Heritage's defensive front, including Brett Barcelona, Alex Jefferson, Hatim Lahlou, Tyler Langmead and Cyprian Yankey, vs. Potomac Falls senior RB-QB Jay Branom.
Since moving to a single-wing formation earlier this season, Branom has been difficult to stop. The area's leading rusher has totaled more than 100 yards in each of his past five games, including more than 200 yards three times. Last week Branom amassed a career-high 276 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 48 carries against AA Dulles District leader Park View.
Although Branom has thrown a few times since taking over, completing 14 of 32 passes for 247 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions, it is no secret he will run most of the time.
"Oh, man, he just doesn't get tired," Heritage Coach Wes Driskill said. "He's like the Energizer Bunny out there. You have to be in a good position to tackle him, because if you get caught not in the right place, he's going to get right by you. You have to play very smart, on every play, to stop him."
Potomac Falls's heartbreaking overtime loss to Park View last week seemingly knocked both the Panthers and the Pride out of playoff contention. The teams would need back-to-back losses by Park View in its final two regular season games to be back in the hunt.
Overcoming that disappointment will be key for both teams to finish this season on a positive note.
"It was brutal," Coach Casey Childs said of the overtime loss. "You see these kids walking down the hallways at school, and they're still hurting. But they're a resilient group, and I know they'll bounce back. They have a lot of pride."
Heritage's five wins have ensured the Pride its best record in school history, but finishing above .500 remains vitally important to the team's seniors.
"It looks like we don't have the playoffs to shoot for, so that's our next biggest objective," Driskill said. "We need to finish this year out right. We've had some close losses, and we've learned from those mistakes and are very motivated to have a great finish."
-- ANGELA WATTS