorporated a heavy dose of plays that move the pocket.
“For one, I’m not the tallest guy,” Dixon said. “So being in the shotgun helps me a lot. I can see the field better because we do a lot of rolling out. “
Dixon said the Wildcats’ razor thin margin of victory (the game turned on a botched Panthers extra point) gave the Dumfries-area program a motto and mantra during the offseason: one point.
“That’s our motivation right there,” he said. “We’re not going to lose by one point, and we’re not losing this game either.”
One month ago, Stonewall Jackson (6-4) was sitting beaten and bruised in a cold place somewhere outside the postseason cabana. But as the Raiders prepare for No. 19 Washington-Lee on Friday, they do so as one of only a handful of area teams heading into the playoffs fresh off a bye week.
“Last week, we didn’t have a team to prepare for, so we just got better at a lot of individual stuff, and everybody got better at what they do,” Raiders running back Javon Purvis said. . . .
One day after announcing that he will attend the University of Alabama, Da’Shawn Hand and Woodbridge (6-4) will head down to Richmond to take on top-seeded Varina. . . . Forest Park (7-3) will look to extend the best season in school history when the Bruins travel to Patrick Henry in Roanoke. . . . Freedom-Woodbridge’s resurgence meets Broad Run’s model of consistency when the Eagles (4-6) and Spartans (7-3) meet in Ashburn on Friday night.