Two weeks ago, Oakton's golf team almost blew its chance to qualify for the Northern Regional tournament, and Coach Frank Autry thought he was having a heart attack.
Autry, a well-known area golfer who has won club championships at International and Reston Country Clubs, recently started a club-refinishing business adjacent to his home. But it was not the overwork of a side business that sent him to the hospital with chest pains.
"It turned out I was breathing too much polyurethane," said Autry. "It gave me all the symptoms of a heart attack."
With the coach in the hospital, Autry said, his golfers went into the Northern District tournament "disorganized."
The eventual district winner was West Springfield, which the Cougars defeated twice, by a combined total of 35 strokes, in dual matches. Because they finished in a tie for second with Robinson, the Cougars had to defeat the Rams in a special playoff to earn the second berth to last week's regional tournament at Algonkian Park.
Autry was back in command as Oakton, led by medalist Chris Turner's 75-72 -- 147, defeated West Springfield, 614-650, for the regional title.
Langley, the two-time defending state champion, finished third at 652 and did not qualify for the two-day state tournament, which concludes today at Birdwood in Charlottesville.
Oakton, with senior Brian Murphy (155 in the regionals), sophomore Brian Quackenbush (156) and junior Brian Gallagher (158), went to Birdwood as the favorite, as the Northern Region champion is usually considered.
Osbourn Park's football team, which moved up from Group AA to the AAA Commonwealth District last year, is proving again that last year's 8-2 record at the higher level was not just beginner's luck.
The Yellow Jackets are 6-1 (overall and in the district) and ranked eighth after defeating Potomac last week, 21-15. Osbourn Park's only loss was to undefeated No. 5 Gar-Field, the district leader at 5-0.
"I don't think it was a shocking step up because we always played real tough competition at the AA level," said Chuck Hornfeck, who has coached for 13 years at Osbourn Park, the last five as head coach. "The major difference week after week is the difference in strength of the kids, and the fact that most everyone went to two-platoon systems (rather than using individuals on both offense and defense.)"
Hornfeck has been able to throw a variety of good athletes at Commonwealth opponents this year. Running out of a wing-T, Victor Calhoon, a 5-foot-10, 170-pound senior, has rushed for 683 yards and nine touchdowns. Thomas Keith and Tommy Chambliss both have gained over 300 yards.
Defensively, the Yellow Jackets are led by 6-3, 255-pound senior right tackle Andre Lacey. He had three sacks and was in on 10 other tackles in a 42-17 victory over Fauquier two weeks ago.
"It's obvious how explosive they are," said Potomac Coach Bill Brown, whose team defeated the Yellow Jackets, 23-0, last year. "They use three backs and we had trouble stopping all of them last year. Now, they are a little more experienced and even better football players than they were last year.
"On defense, they have that big No. 77 (Lacey). We had some running plays we thought would work against them, but we couldn't block him for the entire second, third and fourth quarters."
Last weekend's victory was a major one for the overall progress of the program. Last year's meeting with Potomac also came at a stage of the season where both teams needed a victory to remain in the Commonwealth race. Potomac registered an easy victory and Osbourn Park knew there was still progress that needed to be made.
"It feels good to be 6-1," said Cahoon, who also made a key interception against Potomac in the closing minutes as he was inserted for just one defensive play. "This was the biggest win in Osbourn Park history."
Football is a resurging sport at the NCAA Division III Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, N.Y., and athletes from Northern Virginia have been key contributors.
The Merchant Marines, who visit Catholic Saturday, are 5-1 and ranked No. 16 before last weekend's 30-27 victory over Pace. From 1979 to 1981, the academy was 2-29-1.
The school is a member of Liberty Conference, and with a 4-0 league record, has a chance to win a title in the league's first year of existence.
Quarterbacking Coach Dennis Barrett's team is sophomore Skip Azzerita, a 1984 W.T. Woodson graduate. He has completed 50 percent of his passes for 1,007 yards and nine touchdowns. He is coming off his finest performance, having completed 16 of 23 for 239 yards and four touchdowns against Pace.
Azzerita has a 12-3-1 record in his two seasons as a starter. Last year, the academy won the ECAC South regional title.
One of Azzerita's chief targets is senior Boren Chambers of Mount Vernon. He has 17 receptions for an average of 11.3 yards per catch. He caught six passes against Pace, including what proved to be the game-winner with 10:17 remaining.
Defensively, ends Bret Hopkins and Ted Bridges, both sophomores from Robinson, have been instrumental. Hopkins, a starter, has 20 tackles and three fumble recoveries. He is replaced in special situations by Bridges, who has 13 tackles, one sack and a fumble recovery.
Junior safety Len Camou, formerly of Potomac High, has 28 tackles and returned an interception 39 yards for a touchdown in a 31-14 victory over C.W. Post.
Merchant Marine Academy graduates have an obligation to take a job in the industry six months per year for five years. A graduate must also spend five weeks per year for eight years in the Naval reserve.