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Oakton, shown in AAA semifinal game last fall in which it beat L.C. Bird High of Chesterfield, Va., meets another regional force, Stone Bridge, tomorrow night.
Oakton, shown in AAA semifinal game last fall in which it beat L.C. Bird High of Chesterfield, Va., meets another regional force, Stone Bridge, tomorrow night. (By Joel Richardson -- The Washington Post)

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Thursday, September 14, 2006

Game of the Week

No. 17 Oakton (1-0) at

No. 13 Stone Bridge (1-0)

Tomorrow, 7:30 p.m.

There was no way of knowing at the time just how meaningful the Stone Bridge-Oakton game was last September in terms of identifying the teams that would go on to represent the Northern Region in the Virginia AAA playoffs.

Oakton, which would tie for third in the Concorde District standings, rallied to win the Division 6 region and state titles.

Stone Bridge, playing its first season in AAA, advanced to the Division 5 state championship, where the Bulldogs lost to Hampton.

No one necessarily expects both teams to get back to their respective state title games -- but then again, no one expected them to get that far last year, either.

That's what makes tomorrow's matchup so intriguing. Are these teams again the cream of the region? Stone Bridge returns most of its offensive standouts; Oakton brings back none of the defensive starters who limited the Bulldogs to a season-low point total in a 28-6 win in 2005.

"We just want to be a little more competitive than we were last year," Stone Bridge Coach Mickey Thompson said. "We struggled to move the football. We did a good job competing on defense, but I never actually felt we were in the game."

Stone Bridge's loss to Oakton marked the Bulldogs' only regular-season setback since the sixth game of 2002.

A punishing team last year, Oakton this season is more inclined to run past opponents than over them. The touchdowns last week in a 41-24 win over Madison were all from long distance: three runs (28, 37 and 52 yards), a fumble return (62), a pass (64) and a punt return (67). Senior Ervin Garner scored on the fumble and punt returns.

Against West Springfield last week, Stone Bridge, led by senior O'Connell transfer Devon Brown and junior Jeron Gouveia, rushed for 346 yards but threw for only 31.


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