There isn't much at Fauquier that will look familiar this football season. Not the coach on the sideline. Not many of the opponents on the field. And certainly not the plays this year's group will be running.
New coach Greg Hatfield, who comes to Fauquier after leading Class A Central-Woodstock to the playoffs a year ago, has brought with him the same wide-open, spread offense that brought those Falcons much success a year ago. It's a formula that will be tested in Class AAA, where Fauquier moves to the Cedar Run District with the likes of Battlefield, Culpeper, Osbourn, Osbourn Park and Stonewall Jackson.
"It's really exciting," senior quarterback Zac Caito said. "All of it. It's fun to learn a new fast-paced offense with a lot of movement and a lot more opportunity to throw the ball. And everyone is fired up for the move up to AAA. There's just so much that is new for us."
Last season, Caito (6-0, 205) completed 28 of 91 passes for 582 yards with 6 touchdowns and 7 interceptions, but Hatfield said he is not concerned by the low completion percentage.
"Last year their focus was running the ball," Hatfield said, "so I know this offense is like going from one extreme to the other. But I've watched Zac, and I know he can handle it. We had a lot of success with this offense at Central, and we didn't have a quarterback there as talented as he is. So hopefully this will play to his strengths."
Caito's arm strength is among his best assets.
He demonstrated that for years as a standout catcher on the baseball team, where his teammates receiving the ball had the comfort of a padded glove.
"A lot of our wide receivers came in without any kind of gloves," Caito said, laughing. "But by the end of the first week they all had them. I throw the ball pretty hard."
Caito said he feels comfortable with the playbook and his timing on passing routes, thanks in large part to spending three days a week in the offseason studying and running the various pass routes in 7-on-7 drills.
"The biggest thing now is getting down my footwork," Caito said. "Getting my feet set so I'm not just relying on my arm strength."
Caito isn't the only one making adjustments. The Falcons also will move to a more aggressive, 4-4 defensive scheme in an effort to capitalize on the team's quickness.
"We spent most of the first two weeks of practice working only in individual position groups," Hatfield said. "I don't think we had 40 minutes of team time total. But we had to do that to teach them what we're looking for before we could put it all together.
"Now we get to the fun stuff."
Fauquier at Liberty
Sept. 2, 7:30 p.m.
Liberty and Fauquier, the only high schools in Fauquier County, are likely to remain intense rivals despite the Falcons' move out of the AA Northwestern District into the AAA Cedar Run. This game, with former Falcons coach Tom Ferrell on the opposing sideline now as an assistant, figures to have added meaning.
This Season's Schedule
DateOpponentTimeSept. 2Liberty7:30Sept. 9Potomac (Va.)7:30Sept. 16at Stafford7:30Sept. 23Woodbridge7:30Oct. 7Freedom (PW)7:30Oct. 14at Culpeper7:30Oct. 21Osbourn Park7:30Oct. 28at Stonewall7:30Nov. 4Battlefield7:30Nov. 11at Osbourn7:30Last Year's Results
DateOpponentResultSept. 3at LibertyL, 16-13Sept. 20at CulpeperL, 6-3Sept. 25Loudoun CountyW, 28-13Oct. 1HandleyL, 28-14Oct. 8at Warren CountyL, 24-23Oct. 22at James WoodW, 28-0Oct. 29BrentsvilleW, 30-7Nov. 5at SherandoL, 20-18Nov. 13LibertyL, 21-3