After the Stone Bridge football team defeated Potomac Falls last week, the Bulldogs celebrated clinching their first postseason berth by dumping a water bucket over Coach Mickey Thompson, posing for pictures in front of the scoreboard and yelling loudly to one another.
Fauquier defeated Sherando last week to clinch the Northwestern District title and its first playoff appearance in five years. Hugs and handshakes were plentiful on the sideline as the Falcons finished off a 28-point blowout.
Park View's players reveled immediately after a victory over Loudoun County last Friday clinched yet another district championship. But the matter-of-fact Patriots quickly turned their attention to a familiar destination: the postseason, in which they will be playing for the fifth consecutive November.
Three playoff berths finalized. Three different reactions. Three different histories.
For only the second time in area history and first time since 1991, three area football teams have qualified for the postseason. Even more impressive is that Park View, Stone Bridge and Fauquier took three of the four spots in the AA Region II Division 4 bracket.
The lack of history was the reason why Stone Bridge's reaction was so animated. In only its third season, Stone Bridge has improved each successive year and now has taken the next step in establishing its program not only to itself, but to the rest of the Washington area.
"It's great because your team will always be remembered as the first playoff team in school history," Stone Bridge junior co-captain Landon Gouveia said. Bulldogs Coach Mickey Thompson said after the Potomac Falls game "that we're starting a tradition of winning here, and you want to be a part of that. That gets you excited."
Fauquier made seven playoff appearances from 1987 to '97, including three consecutive Virginia AAA Division 5 semifinals (1987-89). After Liberty's opening across the county in 1994, however, the balance of power between the two shifted in the Eagles' favor.
Fauquier made the playoffs three of the next four years but had not since 1997. Meantime, Liberty has played in three of the four postseasons after 1997.
"People always talked down about us," Fauquier senior co-captain Doron White said. "It's difficult being the underdog in the county, and Fauquier had been that for a few years."
This season's Fauquier senior class went undefeated as a freshman team, and the junior class lost only once as freshmen. That gave the Falcons optimism coming into practice for the first time in several years.
Fauquier Coach Tom Ferrell "picked the captains in the summer because he knew we could what we needed to do to get this team back in the playoffs," Fauquier senior co-captain Josh Campbell said. "There is a lot better attitude. It's nice going to practice and games knowing you could win every game. . . . We knew we had something to build on at the start of the season. It's nice to get the program back in the playoffs and get it in the right direction."
The only way there would be a spirited reaction after the regular season at Park View likely would be if the Patriots miss the postseason. The playoffs are an expectation at Park View. Five straight playoff berths have fostered a responsibility among the Patriots to continue the streak.
"I talk to people all the time," Park View junior linebacker T.J. Disney said, "and they ask me when the playoffs are starting, 'How do you feel?' I've been in big games before. I've been in regional championship games, state championship games.
"I want to keep this tradition alive because when I leave, I want to be able to pass it down to the freshmen so they know that you have to make the playoffs at Park View. If I don't pass it down to them and they don't make [the playoffs], then I feel responsible."