Edison wide receivers Justin Smith and P.J. Williams vs. Loudoun Valley cornerbacks Kody Farr and J.D. Harkey.
It's true the unbeaten Eagles run the ball more than they throw it. Fullback Keone Kyle, the team's leading rusher with 669 yards and 10 touchdowns, is a load at 6 feet 1, 242 pounds. Tailbacks Devan Clark (666 yards, 8 TDs) and Justin Brock (236 yards, 3 TDs) are also more than capable of breaking long runs. But Edison's running game has succeeded largely because defenses have to spread out to honor the passing ability of Shawn Lloyd and the speed of Smith and Williams on the corners.
Smith has caught 23 passes this season -- more than half of Lloyd's 44 completions -- for 419 yards and five touchdowns. Williams has added seven catches for 180 yards and two touchdowns.
"The thing we've seen with those two guys is that they've shown the ability to just run right past everyone who's defended them," Vikings Coach Bruce Sheppard said. "They don't emphasize the passing game necessarily, but I think they definitely could. And that forces you to have to defend the entire field."
The task of containing Edison's deep threats will fall to Farr and Harkey, as solid a pair of cover corners as any tandem in the AAA National District. Farr (5-11, 180) and Harkey (6-0, 170) are deceptively quick and also extremely physical.
The winner of this game will have at least a one-game lead over every other team in the AAA National District with two games remaining in the regular season. Capturing the district title -- and with it the automatic berth into the regional playoffs -- is particularly important for Loudoun Valley. Because the Vikings opened their season against two Class AA teams in Loudoun County and Park View, finishing in second place, even with an 8-2 record, probably will not be enough to get them into the playoffs on power points.
"No disrespect to anyone else, but we feel this will be the game to decide the district crown," Sheppard said.
-- ANGELA WATTS