No. 9 Hylton vs. Ocean Lakes
What: Va. AAA Div. 6 semifinal
When: 3 p.m. Saturday
Where: Virginia Beach Sportsplex
How they got here: Hylton (10-2) won its first Northwest Region title since 2005 with a 23-13 home victory over Colonial Forge. Virginia Beach school Ocean Lakes (13-0), which opened in 1994, won its first Eastern Region title by knocking off defending state champion Oscar Smith, 14-10.
When Hylton has the ball: The Bulldogs’ running and passing games revolve around junior quarterback Travon McMillian (2,373 offensive yards and 26 touchdowns), but senior running back Josh Ronan-Redfearn has 204 carries this season for 1,226 yards. McMillian and junior Terrin Allen-Neal have connected 10 times for 201 yards and two touchdowns in the past two games. Hylton committed eight turnovers in its two losses (to Osbourn and Potomac), so taking care of the ball is paramount. A fumble recovery set up Ocean Lakes’s winning touchdown drive in the region final.
When Ocean Lakes has the ball: Junior quarterback Walter “Churchie” Harold stepped in for injured starter Corwin Cutler (Virginia) after Cutler sustained a season-ending knee injury in the Eastern Region quarterfinals. Harold, the nephew of Virginia defensive end Eli Harold, scored the decisive touchdown in the region final and has thrown for 375 yards and five scores in the postseason. Senior receiver Andre Dessenberg (Delaware) has 21 touchdowns (tied for fifth-most in state history in a season). Junior Brandon Simmons is a 1,000-yard rusher. So Hylton senior linebacker E.J. Levenberry and company could face their stiffest challenge of the season.
Skinny: Hylton has to play at the site where Ocean Lakes won a region semifinal and championship the past two weeks and also has to block standout defensive tackles Demetri McGill (Maryland) and Derrick Nnadi (several ACC offers). But the Bulldogs likely would rather take their chances with Harold than with Cutler, the Beach District player of the year. Unlike in Division 5, the Eastern Region schools do not dominate the state in Division 6. All four regions have won a crown in the past five years.
No. 10 Oakton vs. L.C. Bird
What: Va. AAA Div. 6 semifinal
When: 4 p.m. Saturday
How they got here: Oakton (9-4) won its fourth Northern Region title since 2002 with a 23-16 victory at unbeaten Westfield, a team the Cougars had lost to 28-14 on Oct. 19. Oakton has won three consecutive playoff games by a total of 15 points after losing its last four regular season games by 57 points. Chesterfield school L.C. Bird (12-0) beat Varina, 36-27, for its first Central Region title since 2004. The Skyhawks had lost in the Central championship the past two years.
When L.C. Bird has the ball: Watch for senior running back Paul Robertson, the Dominion District offensive player of the year. He set a school record in the region final by rushing for 329 yards (on 42 carries). He scored three touchdowns, one from 84 yards. Junior quarterback Terrance Ervin set the school record for passing yardage in a season. Senior linemen Martavius Robinson and Jason Shurland and tight end Gary Dorsey were first-team all-district picks. Oakton junior linebacker Bobby Lam and junior lineman Joe Cellini will have to fight through them to make stops.
When Oakton has the ball: Senior quarterback Kyle Downer, a first-year starter, has put together a productive, consistent season to earn the first-team all-region quarterback nod over more touted players. He has completed 104 of 167 passes for 1,302 yards with 12 touchdowns and three interceptions and has rushed for 1,372 yards and 22 scores. Senior Mike Wandey also is a 1,000-yard rusher. Both have all-region senior tackle Chris Durant to thank, among others, for that production. Headed into the Central Region final last week, L.C. Bird was giving up only six points per game, led by linebacker Justin Palimore, the Dominion District defensive player of the year.
Skinny: If Oakton, a team that went 1-4 in the Concorde District, finishing fifth out of six teams, can reach the state final, it will further prove that the Concorde might be the toughest district in the state. Every current Concorde team but Herndon has won a state championship or reached the title game since 2000: Centreville was the 2000 champ and 2011 runner-up. Robinson, which joined the Concorde in 2005, was the 2001 champ and 2004 runner-up. Oakton was the 2002 runner-up and 2005 champ. Westfield won the 2003 and 2007 titles. Chantilly was the 2006 runner-up. Further, Chantilly won the 1996 state title and Robinson won it in 1997.