On the day Georgetown Prep claimed the top spot in the Washington area rankings for the first time in 30 years, the school announced that it will face perennial power Gonzaga next season, bolstering a schedule that has been called soft by some critics.
The Little Hoyas and the Eagles are the only area teams to finish the season with perfect records.
Gonzaga (10-0), which rose to No. 2 in this week's rankings after claiming the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championship with a 12-7 victory over DeMatha, has not faced Georgetown Prep in football since a 14-14 tie in 1988. The Little Hoyas entered that game with a 25-game winning streak.
Next season, Georgetown Prep (9-0) will open with an area-long 29-game winning streak and three straight Interstate Athletic Conference championships.
"I think it's a great honor" to be ranked number one, Little Hoyas Coach Dan Paro said. "It's not something that you sit and focus on, but it is well-deserving to the seniors that have worked hard the last three or four years. I'm proud of their accomplishments on and off the field. It reaffirms what we have been trying to teach these young guys -- that if you work hard, good things will happen."
Georgetown Prep boasts perhaps the best running back in the Washington area, All-Met Marcus Mason. The 5-foot-8, 198-pound senior set the Maryland career rushing records for yards (5,662) and touchdowns (87). Mason finished with 1,498 yards and 29 touchdowns this season.
Defensively, the Little Hoyas shut out six opponents, including a 14-0 victory over Bullis in the IAC championship game. Georgetown Prep yielded only nine points per game.
Considering the success Joe Trabucco had during his eight seasons at Liberty High in Bealeton, his accomplishments at South Lakes are no surprise. The Seahawks went from one victory last season to nine wins and a trip to the Virginia AAA Division 5 semifinals.
On Friday, South Lakes claimed the Reston school's biggest victory in more than a decade when it defeated W.T. Woodson, 7-2, on a late touchdown by fullback Charles Mayah. The win, which gave the Seahawks their first region championship since 1991, qualified them for the state playoffs, where they will face reigning champion Phoebus (12-0) in the semifinals on Saturday at Darling Stadium in Hampton.
Trabucco never has shied away from a good challenge. Prior to coming to South Lakes, Trabucco started the program at Liberty in 1994 and quickly turned the Eagles into winners. He directed the team to two Region II and three Northwestern District championships in his final four seasons, including last year's 12-1 mark.
"The expectations weren't that high for this season," Trabucco said. "When I got here, I thought we could win. I could see the kids were tough enough and mean enough that if we could get a winning attitude around here, we'd be all right."
Oakton Keeps Close
Although Oakton's 31-29 victory over then-No.1 Robinson in the Virginia AAA Division 6 Northern Region championship on Saturday may have been a surprise, it was not to Cougars Coach Pete Bendorf.
Just take a look at his team's three losses, he said, which came against Madison, Centreville and Westfield -- all playoff contenders. In fact, the losses came by a total of 12 points and each game was decided by a mistake or bad bounce of the ball at the wrong moment.
"It's definitely not surprising to us," Bendorf said. "We were right there in all three games. We probably controlled play in two of them; we just made critical mistakes."
After two fourth-quarter fumbles helped Robinson rally from an 11-point deficit, it appeared Oakton (9-3) was in for more heartbreak. But quarterback Pat Day, who yesterday was named the region's offensive player of the year, spared the Cougars disappointment.
Day weaved his way through Robinson's defense before diving into the end zone for the winning touchdown in the final seconds.
Stafford Stands Out
In clinching its first state semifinal berth, Stafford has reached uncharted territory. But in a season of firsts for the 50-year-old school, the Indians are used to it.
On Friday, Stafford (10-2) clinched a trip to the semifinals with a 14-6 victory over Culpeper in the Virginia AAA Division 5 Northwest Region championship. Stafford travels to Hopewell for a Division 5 semifinal on Saturday at 1:30 p.m.
"It's great to be part of the greatest Stafford team ever," said senior running back Thomas McClelland, who finished with 216 yards against Culpeper. "Hopefully we can start a new tradition here."
This season the Indians already have clinched their best record in more than 30 years and defeated Culpeper twice after going winless against the Blue Devils for 33 years.
McClelland leads the way behind an effective line anchored by 6-foot-5, 294-pounder John Bradshaw. McClelland has rushed for 2,172 yards and 25 touchdowns this season, both school bests.
Against Culpeper, McClelland had 48 carries; only 13 offensive plays did not involve the 5-11, 170-pound senior.
"When we see Thomas dragging five guys for a few extra yards, that just picks up the whole team," quarterback Michael Allshouse said.
With timely defensive stands to match its explosive offense, Stone Bridge answered critics who said the Bulldogs were one-dimensional. The Bulldogs' next challenge is to show they can start games as well as they finish.
For three consecutive games, each of which could have ended their season, the Bulldogs allowed an opponent to seize momentum at the beginning of a half.
In Stone Bridge's regular season finale, the Bulldogs scored on the third quarter's first play from scrimmage to take a 28-20 lead at Potomac Falls. However, the Panthers took a 35-28 lead early in the fourth. After that, Potomac Falls was held to minus-14 yards as Stone Bridge prevailed, 42-35.
Last week, Charlottesville turned two Stone Bridge fumbles into a 14-0 lead less than three minutes in. After the Bulldogs rallied to tie the score at 21 entering halftime, Charlottesville scored on two long passes in the third quarter to take a 35-21 lead. Stone Bridge held the Knights without a first down the rest of way and won, 45-35.
On Saturday, Fauquier drove 96 yards on its first possession and took an 8-0 lead before Stone Bridge scored 27 unanswered points to lead 27-8 at halftime. The Bulldogs, however, only earned one first down in the first 15 minutes of the second half as Fauquier rallied to 27-21.
"For some reason, the first and third quarters aren't good for us," junior linebacker Danny Jones said. "Maybe we just need to get yelled at a little bit."
Staff writer Alan Goldenbach and special correspondent Sean P. Flynn contributed to this report.