* GETTING THEIR KICKS: With a 41-7 win over Stafford, North Stafford (9-1) established a new school record for victories in a season headed into its Northwestern Region Division 6 semifinal at George Washington-Danville. And the Wolverines did so in part because of a peculiar strategy the team has used this season.
Because their kickoff coverage is spotty at times, the Wolverines usually attempt onside kicks. They figure if the other team is going to wind up with prime field position anyway, they might as well give themselves a chance to retain possession.
On Friday night, senior Mike Deritida recovered consecutive onside kicks to help key a 31-point first half. Deritida had pounced on a kick the previous week, as well.
"I guess he just has an eye for the ball," Coach Chris Beatty said. "He's a little guy [5 feet 8, 171 pounds] who gets in a big pile and comes away with the ball."
The nine victories--the old record of eight was set in 1992--was not the only mark broken Friday night. Senior quarterback Chris Ashinhurst completed 24 passes to break the state record for completions in a season with 222. Brandon Corso of W.T. Woodson completed 211 passes in 1990. Junior receiver Nate Ilaoa tied the AAA season receiving record of 1,190 yards.
Last week, Ashinhurst set the Virginia AAA record for passing yards in a season. He now is 107 shy of the overall state mark of 3,014, set by Brian Partlow of Handley in 1994.
Stafford hasn't had it so good. It concluded its season with five consecutive losses.
* A WIN IS A WIN: Some Hylton supporters might have been surprised, or maybe even disappointed, by the Bulldogs' relatively tight 14-8 win over Potomac. Hylton Coach Bill Brown, whose team outscored the Panthers by 120-27 in three games last year, was not one of them.
After all, with the victory, the Bulldogs wrapped up a second consecutive unbeaten regular season, ran their winning streak to 26 games and won another Cardinal District title.
"I don't think anybody in our program can take this lightly," Brown said. "When you've had success, maybe you think it's not that big of a deal. But it is that big of a deal.
"We might not have had the kind of game we wanted to have in the 10th game of the season, but if it had been the 14th game of the season, we'd be very, very happy. Even in the 10th game, there's nothing to be but very, very happy."
Penalties, particularly holding calls that nullified substantial gains, slowed the Hylton offense, but Brown said he had trouble spotting the infractions on the game film.
"On my way home [Friday] night, I wasn't sure how we'd played, but looking on the film, I'm not displeased," said Brown, whose team will host Gar-Field in a Northwestern Region Division 6 semifinal Friday night.
Hylton senior running back Quintin Beltran left the game with an ankle injury, returned to action, then sprained the ankle again. However, it is not likely a serious sprain.
* NO PLAYOFFS (PART I): Consider Brooke Point the hard-luck team of the last two seasons.
Last year, as a Division 5 school, the Black-Hawks went 7-3. Their Virginia High School League power rating was not high enough to qualify for the Division 5 playoffs. Had it been a Division 6 team last year, Brooke Point would have qualified.
This year, as a Division 6 school, the Black-Hawks went 7-3, with all three losses by a touchdown, two to postseason qualifiers North Stafford and Culpeper. But their VHSL rating is not high enough to qualify in Division 6. But had they not been bumped to the higher classification this season, they would have cracked the playoff field in Division 5.
"We knew we were in Division 6; it's not like they threw a surprise at us," Coach Tom Berry said. "It is disappointing, though."
Even if the Black-Hawks had finished 8-2, they likely would not have reached the Division 6 playoffs this season without winning the Commonwealth District title. North Stafford went 9-1 and Gar-Field went 8-2 and would have sported a higher VHSL rating.
Triggered by a blocked field goal by junior Robert Gunning, Brooke Point scored 34 points in the final eight minutes or so of the second quarter Friday in a 55-7 win over Osbourn.
"I've never seen a game change that fast in my life," Berry said.
The Black-Hawks next season will return seven defensive starters off the team that allowed an area-low 73 points this year. All other Prince William and Stafford teams allowed 102 points or more. Brooke Point also will bring back junior Larry Smith, the top regular season rusher in the area this fall.
* NO PLAYOFFS (PART II): Manassas Park, which lost, 26-6, to Brentsville in its final game, clung to slim Virginia A Region B Division 1 playoff hopes yesterday afternoon. If Strasburg lost to George Mason, the Cougars could squeak into the postseason.
Manassas Park Coach Jeff Lloyd and a handful of parents kept a vigil of sorts at yesterday's game, and were encouraged after George Mason scored first. But Strasburg gradually took a comfortable lead. When the cushion hit 30 in the fourth quarter, a disappointed Lloyd headed for the exit.
"We had fate in our own hands and didn't take care of what we needed to do," said Lloyd, whose team's losses were to AA school King George, Bull Run District champion Madison County and Brentsville. "I think I'll look back a couple weeks from now and say that's a heck of a turnaround. But right now, it's still painful."
The Cougars (7-3) had won just seven games the previous three seasons and have endured three 0-10 records in the 1990s. Another year they went 1-9.
Quantico (5-5) concluded its season last week and needed help to reach the Division 2 playoffs for state independent schools. The Warriors did not get that help and finished fifth, one spot out of the postseason field.
* BIG RELIEF: After leading Brentsville to a 26-6 win over Manassas Park, Tigers senior backup quarterback Justin Waddle worked his way through the handshake line at midfield and trotted to the end zone, where he promptly collapsed in a pile of swirling emotions.
"I was exhausted," said Waddle, who was making his first start, filling in for injured junior Chris Jenkins. "The adrenaline rush and the whole rivalry atmosphere, the competition they put up--I was just exhausted. It was a relief to get that game over with."
Waddle, a three-year substitute quarterback who starts at linebacker, completed two of five pass attempts, both noteworthy hookups with senior Justin Thomas. The first pass, on the Tigers' second offensive play, went for 53 yards.
"That made me relax a whole lot more," said Waddle, who later connected with Thomas on a corner route for an 11-yard touchdown. "I dropped back and didn't see anybody but J.T. running down the sideline. That sort of boosted my confidence for the rest of the night."
Jenkins, who suffered a head injury in the Oct. 29 game against Madison County, was held out of the Manassas Park game for precautionary reasons but might return for this week's Region B Division 2 semifinal home game.
Brentsville posted its first winning season since 1995 and is in the playoffs for the third time in four years.
* SPECIAL TEAMER: Stonewall Jackson sophomore Thomas Witsman could not understand why so many people wanted to talk to him about his punting after his team's 13-7 win over Osbourn Park.
Sure, Witsman's punts forced the Yellow Jackets to take over on two possessions around the 10-yard line, another at the 1 and yet another inside the 20. But the cornerback also helped cause a fumble that sophomore Glen Cary recovered for a touchdown, and he broke up two passes on Osbourn Park's final possession.
"I did some things on defense I thought were bigger than the punts," said Witsman, whose kick that was downed at the 1-yard line helped set up a short Stonewall touchdown drive.
Or maybe the first-year punter is just not accustomed to being so successful in his relatively new endeavor. At times, learning to punt has been a difficult task.
"In practice I do great because I know the practice squad isn't going to hit me or block my punt," Witsman said. "But in games I rush, and the ball goes off the side of my foot."
Witsman thought winning the season finale was important, but not for the obvious reason of bolstering a young team's confidence for next season.
"It was big, but I don't think that's why it was big," he said. "The reason it was big was because it was OP. We didn't want to walk around Manassas and hear it from them. We wanted them to hear it from us."
With wins over the Yellow Jackets and Osbourn, Stonewall finished as the top AAA team in Manassas. The Raiders have won 12 of the last 13 games against Osbourn Park.
* MAKING THE GRADE: Osbourn Park dropped its last two games to finish 3-7, but there is a more important statistic that Coach Mike Feldman is proud of: For the first quarter of the school year, the Yellow Jackets boasted a team grade-point average of 3.04.
Unlike the other Cardinal District schools, Osbourn Park students must earn a 2.0 average to participate in activities. The first quarter was a probationary period for the new policy.
"We have smart kids here," said Feldman, adding that there is a support system, such as a learning lab and study hall, to assist students. "We're the only ones operating under these guidelines. We're held to a higher, more accountable standard than everyone else. You'd like to see everyone on the same playing field."
School Board members have said that if the new policy is a success at Osbourn Park, it might be implemented at other Prince William high schools. Students at the other schools must pass four classes and earn at least a C in one of them.
* PROGRESS REPORT: Colonial Forge, the new Stafford County high school that lost three varsity games to start its inaugural season, rebounded to win all seven of its junior varsity games, each by at least 13 points.
The Eagles, with no senior class this year, will field freshman, junior varsity and varsity teams next season. This season, the Eagles fielded one team.
"I knew we had some great kids and the opportunity was there, it was just a matter of when we'd start to hit on all cylinders," said Coach Karl Buckwalter, whose team opened with losses to Maryland school Forestville (58-3), Broad Run (26-20) and Brentsville (36-6). "It started to click, and the light bulb went on."
Buckwalter is particularly impressed with his backfield--freshman quarterback Brandon McKinney, sophomore fullback Chuck Brown, freshman fullback Chris Corbin and freshman halfback James Davis. Davis is the brother of former Brooke Point star Daniel Davis, the 1998 All-Met Offensive Player of the Year.
Buckwalter thought playing the three varsity opponents helped toughen the Eagles for junior varsity competition, but he wishes he could have faced those same teams after the JV games instead of before.
Colonial Forge, as a full-fledged Commonwealth District varsity team, will play Brentsville and Broad Run next season. The Eagles also will play new Loudoun County school Stone Bridge.
This season, Colonial Forge had 92 players in the football program. With all three of the program's teams in place next year, Buckwalter is aiming for between 140 and 150 players.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Brentsville senior Justin Thomas carried 21 times for 111 yards, caught his team's two completions for 64 yards and intercepted two passes in a 26-6 win over Manassas Park that secured a Region B Division 2 home game for the Tigers.
"I pretty much didn't think about the playoffs. I thought about Manassas Park."
-- Brentsville senior quarterback
Justin Waddle, who started
Friday night for the playoff-bound Tigers in place of the injured
Chris Jenkins. Brentsville beat
the rival Cougars, 26-6.
TWO FOR THE BOOKS
North Stafford quarterback Chris Ashinhurst on Friday night broke the Virginia state record for completions in one season, and the senior is closing in on the mark for most yards passing in a season. Also Friday, Ashinhurst's favorite receiver, junior Nate Ilaoa, tied the Virginia AAA record for receiving yards in a season. Ilaoa's 72 receptions this year is the seventh-highest total on the state's all-time list. (Source: Virginia High School League)
Yards passing in one season
Name: Brian Partlow
Name: x Chris Ashinhurst
Team: North Stafford
x--Virginia AAA record
Completions in one season
Name: Chris Ashinhurst
Team: North Stafford
Name: Brandon Corso
Team: W.T. Woodson
Receiving yardage in one season
Name: Michael Partlow
Name: Tremayne Hill
Team: Surry County
Name: Alvin Hamlin
Name: x Nate Ilaoa
Team: North Stafford
Name: x Charlie Carr
Team: Princess Anne
x--Virginia AAA record
BY THE NUMBERS
- 4: Offensive yards for Manassas Park in the second half of its 26-6 loss at Brentsville.
5: Games Potomac won on the road this season--and the number it lost at home.
8: Potomac games decided by a touchdown or less this season. Three of them were losses to region playoff qualifiers Hylton, Gar-Field and North Stafford.
8.3: Average wins of the teams Woodbridge lost to this season--Culpeper (10-0), Robinson (8-2), Eleanor Roosevelt (9-1), Potomac (5-5), Hylton (10-0) and Gar-Field (8-2).
74: Points scored this season by Osbourn, which is 35 points fewer than Stonewall, the next lowest scoring team in the Cardinal or Commonwealth districts.
Northwestern Region Division 6
Gar-Field (8-2) at Hylton (10-0), 7:30
North Stafford (9-1) at George Washington-Danville (8-2), 7:30
Region B Division 2
Buckingham (5-5) at Brentsville (7-3), TBA
Stonewall Jackson 13, Osbourn Park 7
Brooke Point 55, Osbourn 7
Hylton 14, Potomac 8
Gar-Field 42, Woodbridge 20
North Stafford 41, Stafford 7
Brentsville 26, Manassas Park 6
Brentsville running back Justin Thomas (6) was misidentified in a photo caption on the front page of yesterday's Extra.