It doesn't matter what play is called or which unit is on the field, Oakton Coach Joe Thompson said, everyone on the Cougars' sideline is eyeing one player, Cody Grimm, just waiting for him to do something special.
And since Grimm is always in the game, he doesn't usually make his teammates -- or their opponent -- wait very long.
Tonight, Grimm, a 5-foot-11, 180-pound senior who plays tight end, linebacker, short and long snapper, on kickoff coverage and on the punt block unit, will lead Oakton against Virginia AAA Division 5 Northern Region champion Madison in one of the area's best neighborhood rivalries.
The Warhawks had plenty of Grimm's highlights from last year's game to study during film sessions this week. The son of former Washington Redskins offensive lineman Russ Grimm, one of the "Hogs" during the franchise's glory years in the 1980s, Cody Grimm made a season-high 11 solo tackles and five assists against the Warhawks in the Cougars' 13-10 come-from-behind victory. It was Grimm's first varsity start.
"Like most really good football players, his motor is always running," Madison Coach Gordon Lieb said of Grimm. "He never takes a play off. He's in constant motion from whistle to whistle."
Grimm said he doesn't remember life before football. He began playing in the second grade, and often tagged along with his father to Redskins' practices and games. The last two years, he attended the Steelers' training camp in Pittsburgh, where his father is the assistant head coach-offensive line. Cody Grimm's older brother, Chad, a 2003 Oakton graduate, plays linebacker for Virginia Tech.
"I've been around the game all my life," said Cody Grimm, who wants to follow Chad's path to Virginia Tech. "I got to watch training camps and go to practices and sit in on [Russ's] meeting rooms. I talk to him every day, mostly about football. It's definitely an advantage."
Said Russ Grimm, who hopes to attend at least two Oakton games despite the rigors of being an NFL coach: "Cody has never been pushed. I never had him out early in the morning running sprints or anything. He's done it on his own because he just really loves the game. He's got great instincts."
Centreville players are aware of Cody's Grimm's instincts. In the Cougars' 14-7 overtime victory against the Wildcats last season, Grimm was the difference. After Oakton grabbed the lead on its overtime possession, Grimm stuffed the running back at the line of scrimmage on first down, caused a fumble in the backfield on second down, resulting in a nine-yard loss, then defended a pass into the end zone on third. Centreville didn't recover.
"He's just so much fun to watch," Thompson said. "He makes a great play every day. We just stand there waiting for him to make it."
Directions: Take the Beltway to Interstate 66 west. The first exit will be Nutley Road. Turn right and drive north toward Route 123. Turn left onto Route 123 and take the first right onto James Madison Drive. Follow the road to the school.
-- Tarik El-Bashir