The Virginia football playoffs officially begin Friday, but in Joe Wilson’s mind, he and his Robinson teammates have been facing playoff-level opposition for weeks. As a member of the always-strong Concorde District and having faced six playoff teams, Wilson believes the Rams have endured the tests necessary to put together a deep playoff run.
“The playoffs will bring nothing we haven’t seen or faced before,” said the senior running back, who has rushed for 639 yards and seven touchdowns despite missing three games. “We’ve seen hurry-up offenses, big-time quarterbacks, bigger players. That’s prepared us for this point in the season.”
Friday’s first round of the 6A North region tournament brings another stiff test in the form of Patriot. The Pioneers have averaged 36.4 points per game behind a balanced attack led by running backs Nick Ferrari-Smith and Jake Caparella (2,116 combined yards) and quarterback Cody Agnew.
The Rams (7-3) have put up a lot of points, too, only their approach has been a bit less high-powered than Patriot’s, meaning whichever team seizes control of the tempo early could gain an advantage.
“Robinson looks like they have the ability to consume big amounts of the clock with how they drive the field, so we’ll need to control them on offense and limit their ability to make plays,” Pioneers Coach Brud Bicknell said.
Working in Patriot’s favor will be a Nokesville home crowd invigorated by the team’s first playoff appearance in just its second season of play. A year after finished 3-7, the Pioneers (8-2) were the lone team to beat No. 7 Hylton during the regular season.
The return of Ferrari-Smith from a knee injury that sidelined him in 2012 and new schemes on both sides of the ball helped the Pioneers shake off a season-opening loss to Forest Park and reel off wins in eight of their last nine games.
“This season has been a little bit of a surprise,” Bicknell said. “From an offensive standpoint, we’re able to get a lot of guys touches, which I think has presented some opponents with problems. We went into this year with a leap of faith, and we hope to keep it going in the playoffs.”