For Woodbridge, it was the kind of statistic that jumped out of the box score: three touchdown passes? After throwing for just one in the first seven games of the season?
Vikings junior Alex Brown indeed threw for three scores -- to three different receivers, no less -- in his team's 35-7 win over Forest Park last week.
"We've kind of come to the conclusion that we're going to have to throw the ball," said Woodbridge Coach Keith King, whose team has alternated between junior Jay Kirland and Brown at quarterback. "We feel comfortable with both of them throwing."
Kirland missed the Forest Park game after suffering a concussion against Stonewall Jackson, so it was up to Brown, a tailback his first two years in the program. Brown hit junior Nick Miller andseniors Tommy Carter and Derrick Holt on short passes that they fashioned into 40-, 44-and 50-yard touchdowns.
"We tried to take the pressure off [Brown] and just run the football, but now everybody's putting so many people in the box you just have to go ahead and let him learn as he goes," King said. "We don't throw a lot of deep balls. I've watched some tapes where the quarterback is dropping back and throwing 40-yard passes every play. We try to hit good timing routes and put the ball where it can be caught and let our athletes do something with it."
In addition to throwing for three touchdowns, Brown ran for a 20-yard score. Senior running back Andre Bratton topped 100 yards as he has done every game this season. One more win should clinch the Vikings' first playoff berth since 1997.
Johnson Helps Both Ways
Hylton Coach Lou Sorrentino wondered last week about how to divide sophomore Tabian Johnson's time between linebacker and running back, with star rusher Courtney Anderson out with a shoulder injury.
As it turned out, Johnson played a lot on both sides of the ball, setting up his own touchdown run with an interception in a 14-6 win over Gar-Field, the school he attended last year. Before that productive third quarter sequence -- Johnson gained most of the yards on the scoring drive following his pickoff -- the Bulldogs were scoreless.
"He gave us a real warrior's effort," Sorrentino said. "He's a little banged-up, but that's the bad thing about playing both sides of the ball and running as hard as he does."
Johnson and senior A.J. Murray both suffered injuries against Gar-Field; as of early in the week, their status was uncertain for the home game Friday against Woodbridge. Anderson, a junior, is doubtful with his shoulder injury.
Since outscoring their Cardinal District opponents 118-10 the first time through the league schedule, Hylton has lost a nondistrict game to Potomac and beaten Gar-Field by a slender margin.
"It's a long season," Sorrentino said. "You can turn on TV and watch some pros or college teams and they don't look like the same team next time you see them. We were not on all cylinders -- not as sharp or crisp. Sometimes it's mental and sometimes it's a physical thing.
"We're working on it, and if it was so easy to identify, you'd put a finger on it and correct it right away. Joe Gibbs is going through the issue of trying to figure out how to make [the Redskins] better and clicking. We're not panicking. We're proud of our kids as far as playing hard, but we know we have to play better for good things to happen the rest of the year."
Playing Hylton Tight
During its 15-game losing streak in the Hylton series, Gar-Field has counted few of the games as moral victories. The 14-6 loss to the Bulldogs last week was an exception, considering the Indians' setback to Hylton earlier in the month.
"When you lose 42-10 like we did a couple weeks ago, it was kind of demoralizing," said first-year Gar-Field coach Joe Mangano, whose team in the second meeting tackled better, mounted a stronger running game and was not as passive defensively. "If you ever played football, when someone beats you the way they did running for 350 yards, it stings a lot. For us to come back and fight like we did Friday night, I was very proud of the effort.
"We're all kind of new here, and I think now they're starting to see some of the stuff we're doing and it's starting to make sense. And some inexperienced kids are starting to grow up and make a lot of plays. But a moral victory is just that -- a moral victory."
The Indians out-rushed the Bulldogs, 143-75, and out-passed them, 55-49, but managed only two field goals by junior John Painter, giving him a Washington-area high of eight for the season. Junior Mike King ran for 125 yards.
The Indians played without senior receiver Brandon Bell (33 of the team's 71 catches), who was out with a broken finger. In his absence, junior Justin Wallace had four grabs, twice his season total.
It was not known early in the week if Bell would be cleared to play tomorrow against Forest Park, a team that has never beaten the Indians.
Former Gar-Field Coach Jim Poythress, whose team often had to play Hylton three times a year, is finding the going even rougher in his first year at Lake Braddock. The Bruins are 0-8. The teams they have lost to have a record of 49-15. . . .
Brentsville junior running back Jay Terrell (team-leading seven touchdowns) did not play in his team's 30-7 loss to Fauquier last week and might not return to the team this season, said Tigers Coach Dean Reedy, who declined to elaborate. Brentsville (2-6) has lost six straight. . . .
Brentsville has completed 63 passes this season, but none for touchdowns. "What touchdowns we've scored a lot of times are set up from passes that we weren't able to get all the way in," Reedy said. "When you get down that close, you go back to the old school and get in the best way you can."