Stone Bridge (1-0)
at No. 16 Oakton (1-0)
When: Tomorrow, 7:30 p.m.
Oakton's powerful offensive line -- and the running of Keith Payne behind it -- against Stone Bridge's defense, which is led by senior linebackers Andrew Holoman and Nate Hawkins and junior linebacker Tim Wells.
Oakton, a 35-14 winner over Madison in its season opener last week, is a power running team. That isn't to say senior QB Kevin Houghton can't spread the field. Houghton, who last season helped the Cougars to the Northern Region Division 6 final, completed 9 of 16 passes in the opener for 123 yards and a touchdown, utilizing three receivers. But the key to this game for Stone Bridge will be preventing Payne from taking over.
"It will be interesting to see how we stack up against them on the front line on both sides of the ball," Stone Bridge Coach Mickey Thompson said. "We can't allow them to have the ball and just pound it at us. We have to be able to make some stops on defense and get the ball in our offense's hands."
Stone Bridge was successful in its Class AAA debut, besting West Springfield, 21-14, last Friday. But the Bulldogs made plenty of mistakes -- including two fumbles, an interception inside the West Springfield 20-yard line and a penalty that negated a 75-yard touchdown run -- that must be eliminated if they hope to extend their win streak.
"We were definitely ready to play," Thompson said. "There wasn't any awe on our kids part as far as playing up [a division] goes. But we made way too many mental mistakes. We were up 21-0 at the half but had opportunities to be well ahead of that. Instead, they end up making it into a ballgame at the end."
Stone Bridge did a good job running the ball in its opener, totaling 295 yards, but quarterbacks Terrence Glenn and Tony Mazur combined to complete only two passes for 22 yards. Glenn, who sat out most of the second half because of leg cramps, likely will have to do more with his arm this time.
"We didn't throw hardly at all last week, but we didn't need to," Thompson said. "We were having so much success running the ball with our base set that we never really went to our five-wide or any of our spread packages. But we know we've got to be able to throw the ball against Oakton to keep them off balance."
-- ANGELA WATTS