With a week left in the first regular season of the nineties, several teams remain in playoff contention. But, alas, only eight teams will ultimately earn post season playoff berths, the rest falling victim to the numbers game.
And, speaking of numbers. In an effort to enlighten area high school fans with a series of meaningless facts, the weekly staff experienced a numbers crunch of its own. So the next time you're at a party with absolutely nothing to say to the person next to you, why not break the ice by mentioning that West Springfield's loss to T.C. Williams last week was not unexpected. Since Glenn Furman became coach at T.C. in 1982, the Spartans are 0-9 against the Titans and have been outscored, 264-43.
If that doesn't work, try these:BEST OF TIMES
The odds are good that T.C. Williams will end the regular season unbeaten for the third time in Furman's nine seasons. The Titans lone obstacle to finishing as the only undefeated team in the region is Oakton, a team they have beaten seven of the last eight years and outscored, 189-27, in that span.
In fact, since 1980 the region has had at least one unbeaten team every year except 1982 and 1986. West Potomac (1989) and T.C. Williams (1984, 1987) posted 14-0 marks in claiming state championships. Robinson (1988), Herndon (1985), Stuart (1983) and McLean (1980) posted perfect 10-0 regular-season marks. W.T. Woodson was 9-0-1 in 1981. WORST OF TIMES
Every team in the region has won at least once this season, a fact matched only once since 1980 when every team went home happy at least once in 1986. In 1985, three teams -- Lee, Fairfax and Oakton -- struggled through a winless fall, although the Lancers and the Cougars managed to tie a game.
For Hayfield, the early nineties look to be much more successful than the early years of the previous decade. The Hawks, one of this season's better teams, were winless in 1981 and 82 and dating back to 1980, had lost 27 straight, the worst run of the decade. Langley opened the eighties with a winless season and Washington-Lee and McLean matched the infamous feat in 1983, although a 16-16 tie between the two left each team 0-9-1. McLean, in fact, was also winless in 1987 and 1988, which brings us to our next useless tidbit. REMEMBERING ERIC
In Eric Dorsey's last two years at McLean the Highlanders won 15 games -- the same number of games they've won in the nine years since the current New York Giants star graduated. In 1980, McLean was unbeaten before losing its only playoff game of the decade. A year later, with Dorsey leading the way, the Highlanders posted a 5-4-1 mark. Then it was off to Notre Dame for Dorsey and the beginning of the end for the Highlanders who are 15-71-2 since. DISTRICT DOPE
T.C. Williams has won seven Northern District titles in nine years. In that time, The Titans are 39-5-2 in the district under Furman and Lake Braddock owns three of the five defeats. All of Braddock's wins came consecutively, including two one-point decisions last year. The Titans are 8-0-1 against W.T. Woodson, 9-0 against West Springfield, 7-1 against Oakton and 7-1-1 against Robinson. In addition to the 7-7 tie against Robinson in 1982, four of the other eight games were decided by five points or less. Robinson's victory was a resounding 36-0 rout in 1988, the year the Rams were state runnersup.
West Potomac has owned the Gunston District since becoming a school in in 1985. The Wolverines have not lost to Edison, Hayfield or Jefferson and are 23-3 against district rivals. Mount Vernon owns two of the victories as the Majors triumphed in 1985 and 86. Lee won the Gunston in 1988, defeating West Potomac along the way. In 1987, the Wolverines defeated all four district foes by a combined score of 140-0. OUT OF LEAGUE EXPERIENCE
This season the Northern is the only district which holds the upper hand on nondistrict rivals. Led by T.C. Williams and Centreville, which have won all eight nondistrict contests, the Northern is 16-11 with one game left. Despite Yorktown at 4-0 and Annandale and Fairfax each 3-1, the Potomac District has only a 13-14 mark against nondistrict foes. The point spread is what one might expect: 1,222 for, 1,241 against. The Great Falls has been the region's soft touch, losing 19 of 28 games and being outscored 1,083-914. The Gunston is 11-13 and has scored 866 while allowing 877. The region as a whole has not fared well when facing nonregion teams. Annandale's win over Fauquier and Centreville's 10-7 decision over Stonewall Jackson are the only successes in 10 tries. TITLE SEARCH
Madison is idle this week but can win the Great Falls District championship and qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 1982 if Herndon loses to Marshall. The Warhawks could have avoided this predicament had it not been for a 1-4 start, which included a loss to McLean.
However, Madison's slow start should not surprise anyone. Since 1980 the Warhawks are a combined 33-22 in the first five games of each season and 44-10-1 after the halfway point. In the last three years, Madison has started the season 4-11 and finished 13-2.
If Herndon defeats Marshall it will win the district by virtue of the VHSL's rating points system. The question is will the Hornets play the Statesmen like they have recently or like they played them the first half of the eighties. From 1980-84 the Hornets defeated the Statesmen four of five games. But in the last five meetings, Marshall is 3-2.
A victory by West Potomac against Lee Friday night would give the Wolverines their third outright Gunston District title in six years. T.C. Williams and Annandale have already clinched the Northern and Potomac District crowns, respectively.
Annandale leads the region with a scoring average of 37.2. It's no surprise as the Atoms averaged more than 20 points in 7 years of the eighties. West Potomac, which is averaging 29.6 points per game this year, has averaged more than 23 points per game in five of its six years. The only year the Wolverines averaged less was 1986, when they averaged 19.2.
Stuart has scored 130 points in nine games this year. In the past two years, the Raiders rolled up 746 points in 23 games, an average of 32.4. The 1988 Raiders averaged of 32.9 points, the highest of the region in the eighties. Stuart's 1989 average of 32.1, included a 40.3 average in three playoff games. Next followed by Madison's 30.8 in 1982, T.C. Williams's 28.9 in 1984, Fairfax 27.4 in 1988 and T.C. Williams's 27.2 in 1987. SCORE BORED
Since 1986, Falls Church is 4-35 and has scored only 266 points. Three teams -- Annandale, Fairfax and Yorktown -- have surpassed that total and West Potomac has equaled it in 9 games this year.
Unless Wakefield scores 50 points in its final game against Fairfax, the Warriors will have scored less than 100 points for the third consecutive season. It's no coincidence that Wakefield's record in that span is 4-25. Last year's 1-9 team scored 87 and the Warriors had 48 in 1988. This year's club has scored 50. The three-year average: 6.4 points per game. The last time Wakefield scored more than 100 points was 1987 when the Warriors went 5-5 and scored 136 points.
THE SECOND SEASON
Despite two straight losses, Hayfield is in position to break a frustrating streak. If the Hawks defeat Jefferson Friday, they will qualify for the playoffs. The Hawks were one of only four teams which failed to make the playoffs in the eighties. Washington-Lee, Oakton and Langley are the others.
In the eighties, Mount Vernon was 7-2 in playoff competetion and posted the best percentage in the region. That includes the Majors 4-0 run to the 1983 state championship. T.C. Williams, which was 12-5 in the playoffs, participated in seven more playoff games than any other team.
Seven teams -- West Springfield, Herndon, McLean, W.T. Woodson, Jefferson, Falls Church and Wakefield -- made only one playoff appearance in the decade. West Springfield won three playoff games in 1980 but lost in the state final to Hampton. Hampton, perennially one of the best teams in the state, also won state titles over T.C. Williams in 1985 and Robinson in 1988.
Though the process of determining the playoff teams was made more difficult since Group AAA was divided into two divisions in 1986, it has been a boon to regional parity. Each of the four districts has been represented by two regional champions since the split. Prior to 1986 and dating back to 1980, the Northern and Gunston Districts had three regional titles apiece while the Potomac and Great Falls Districts had been shut out.
But in the decade, the region's five state titles once again belong to the Northern and Gunston Districts with T.C. Williams winning twice and West Potomac, Mount Vernon and Edison once each.
Eight teams that qualified for the playoffs failed to win a postseason game in the decade. McLean, W.T. Woodson, Jefferson, Falls Church and Wakefield all lost in their only appearance. Madison and Lee advanced twice and lost both and Chantilly was a victim in all three of its playoff contests.
Fort Hunt won the Northern Region title in 1981 then opened the next season with a loss to Falls Church. It would be the Jaguars only win of the year.
In 1982, Mount Vernon won the region championship after posting a 4-6 regular-season record. The Majors eventually lost to GW-Danville in the state semifinals to end the season 6-7.
In 1983, South Lakes was 9-3 but the Seahawks were outscored, 265-258. The reason? A 49-0 loss in the region final to Mount Vernon.
In 1986, the first year that the region was split into divisions, Edison went 0-3-1 in the Gunston and 5-4-1 overall. The Eagles were outscored, 100-93, during the regular season, but in four postseason games, Edison outscored opponents, 67-31, and captured the Division 5 state title.
Jefferson has not enjoyed much success in recent years, but they are consistent. From 1980-86, as a member of the Potomac District Jefferson posted a mark of 28-41 -- 13 games under .500. Since joining the Gunston District in 1988, the Colonials are 15-27. If they lose this week to Hayfield, they will drop to 13 games under .500.
Now that you know all there is to know concerning recent Northern Region history, sit back and enjoy the playoffs which begin next weekend. And remember, it's not whether your team wins or loses, its how many trivia questions it generates.