No. 9 Stone Bridge (9-0, 6-0) at Broad Run (6-3, 4-2)
When: Tomorrow, 7:30 p.m.
Stone Bridge senior quarterback Sean Ryan against an aggressive Broad Run secondary, led by senior safety Joe Costello.
No matter how this game goes, Ryan is guaranteed to finish this season as the top-rated passer in the AA Dulles District. He ranks seventh in the Washington area with 1,654 yards passing, 489 more than his closest pursuer; is completing 64 percent of his attempts; and owns a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 15-to-4.
Ryan needs 160 yards (rushing or passing) to set a Stone Bridge record for total yards from scrimmage in a season. The current record of 2,359 yards was set by Mike O'Brien in 2002.
Broad Run's secondary appears capable of handling the challenge. The Spartans have picked off a combined 14 passes this season, including eight by Costello. Senior defensive back Craig Tait increased his season total to four last week with three interceptions against Potomac Falls, one of which he returned 28 yards for a touchdown.
"He's a darn good quarterback," Broad Run Coach Ken Belchik said of Ryan. "I think their team is every bit as good as it was a year ago. They're just doing it more through the air now than on the ground because of that kid."
But it's precisely because of the success of the passing game that Stone Bridge Coach Mickey Thompson said he is more concerned with the Bulldogs' ability to run against Broad Run's big defensive line.
Left guard Allan McCullough is the only senior on the Bulldogs' line, which also includes juniors Tyler Pearson and Ted Zurawski and sophomores John Manning and Andrew Nuss.
"They have a very good defensive line, and so I worry about how our relatively young offensive line is going to do against them," Thompson said. "We've had good pass protection all year, but our run blocking hasn't been as solid, and we really need to be able to run the ball a little bit against this team."
Outlook: Stone Bridge's victory over Dominion last week -- coupled with Park View's loss to Loudoun Valley -- locked up a second straight AA Dulles District title for the Bulldogs.
They must defeat Broad Run to put the finishing touches on a second consecutive undefeated regular season and secure the top seed in the Region II Division 4 playoffs. Like last season, the No. 1 seed would give the Bulldogs home field throughout the region playoffs.
"This is a big game not only for us but for the whole community," Thompson said. "Being undefeated is something very few teams accomplish, but the fact that we have a chance to do it two years in a row is special."
To achieve that feat, Stone Bridge's defense, which is conceding a league-low 12.1 points per game, must find an answer for Broad Run junior Thayer Nelson. Nelson is the Dulles District's second-leading rusher with 1,186 yards and 12 touchdowns on 140 carries.
The Spartans' passing attack also has improved steadily, with senior Kyle Hopeck having thrown for 120 or more yards in three of his last four games. Before that, Hopeck's previous season-high had been 37 yards.
"We had placed an emphasis on improving our passing game as the season progressed because we hoped to get to the playoffs, and to be successful there you have to be able to throw the ball," Belchik said.
"And even though it hasn't worked out for us to get to the playoffs, our passing game has developed just as we had planned."
Said Thompson: "They're an extremely impressive team. They've played a couple of teams who I know for a fact have walked away saying how physical they were. I'm expecting a heck of a game."