Woodbridge 31, Osbourn 6
Woodbridge senior cornerback Jose Gonzalez and his teammates knew as early as Thursday afternoon that their home football game Friday night against Osbourn would not be postponed by rain, no matter how heavy it got.
"If we have to build an ark, we're playing," is the way Coach Keith King put it.
So while the other Prince William County teams stayed dry Friday and bumped games to tomorrow night, Woodbridge wallowed its way to a 31-6 nondistrict win over Osbourn, smudging the Eagles' unbeaten record and posting a fourth straight victory headed into Cardinal District play next week. Osbourn had won the past two games in the series.
Despite slippery conditions that made cutting an adventure, particularly as the field deteriorated, Gonzalez reveled in the slop by returning a fumble 47 yards for a score and making a one-handed interception that he ran back 62 yards for another touchdown, all within a span of 55 seconds early in the third quarter.
Minutes later, in the same period, junior Andre Crier scored on a 55-yard interception return. On its next possession, Osbourn coughed up a fumble that junior defensive end Na'eem Outler recovered.
As if to support King's ark theory, the Osbourn turnovers were coming in pairs. The Eagles (4-1), struggling to run their spread attack in the mire after scoring 114 points the past three games, also had two turnovers in the first half, as did Woodbridge (4-1).
"Their offensive system is geared toward something like this, and ours isn't," Osbourn Coach Steve Schultze said. "We have to do a better job of preparing our offensive scheme for nights like this. . . . They're big and strong and physical and they were putting pressure on our quarterback [senior Ryan Anderson] and we were still trying to throw and it didn't happen."
Anderson completed five of 20 attempts for 64 yards, with four interceptions.
For the second consecutive game, Osbourn played without suspended junior quarterback Brandon Hogan. Schultze declined to offer specifics on Hogan's status and said he did not know when or if he would rejoin the team.
"It's a situation that happened, and I can't comment on it," Schultze said.
Gonzalez was an unlikely player to have such great impact on the game. Last year, he gave up football to concentrate on basketball, thereby missing a 7-3 regular season, a win over Hylton and the Vikings' first playoff berth since 1997.
"I really regret my decision of not playing," Gonzalez said inside the school after removing his mud-caked cleats outside the gymnasium door, as instructed.
King, overhearing the comment while walking by, slapped Gonzalez's back and said, "Good thing you came back, huh?"
"We missed him last year not playing, but we understood he wanted to work on basketball," King said. "The first week you could tell he was rusty. He's the type of kid who not only has improved every week but he's made huge improvements every week."
Gonzalez, in fact, is one of many Viking defensive pieces who have interlocked to make a stellar unit, even though senior linebacker Zack Weatherington was the only returning starter on that side of the ball. The past four weeks, Woodbridge has allowed two special teams scores -- including an 86-yard kickoff return by Osbourn senior James Moore -- and a late-game garbage touchdown.
The Vikings, who play their Cardinal opener at Potomac next week, have proved they can perform on a dry track or in the slop. But the slop is more fun -- if you embrace it. Woodbridge junior lineman J.P. Kerr set that tone Friday night by purposely sliding in the mud the minute the team stepped on the field for warmups.
"I told them before the game that you have to go out in the beginning of the game and act like you enjoy being in the stuff," King said. "You'll be amazed how many people don't want to be in it.
"Have you ever seen a professional game canceled [because of rain]? Or a college game canceled? They don't cancel football. That's why there's not wood out there. It's not going to warp. It's a football field, go play. It's made to play on."
Schultze, whose team opens Cedar Run District play next week at home against Osbourn Park, agrees.
"It's high school football, you know?" he said. "I told our kids that these are games that as kids we all love to play. These are games you'll remember the rest of your life."