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Chantilly wide receiver Justin Carwile makes a catch to set up the winning touchdown in a 26-21 victory over then-No. 3 Westfield in the region final.
Chantilly wide receiver Justin Carwile makes a catch to set up the winning touchdown in a 26-21 victory over then-No. 3 Westfield in the region final. (By Rich Lipski -- The Washington Post)

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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Division 6

Varina (11-1)

at No. 11 Chantilly (9-3)

When: Saturday, 4 p.m.

How they got here: In the Northern Region championship, Chantilly upset then-No. 3 Westfield, rallying for a 26-21 win behind junior backup quarterback Austin Decker. In the Central Region final, Varina pulled out a 21-17 win over Highland Springs.

Playoff history: Chantilly is in the postseason for the first time since winning the Division 6 state crown in 1996. That year, the Chargers beat Kecoughtan in the state semis and George Washington-Danville in the state final. Varina last week took home its first region title since winning four straight from 1997-2000.

Scouting Chantilly: As valuable as regular QB Nate Worek (1,300 offensive yards, 19 touchdowns) has been, the Chargers hardly missed a beat with Decker, who threw for 122 yards and ran for 56. Coach Mike Lalli liked the decisions that Decker made in the option game and in running an offense that features no 1,000-yard rusher, no 1,000-yard passer and no 500-yard receiver. Decker "never gets real excited and never gets overwhelmed by anything," Lalli said. "He's a very confident kid. He just doesn't get rattled really easily." The Chargers boast four first-team all-region players -- center Patrick Madaj, tight end Danny Simms (team-high 28 catches), defensive end Zach Hally and defensive back Austin Morris, all seniors. Junior Antonio Cross and sophomore Torrian Pace have combined for more than 1,400 rushing yards.

Scouting Varina: The Blue Devils' starting quarterback coming into the season was Davon Morgan, who has verbally committed to Virginia Tech. But he was injured in the season opener and only recently returned and has played mostly defense. Junior Justin Thorpe has kept his job as starting quarterback. Varina, which has won 11 straight since a season-opening loss to Gar-Field, claimed first-team all-Capital District choices at 13 spots, including two two-way first-teamers -- senior linemen Jamar Jackson and James Lee. Senior linebacker Marell Evans was the defensive player of the year in the district. The Blue Devils' defense is giving up only 114.2 yards per game.

The skinny: Chantilly has not gotten this far for a while and was 0-10 two years ago, but in another sense, history is on the Chargers' side. A team currently in the Concorde District has reached the past six Division 6 state finals. "One of the things about playing in this district is to get through it you have to be pretty tough and pretty competitive," Lalli said, "and that puts you in a good situation once you do get through the region. We've been playing playoff-caliber teams for the last six or seven straight weeks."


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