Sept. 9--Broad Run at Colonial Forge, 7:30
The Spartans seem to get younger every year; last year's team had 14 seniors, while this year's squad has only five. But in Thursday night's game, Broad Run finally will face a team even younger--Colonial Forge, a first-year school in the Group AAA Commonwealth District that has no seniors.
Sept. 24--Liberty at Park View, 7:30
If only this matchup could have taken place last fall, pitting Park View's single wing offense against the prolific passing of former Liberty quarterback Hank Meadows. Still, it will be interesting to see how Park View, 1998's AAA Liberty District champion, will stack up against the Eagles, one of Group AA's perennial powers. Liberty's run to the AA Division 4 state semifinals last season was its first appearance in the playoffs in the school's five-year history.
Oct. 1--Potomac Falls at Loudoun County, 7:30
Three of Potomac Falls's first four opponents this season went a combined 5-25 last year, but the second half of the season becomes more difficult, beginning with the Panthers' game at Loudoun County. Potomac Falls, which finished 6-4 in 1998 just one year after going 1-9 in its debut season (the one win was a forfeit), wants to make the playoffs with its senior-dominated squad. But games at Loudoun Valley (Oct. 9) and at home against powerful Park View (Oct. 15) will be tough.
Oct. 2--Park View at Handley, 1:30
Spend a Saturday afternoon in Winchester and watch two of Northern Virginia's best high school quarterbacks--and all-around athletes--go head-to-head. Handley senior Lang Campbell (6-3, 190) threw for more than 1,400 yards and 10 touchdowns in 1998 and is being recruited by Division I programs (including Virginia, West Virginia and Purdue), according to his coach, Todd Hill. Park View junior Nick Smith (6-0, 170) last season threw for 986 yards, rushed for 1,041 and is "the best quarterback I've seen in high school football, period," according to his coach, Mickey Thompson. Campbell and Smith also excel in basketball and baseball; Campbell is being recruited by smaller Division I programs for basketball, and Smith was first-team all-Liberty District in all three sports as a sophomore.
Oct. 29--Fauquier at Sherando, 7:30
Fauquier has returned to the Group AAA Commonwealth District, but the Falcons are quite familiar with Sherando, which also has moved to the Commonwealth from the Group AA Northwestern District. The Warriors beat Fauquier, 14-13, in the Group AA Region II Division 4 final in 1997, the Falcons' most recent trip to the playoffs. Fauquier has beaten Sherando only once in six meetings since 1994 (1996, a 7-0 win).
Nov. 5--Loudoun County at Loudoun Valley, 7:30
Loudoun County dominated this rivalry for most of the 1990s, particularly from 1994 to 1996, when the Raiders beat Loudoun Valley four times by a combined score of 201-48. But everything changed Nov. 10, 1997, when the Vikings beat visiting Loudoun County, 40-14, to wrap up their first playoff berth since 1990. That game reignited the rivalry, and the teams split their two meetings last year.