North Stafford 20,
Whatever doubts may have existed about North Stafford's dominance in the AAA Commonwealth District this season were erased by the end of the first quarter of the Wolverines' 20-0 win at Massaponax last night.
In that opening period, North Stafford's special teams forced two fumbles and returned a punt for a touchdown, its defense forced a fumble and levied some crushing hits, and the offense had contributed a touchdown pass. Quickly and decisively, the Wolverines had scored 17 points and turned the Commonwealth's marquee regular season matchup into a rout.
"We wanted to show everyone what we were about," said senior linebacker Raphael Bynum, who administered several hard hits throughout the game. "Every play, every down, we don't take a single play off."
North Stafford (7-0, 3-0) has now beaten the Commonwealth District's second- and third-place teams, Massaponax and Colonial Forge, and is on track for the district title and the top seed in the Northwestern Region Division 5 playoffs. Massaponax (6-2, 3-1), the defending district champion, is still in good playoff position, with two games remaining followed by a season-ending bye week.
A week ago, North Stafford had its shakiest performance of the year, allowing 338 yards of offense in a 49-24 win over Culpeper. Last night in Fredericksburg, the Wolverines held scoreless a Massaponax team that had averaged more than 30 points in its first seven games.
North Stafford allowed three first downs and 68 total yards of offense. The Panthers had one rush of longer than five yards, and all of their 58 passing yards came on screen passes, as a swarm of orange helmets forced junior quarterback Jay Kenney out of the pocket.
Bynum, senior linebackers Antoine Harris and Mark Kratzer and senior linemen Sidaro Edwards, Zack Wilson, Joshua Fink and Cordarrow Thompson all had tackles for losses.
"This is a game we've wanted all season," Wilson said.
While the defense punished Massaponax, North Stafford quarterback Kyle Lloyd was 7-for-10 passing for 136 yards and a first-quarter touchdown, a nine-yard pass to tight end Scott Keeven.
The quarter also featured a 66-yard punt return for a touchdown by Jeremy Wicker, and a pair of 22-yard field goals by James Flerlege.
The stiffest challenge to the North Stafford shutout came early in the fourth quarter, when Massaponax drove to the North Stafford 4 after a 36-yard punt return by senior Jason Lovett.
Two runs were stopped short of the line of scrimmage, and a third-down pass was almost intercepted. On fourth down from the 8, the Panthers attempted an end-around, but a mob of North Stafford defenders stopped the play for no gain.
"Getting the shutout means a lot to us," Bynum said. "We really wanted to shut them down."