Hylton 24, North Stafford 6
Madison County 27, Brentsville 12
Saturday, Nov. 27
Princess Anne (10-2) at Hylton (12-0), 1:30
Centreville (10-2) at Varina (12-0), 1:30
Saturday, Dec. 4
Semifinal winners at University of Richmond, 4
BY THE NUMBERS
Interceptions by the Hylton defense in two Northwestern Region Division 6 playoff games.
Interceptions by Princess Anne defensive back Derrick Gatlin in the Eastern Region championship win over Bayside. Hylton plays Princess Anne next week.
Number of contact lenses Hylton linebacker Melvin Butler was wearing when he intercepted a deflected pass on a botched North Stafford field goal attempt in the region final. Moments before, an official had given Butler's stray lens to Bulldogs personnel for safe keeping.
Fourth-quarter point differential, in Madison County's favor, in two victories over Brentsville this season, the latest a 27-12 win in the Region B Division 2 final.
* COACH ON LINE: The casual observer might assume that Hylton's offensive line played a stellar game in the 24-6 win over North Stafford in the Northwestern Region Division 6 championship. After all, the Bulldogs rushed for a respectable 234 yards on 43 carries.
Well, let's just say that Coach Bill Brown did not see it that way.
"That was probably the worst performance from our offensive line I have witnessed since the school opened," Brown said. "We had our heads down, we missed blocks because we didn't see blocks and we blocked the wrong people. It's unacceptable.
"We usually don't wear shoulder pads on Monday, but we might this Monday."
Further scrutiny shows the rushing totals are deceptive. Four carries--two by Jason Kaminski and one each by junior D.J. Walton and senior Chris Fields--accounted for 137 of those 234 yards. The Bulldogs gained two yards or less on 24 of their carries.
Besides blocking, another point of emphasis this week will be long snapping. The Bulldogs have made changes at long snapper, but there were bounced snaps on punts against North Stafford.
* GAME SAVER?: Hylton sophomore linebacker Ahmad Brooks is known for racking up tackles on defense. But perhaps his most important stop Friday night came on an offensive play. Early in the second quarter, with the game still scoreless, the fullback raced from the backfield to catch North Stafford junior Nate Ilaoa, who had picked off a pass and returned it 60 yards.
"That was huge," Brown said. "Ahmad's as fast as anybody we have, but people don't realize it because he's so big."
The 6-3, 210-pound Brooks runs the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds.
"I think everybody thought that Nate was going to score," North Stafford Coach Chris Beatty said. "That might have been a game-saving type of tackle."
* MISSED CHANCES: North Stafford could take little solace in the fact that it picked up 15 first downs against Hylton, because the Wolverines scored just once.
"In a game like that, the team that scores first usually wins," Beatty said. "We had all the opportunity in the world to score first."
The Wolverines reached the Bulldog 8-yard line but fumbled on second down. They took possession at the Bulldog 18 but ended the series with a botched field goal attempt. They reached the Bulldog 36 but had to punt after losing nine yards on a sack. They were at the Bulldog 33 on first down but had to settle for a long field goal attempt, which was short. All of that came in the first half. They reached the Bulldog 28 early in the fourth quarter but lost seven yards on a sack and turned the ball over on downs.
"They were getting frustrated and yelling at each other because they weren't getting the passes they usually get," said Walton, who came up with an interception, as did seniors Melvin Butler and Delondre Simpson.
* EMOTIONAL ENDING: After the game, in an emotional on-field meeting, Beatty apologized to his players because he felt as if he did not adjust his play-calling early enough to offset Hylton's heavy pass rush.
"I'll get to coach another game," said Beatty, in his second year at the school. "Some of these guys won't get to play another game. They know they won't ever have the chance to put on the pads again."
Among Prince William and Stafford County teams, North Stafford's 17-6 record the past two seasons is second only to Hylton's unbeaten mark.
"If you would have [predicted] that to anybody when I got the job, they'd have been, 'Yeah, right,' " Beatty said. "Nobody expected us to do so well. We're disappointed where we are, but in a couple weeks, I'll look at it and think we've done a lot."
The Wolverines next year will return three offensive starters, including record-setting receiver Ilaoa (81 receptions, AAA-record 1,303 yards), and six defensive starters, among them first-team all-Commonwealth District linebacker Dante McKoy.
Senior defensive back Jerome Rogers ended his high school career by separating his shoulder in the third quarter.
* EMOTIONAL BEGINNING: Hylton took offense at the North Stafford players pouring through the back of the end zone to enter the field while the Bulldog defense was being introduced before the game.
"It's a little unusual," Brown said. "I don't know if I've ever seen that."
Beatty said the intrusive timing was unintentional. It is common for visiting teams to not want to stand idly on the sideline while the home team is introduced. But Beatty said he also did not want his team standing and waiting among pockets of fans during introductions. He said the Wolverines have been in that situation before and have been taunted by fans at other schools.
"It wasn't any disrespect; it just worked out that way," Beatty said.
Senior defensive end John Brower is one Bulldog who took it as a personal slight.
"That raised our intensity even more," he said. "You don't come into the 'Dog Pound' and do that."
"I don't think they did it on purpose," Walton said, "but [motivation] was the outcome."
* QUIET, PLEASE: At one point in the game, Brown had to motion for the Hylton band to pipe down. The Bulldogs had just started a possession, and he was afraid the band would drown out the signals of senior quarterback Kenny Irby. As it turned out, it was North Stafford that jumped offside on the play.
"It was just a matter of timing," Brown said. "Our band has given us tremendous support. They've gone to Pulaski, Danville. They're always there for us."
* UP NEXT: Princess Anne, the team Hylton will host at 1:30 p.m. Saturday in the Division 6 state semifinals, knocked off previously unbeaten Deep Creek and Bayside to win the Eastern Region title.
In the region championship Friday, the Cavaliers (10-2) blanked Bayside, 19-0, a team they had lost to, 36-0, during the regular season. Quarterback C.J. Fayton threw two touchdown passes to Whitney Powell and ran for a third score.
In the Central Region, Lamont Abrams carried 27 times for 272 yards and five touchdowns to lead Varina to a 41-21 win over Patrick Henry-Ashland. Varina weathered 111 penalty yards.
The Blue Devils (12-0), the Central champion the past three seasons, are the team Hylton beat in the state championship last year. Varina will host Northern Region champion Centreville next week.
* TIGERS' TALE: In August, Brentsville Coach Mike Madison thought a 5-5 season sounded like a realistic finish for his Tigers, who had gone 11-21 the three previous years. Those moderate expectations make their 8-4 record that much more satisfying, despite a 27-12 loss to Madison County in the Region B Division 2 championship.
"We're small in a lot of places, we don't have exceptional speed any place, and we had very little to go on as far as kids coming back who have played a lot of football," Madison said. "But as the season progressed, I'm not surprised [at the record] because I thought we did some things better each week."
Brentsville was tied at 6 with Madison County in the region final but was outscored 21-6 in the fourth quarter. One of the Mountaineer touchdowns came on a fumble return.
"We took it to them for as long as we could," Madison said. "They have some skill people who go one way, and we use our skill people two ways. So by the fourth quarter, we were a little worn out."
With the Mountaineers double-teaming Brentsville's leading receiver, senior Justin Thomas, all four of the Tigers' completions went to senior Rodney Ross, who had eight catches going into the region final. His four catches Friday went for 111 yards and two touchdowns.
The Tigers will return four offensive starters, including junior quarterback Chris Jenkins, and three defensive starters.
* SMALL WONDER: The top rusher from Prince William County this season is a player unknown to many in the area. Sean Washington, a Dale City resident, racked up 2,130 yards and 30 touchdowns on 175 carries at Alexandria private school St. Stephen's/St. Agnes.
Washington is an easy guy to miss in a crowd. The Saints (7-4) list him at what by all accounts is a generous 5-5, 130 pounds.
"But he's as tough as they come," St. Stephen's Coach Gary Schnell said. "He's not just an east-west runner, he goes north-south. He lowers his shoulder when he needs to. He's everything you'd ever want a back to be."
Washington, who also starts at defensive back, gained 206 yards Friday in a 48-24 loss to Fork Union in the Virginia Independent Schools Football Association state championship at Fluvanna County High School.
Schnell said Washington has drawn looks mostly from Division III schools. But that interest could pick up soon. After the game Friday, an impressed Fork Union coach told Washington he was going to mention the running back's name to every college coach who visited his school.
Lake Ridge resident Nathaniel Guernsey, a 6-4, 255-pounder, was a two-way tackle for St. Stephen's this season.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Hylton senior defensive tackle Chris Ross recorded three first-half sacks against North Stafford in his team's 24-6 region championship win. Pressuring quarterback Chris Ashinhurst was the cornerstone of the Bulldogs' defensive game plan.
"We only had three down linemen most of the night," Coach Bill Brown said. "We put Chris in that position because his motor is running full speed all the time. If you're blocking him, he doesn't stay blocked."
Besides hurrying several passes, three of which led to interceptions, the Bulldogs notched six sacks, for 52 yards in losses. One sack resulted in a fumble after North Stafford had driven inside the Hylton 10-yard line.
A sack by junior Jason Kaminski on the second play of the game was an indication of things to come.
"We wanted to let the quarterback know we'd be after him all night, and if he was going to throw, he'd not have enough time or was going to get hit," Hylton senior defensive end John Brower said.
"Don't touch that sucker."
-- Unintentionally audible advice via the Hylton public address system as a North Stafford punt bounced toward a Bulldogs return man.
FRIDAY'S TOP PERFORMERS
Woodbridge, N. Stafford
Ashinhurst, N. Stafford
Edwards, N. Stafford
Woodbridge, N. Stafford
Ilaoa, N. Stafford