Broad Run's 16 seniors circled enthusiastically around Coach Ken Belchik after the final session of two-a-day practices, thrilled it was finally their turn to participate in the Spartans' long-standing senior tradition of doing up-downs after the final day of camp.
"We do it after the last day of practice at the end of the year, too," Belchik said. "We always have."
This time Belchik grinned mischievously as he led the group to the muddiest part of the practice field.
"Circle around!" he called. "Circle around!"
When he blew the whistle, the seniors dropped face down in the mud as a steady rain pelted the backs of their helmets. They then hopped back to their feet, screaming and laughing as their younger teammates clapped and cheered behind them.
In the middle of it all, and by far the filthiest player when they finally stopped, was senior quarterback Alex Feemster (5 feet 11, 170 pounds).
"He's really provided leadership," Belchik said. "In any type of drill we do he's always first. He's not very vocal, but when he does say something it's the right thing. And when he says something, he means it, and the other players listen."
That bodes well for the Spartans, who return three starters overall -- by far the fewest of any team in the AA Dulles District. The next closest team is Loudoun County, with seven starters returning, while the other four teams in the district have back nine or more starters.
"It's been hard for us to get a handle on the team because we have so many new faces," Belchik said. "So many guys who are unproven."
He's not counting Feemster in that group. Though he has not played quarterback since his freshman season, a year Feemster dismisses because the season was shortened to five games because of the sniper attacks, he does not look unaccustomed to playing the position.
His vast abilities are there. Feemster is a converted running back who has tremendous speed and agility and a powerful throwing arm he used often as an outfielder on the Spartans' baseball team.
"We moved him because we wanted to run a little more option," Belchik said. "We're going to put the ball up more this year than we have in the past."
That should help keep the running lanes open for senior tailback Thayer Nelson, who rushed for 1,246 yards and 12 touchdowns last season.
"I would have done anything Coach [Belchik] asked me that he thought was going to help the team," Feemster said. "And this seems perfect. Plus, it puts me in a leadership position, and I'm excited about that. I think this is our year."
Broad Run at Park View
Sept. 30, 7:30 p.m.
This nondistrict meeting between the teams -- their last before district play begins -- will establish which school is the front-runner to succeed two-time defending AA Dulles District champion Stone Bridge, which has moved to the AAA Liberty District. They meet again Nov. 11 in the regular season finale.
This Season's Schedule
DateOpponentTimeSept. 2Paul VI Catholic7:30Sept. 9at Manassas Park7:30Sept. 16at Jefferson (W. Va.)7Sept. 23at M.burg (W. Va.)7Sept. 30at Park View7:30Oct. 15Potomac Falls*1:30Oct. 21at Heritage7:30Oct. 28at Loudoun County7:30Nov. 4Dominion7:30Nov. 11Park View7:30 *homecoming
Last Year's Results
DateOpponentResultSept. 10George MasonW, 27-0Sept. 21SherandoL, 21-13Sept. 25at RiverbendW, 28-14Oct. 1HeritageW, 28-14Oct. 8at Loudoun ValleyW, 28-27Oct. 15at Park ViewL, 27-24Oct. 23Loudoun CountyL, 29-21Oct. 29at DominionW, 42-8Nov. 5at Potomac FallsW, 35-0Nov. 13Stone BridgeL, 23-7