* SPECIAL OCCASION: From the special-teams-win-games-department: Stafford returned a blocked punt for a touchdown and recovered a fumbled punt to set up a 10-yard scoring possession in its 13-12 home win Thursday over Osbourn Park.
"We tell our kids it's not break time, it's time to go after them hard because special teams can win games for us," Stafford Coach Roger Pierce said. "This gives us some confidence."
To boot, the Yellow Jackets, who had missed an extra point earlier in the game, muffed the snap on a two-point conversion attempt in the final minute after driving the length of the field for a touchdown to pull within one point. They could have started 2-0, which would have equaled their win total from the previous four seasons combined.
Coach Mike Feldman said he had not felt so bad about a game since 1986 when he was an assistant coach at Warwick High School and the Raiders lost, 7-6, to Edison in the Virginia AAA Division 5 state championship.
"It was deafening silence from the missed extra point until [Friday] when we watched the film," he said. "You may lose games getting physically beat, but this was the first time I can recall that our kids felt like they had lost a game.
"It was tough. Tough to watch, and tough to watch it again."
Stafford junior Rashid McCown blocked the punt near midfield that senior Matt Matter returned for a touchdown. Junior Jason Dauch, who made several key tackles from his safety position, recovered the fumbled punt to set up a touchdown by sophomore quarterback Brad Hayes. The win snapped the Indians' six-game losing streak.
One bright spot for the Yellow Jackets was the play of junior Addam Jordan, who had 90 rushing yards and 54 receiving yards and scored both touchdowns. The Indians stopped him at the goal line on what could have been a third TD.
* SHORT WEEKS: Stonewall Jackson and Osbourn, with their Thursday game postponed by wet conditions to 7:30 p.m. Monday at Stonewall, will both have short weeks to prepare for their Friday opponents. Those foes, however, should be well rested.
Stonewall's next opponent is Fauquier, which played Thursday. Osbourn's next opponent is Park View, which played Friday. Osbourn has been idle since its Aug. 27 opener.
In keeping with recent tradition, Stonewall and Osbourn will play each other twice this season. The first meeting does not count toward the Cardinal District standings.
* OH, BROTHER: Gar-Field has two sophomores named Ryan Smith on its team, quarterback Ryan S. Smith and lineman Ryan L. Smith. Because they are of different races, positions and builds, Coach Tony Labozzetta has no trouble distinguishing one from the other.
As for Ryan S. Smith and his twin brother, Justin Smith, well, that's another story.
"If they don't have a jersey on, I don't know who I'm talking to," Labozzetta said. "There are times I'll be yelling at one of them and when I'm done yelling he'll say, 'You want the other one.' "
The Smiths gave their coach something to shout about Thursday in a 35-0 home win over Fauquier. They connected on a 17-yard touchdown pass to complement the play of the team's half-brothers, Larry Atkinson and Jamar Atkinson, each of whom also scored.
Gar-Field sophomore linebacker Frank Brinson injured his back on the third play of the game and did not return. His status is unknown. Junior Greg Johnson made 10 tackles filling in for Brinson. Senior linebacker Nick Nicholson led the way with 12 tackles.
The Annandale-Gar-Field game scheduled for Friday has been bumped to 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Gar-Field. Annandale requested the move after its game at Madison was postponed to Monday.
* GLAD IT'S OVER: Hylton Coach Bill Brown was mighty glad his team got its home game in Thursday night instead of postponing it until Monday. The No. 2 Bulldogs beat No. 20 Friendly (Md.), 30-6, for their 18th consecutive win.
"It takes a lot of stress off you because you worry about preparation," said Brown, whose team hosts No. 5 Dunbar on Friday. "You don't have time for game plan preparation and you don't have time to teach it to your kids. It's a three- or four-day process to teach a game plan and rep it enough so you're confident with what you want to do against that team."
The Friendly game was an example of that. Idle since Aug. 27, Hylton was able to install different defensive fronts to cross up the Patriots. Friendly had played Sept. 3 and had little time to tweak its attack, particularly with such a young team still trying to digest the basics.
The tender ankle that has slowed Hylton safety Chris Fields, who played sparingly against Friendly, has enabled the Bulldogs to try senior Quintin Beltran at that position. He played well against the Patriots, but Hylton still has concerns about its secondary.
"We've played pass defense better than we have been, but we still have to go up for the football," Brown said. "We're letting the ball come down instead of going up after it.
"Early in the season I think defensive backs are too worried about pass interference. Don't let that be the reason you don't make a play. You can't really simulate that in practice the way it happens in a game."
* DEFENSIVE STAND: North Stafford had close to 400 offensive yards in its 35-0 win over Liberty, but Coach Chris Beatty thinks it might have been a defensive play that was most important to the Wolverines.
With North Stafford leading, 7-0, in the second quarter, Liberty drove from its own 12-yard line to the North Stafford 32, chewing more than seven minutes off the clock. On first down from the 32, senior cornerback Jerome Rogers recovered a fumbled snap to halt the drive.
"I think that was really what changed the game, because if they score there, I think they have a better attitude going in at halftime," said Beatty, whose team scored four touchdowns in the third quarter.
The fumble recovery was not even Rogers's highlight. He returned an interception 75 yards for a touchdown. Senior tackle James Belt also picked off a pass. Junior defensive end Ernest Robinson, making his first start, recorded two of the Wolverines' four sacks.
North Stafford was one of only two area schools (Manassas Park was the other) to play Friday night, the beginning of Rosh Hashanah. Prince William County schools are not allowed to play games during the two-day Jewish New Year, but Stafford County and Fauquier County, home to Liberty High School, the Wolverines' Friday opponent, do not have rules barring games during this time. North Stafford Athletic Director Margaret Lowry said she received no complaints about hosting the game Friday.
* INJURY UPDATE: Preliminary reports indicate that Colonial Forge junior defensive lineman Jason Dodd, taken off the field in an ambulance during the game Thursday against Broad Run, suffered a badly sprained knee, Eagles Coach Karl Buckwalter said yesterday.
Dodd was tackling Broad Run quarterback Matt Gordy in the fourth quarter but fell awkwardly when a teammate landed on his left leg. The game was delayed for 15 minutes.
Broad Run won, 26-20, on a 74-yard punt return with 2:55 left for their first win since Oct. 31, 1997.
BY THE NUMBERS
Consecutive games Stafford has beaten Osbourn Park, including an OP victory in '97 that was overturned by forfeit.
Number of those OP losses to Stafford that have been by a touchdown or less.
Consecutive wins Brooke Point had notched in the Potomac series until the Panthers pulled out a 21-14 overtime victory Thursday.
Dist. Over. W-L W-L PF PA
Gar-Field 0 0 2 0 44 7
Hylton 0 0 2 0 49 21
Osbourn Park 0 0 1 1 46 13
Potomac 0 0 1 1 28 29
Osbourn 0 0 0 1 15 26
Stonewall 0 0 0 1 6 44
Woodbridge 0 0 0 2 43 56
Bull Run District
Dist. Over. W-L W-L PF PA
Manassas Park 0 0 3 0 110 53
Brentsville 0 0 2 0 52 30
Strasburg 0 0 2 0 59 14
Madison Co. 0 0 1 1 24 36
George Mason 0 0 1 2 55 42
Clarke County 0 0 0 1 0 42
W-L W-L PF PA
Culpeper 0 0 3 0 79 54
North Stafford 0 0 2 0 79 6
Fauquier 0 0 2 1 27 56
Brooke Point 0 0 1 1 28 24
Stafford 0 0 1 1 23 33
James Wood 0 0 1 2 41 50
Sherando 0 0 0 3 29 98
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
North Stafford wide receivers dropped several passes in the first half of their 35-0 home win over Liberty on Friday. That, in part, led to the Wolverines scoring just one first-half touchdown despite several opportunities.
Coach Chris Beatty called a few short pass routes to start the second half so the receivers could regain their confidence. They not only gained that, but yardage, and lots of it.
Junior Nate Ilaoa finished with seven catches for 137 yards, and senior Paris Edwards snagged five balls for 78 yards and a touchdown. Senior Allen Woodbridge and sophomore Josh Baldwin had three receptions each.
Edwards's touchdown was particularly entertaining because a clipping penalty on the previous play negated his 34-yard touchdown catch and run. Undeterred, Edwards and senior quarterback Chris Ashinhurst connected for a 46-yard score on a similar play.
The 5-foot-11, 183-pound Edwards also racked up 139 yards on five punt returns.
"When I build up speed, there's nothing they can do," he said matter-of-factly.
Just how fast is Edwards?
"Pretty fast? I don't know," he said.
All Ashinhurst knows is that he would not want to play defense against Edwards. The receiver is in his first season at North Stafford after transferring from Pennsylvania.
"He's the best athlete I've ever met in my entire life. Hands down," Ashinhurst said. "I'd heard good things about him. Coming out these past two games the good things I heard about him didn't say enough about him."
"When he has the ball in his hands, I don't think there are too many better than he is," Beatty said.
Liberty had beaten North Stafford the past three seasons.
"Anybody could score from the 10-yard line. Heck, we could line up against Nebraska and get lucky for 10 yards. That's what's so hard about the game."
--Osbourn Park Coach Mike Feldman on his team's fine defensive effort in a 13-12 loss to Stafford. Stafford scored on a blocked punt return and needed to travel only 10 yards for its other touchdown.
Osbourn at Stonewall Jackson, ppd.
Hylton 30, Friendly 6
Stafford 13, Osbourn Park 12
Eleanor Roosevelt at Woodbridge, ppd.
Gar-Field 35, Fauquier 0
Potomac 21, Brooke Point 14 (OT)
Broad Run 26, Colonial Forge 20
Brentsville 29, Luray 16
Quantico 14, North Cross 12
North Stafford 35, Liberty 0
Manassas Park 21, Page County 15
Culpeper 31, Chancellor 28
Handley 28, Sherando 14
Martinsburg (W.Va.) 31, James Wood 7
Wilson Memorial 21, George Mason 0
Madison County 18, William Monroe 9
Strasburg 33, Berkeley Springs (W.Va.) 6
Eleanor Roosevelt at Woodbridge, late
Osbourn at Stonewall Jackson, 7:30
Stonewall Jackson at Fauquier, 7:30
Park View at Osbourn, 7:30
Dunbar at Hylton, 7:30
Woodbridge at Dinwiddie, 7:30
Brooke Point at Osbourn Park, 7:30
North Stafford at Potomac, 7:30
Stafford at Courtland, 7:30
Colonial Forge at Brentsville, 7:30
Manassas Park at King George, 7:30
Virginia Beach Catholic at Quantico, 2:30
Annandale at Gar-Field, 7:30
Quantico at Randolph-Macon, 4
Chantilly at Stonewall Jackson, 7:30
Osbourn at Gar-Field, 7:30
Hylton at Osbourn Park, 7:30
Potomac at Woodbridge, 7:30
Brooke Point at North Stafford, 7:30
James Wood at Stafford, 7:30
Ireton at Brentsville, 7:30
George Mason at Quantico, 4
Hylton at Stonewall Jackson, 7:30
Potomac at Osbourn, 7:30
Osbourn Park at Woodbridge, 7:30
Gar-Field at Chantilly, 7:30
Brooke Point at Fauquier, 7:30
North Stafford at Culpeper, 7:30
Stafford at Sherando, 7:30
Strasburg at Manassas Park, 7:30
James Monroe at Brentsville, 7:30
Culpeper at Stafford, 7:30
Sherando at Brooke Point, 7:30
Manassas Park at Colonial Beach, 7:30
North Stafford at Osbourn Park, 1:30
Quantico at Christchurch, 3
Brentsville at Clarke County, 6
Stonewall Jackson at Osbourn, 7:30
Woodbridge at Hylton, 7:30
Gar-Field at Potomac, 7:30
Ryan S. Smith