Battlefield Coach Mark Cox and his staff didn't celebrate wildly after a 26-0 win over Brentsville on Friday night, the program's first varsity win. Worn out from an intense week of preparation, they simply took care of a few postgame duties and went home.
In reality, though, Friday's win resulted from much more than a week's worth of hard work. The same was true for Freedom, which topped Mountain View, 25-3, in its first varsity game. Both teams played mostly junior varsity opponents last season to get ready for their varsity debuts -- and both emerged with confidence-building victories.
"This game was definitely a boost for us," Battlefield senior Chris Ahern said. "A lot of people at our school thought we were going to lose this game, but we got things done."
The Bobcats entered Friday's game with high expectations because they won their final seven games last season, albeit against junior varsity teams. Their triumph Friday was especially gratifying because Brentsville -- a budding rival -- beat them early last season, 33-6, in one of Battlefield's two varsity contests. Battlefield's defense was vastly improved in the rematch, holding the Tigers to 44 yards of total offense after allowing 371 in last season's loss.
"Defensively, we couldn't have played a better game," Cox said. "I think they only crossed the 50-yard line one time. The defense is keeping us in the game, giving us good field position."
Ahern, a transfer from Westfield, starred at cornerback with three interceptions and two fumble recoveries. He also split time at quarterback with Gregg Martino and Corey Thacker. Cox said he will continue rotating quarterbacks.
"I think they all played well," Cox said. "That's the reason why all three of them were playing. I like the camaraderie that those three are starting to build with one another."
Mountain View, a first-year AAA school in Stafford County, may prove to be Freedom's weakest opponent this season, but that hasn't diminished the Eagles' excitement over their successful varsity debut. Freedom Coach John Brown said the win resulted partly from the team's experience in a scrimmage last month against defending Central Region Division 6 champion L.C. Bird.
"They pretty much waxed us," Brown said. "It was a fight we were in that we had to go through as a team and coaching staff together. In the second part of that scrimmage, we stood up and went from a JV team to a varsity team. Our defense was able to see how to run to the ball and cover varsity speed. We have some fast kids, but we hadn't done that at the varsity level."
Like Cox, Brown was ecstatic about his team's play on defense. He sees room for improvement on offense, particularly along the line. Most of the Eagles' offense came from big plays, including a 68-yard touchdown run by junior halfback Justin Hickey.
"We never took the ball and crammed it down their throat," Brown said. "In order to be a successful offense, that's what you have to be able to do."
Although both coaches were happy to see their teams' extensive preparation result in victorious openers, they also refused to be satisfied by only one victory.
"The trick is," Brown said, "you've got to keep it going."