Game of the Week
Chantilly at Robinson
Tomorrow, 7:30 p.m.
In most late-Octobers, Robinson is the experienced, confident, surging team with lofty postseason expectations and the means to fulfill them. For now, those qualities might better describe Chantilly, the Rams' opponent this week.
The Chargers (6-1, 3-0 Virginia AAA Concorde District) have won five consecutive games, and their defense has given up 33 points this season. Chantilly needs to squeeze out at least one more victory, if not two, to reach the Division 6 Northern Region playoffs for the first time since 1996. That season, current Robinson Principal Dan Meier coached Chantilly to the state title (and beat Robinson in the region final).
Chantilly's next two opponents are No. 5 Westfield and Centreville.
Robinson (5-2, 3-1) had to replace 18 starters lost from its 2005 team, which finished 9-2, and the retooling has been evident. Besides tight losses to No. 4 Good Counsel and Oakton, the Rams trailed Fairfax (1-6) late in the first half and were up only a touchdown on Hayfield (0-8) in the fourth quarter. The game against Herndon (3-4) was tied in the third period.
In addition, the Rams have lost senior center Jon Lalone to a knee injury, and leading rusher Mike Meier, a senior, missed last week's game with a dislocated elbow. His status is uncertain for this week.
"It's hard to just reload when you lose the number of players and quality of players we did," Rams Coach Mark Bendorf said. "I've never had to replace this number of starters, ever, not even close."
Chantilly boasts a wealth of experience, including long-time starters such as quarterback Nate Worek, tight end-defensive end Danny Simms and wide receiver-defensive back Austin Morris. But the Chargers lack Robinson's winning tradition and are only two years removed from an 0-10 season.
"They have more experience being a team playing for the playoffs at this point in the year," Chantilly Coach Mike Lalli said. "This is our first time in that scenario. They're used to it."
Morris sprained his knee against Herndon last week, and his availability is uncertain for the Robinson game. Morris's replacement, junior Justin Carwile, intercepted a pass against Herndon, and Morris's offensive replacement, senior Damont Jackson, has caught a touchdown pass this season, underscoring the Chargers' depth.
Robinson has been in the playoffs nine of the past 10 seasons, the exception being in 1998. After Chantilly, the Rams will face Lake Braddock and Westfield.