Osbourn's regular season schedule did not include Hylton and Gar-Field, teams the Eagles had lost to annually for years. Woodbridge remained on the schedule and was the only team to beat Osbourn.
With more flexibility in scheduling, playing just one of those three was better than having to play all three.
"To open with those three tough teams was a major impact on Osbourn's rough ride into being an AAA program," Eagles Coach Steve Schultze said. "This was an opportunity to get different people on the schedule. It worked out really well for us. We played a playoff caliber team in Brooke Point [in the opener] and got a come-from-behind win and got the season going."
Osbourn did play Hylton in passing leagues last spring and summer. Even if an Osbourn-Hylton region final seemed unlikely to some, it felt realistic to the Eagles.
"We said, 'We're going to see them again,' " Schultze said. "I remember the kids talking about it and looking forward to it."
Hylton Coach Lou Sorrentino said he was not concerned about his players taking Osbourn lightly, even though Hylton has beaten the Eagles in all nine meetings, by a collective 283-51 score.
"All we have to do is show them the film," Sorrentino said, citing Osbourn's 58-point effort against Franklin County on Friday.
Franklin County repeatedly crossed up the Osbourn defense in scoring 35 first-half points in the region semifinal.
"We had a couple of films and the two we had were very vanilla and we felt they were formation-oriented," Schultze said. "Our kids were guessing what play was coming based on the formation, and [Franklin] did a great job of not going with their tendencies. We got out of position quite a bit in the first half."
Franklin County, down 36-35 at the half, scored only six points in the last two quarters.
"The kids lined up and were getting their keys and reads instead of guessing," Schultze said.
"That was a great reality check for us. Most of our starters haven't [had to] play complete games. We finally got to play a full game and feel what it was like down to the wire in the final seconds." -- Hylton senior receiver-defensive back Marshall Dill, on Friday's 12-7 victory over Woodbridge.