Stonewall Jackson senior lineman Ryan Nokes and his teammates were plenty chipper as they made their way to the practice field yesterday to begin preparing for the school's first Virginia AAA Northwestern Region playoff game since 1996.
One problem -- the Raiders were not sure for whom exactly they were preparing.
Because of games postponed to last night, Stonewall was uncertain if it would face fellow Prince William County school Woodbridge next weekend or George Washington-Danville, a school about five hours away about whom they know nothing.
"It's really awkward, because we usually know the team we're playing against," said Nokes, whose coaches traded game films with Danville coaches on Saturday just in case the teams wound up playing each other.
As it turned out, the film swap was not in vain. Hylton defeated Forest Park, 31-14, last night, to wrap up the top seed in the region. The Bulldogs will host Woodbridge this weekend and GW-Danville will travel to Stonewall.
For Woodbridge Coach Keith King, knowing that his Vikings would play either Hylton or Stonewall -- teams they've faced already this season -- made the uncertainty only slightly more tolerable.
"It's a pain," King said before practice yesterday. "I think everybody has been trying to figure it out this whole weekend so they can start preparing. I think it makes it a little bit easier the fact that we have played [those teams]. We can get into our prep work a little easier."
There were questions, too, in the Northwestern Region Division 5 pairings. Because of games last night, top seed North Stafford was not sure whether it would host Colonial Forge or Potomac (Va.).
Edison Coach Vaughn Lewis has faced all sorts of situations during his long, distinguished coaching career. On Friday, he'll do something for the first time: face the same opponent in back-to-back weeks.
The Eagles will host Jefferson in the first round of the AAA Northern Region Division 5 playoffs seven days after Edison beat the Colonials, 25-13, to claim its fourth AAA National District championship since 2000.
Jefferson (8-2) is in the playoffs for the first time since 1988; Edison (8-2) is seeking its first region title since 1986.
"I'm not sure what to expect, but one thing I am sure of is Jefferson won't turn the ball over five times like they did last week," Lewis said. "It's going to be more difficult the second time around."
Jefferson's vaunted passing attack struggled last Friday, due in part to the cold temperatures and strong wind gusts, but also because of a key injury. The Colonials were without wide receiver-defensive back Shane Warren for most of the game because of a bruised leg. Warren is expected to start this week, Coach Tim O'Reilly said.
Oakton finished the regular season 9-1, with its only loss being by six points to undefeated Robinson. The Cougars also captured their first district title in 25 years by winning the difficult AAA Concorde District.
Yet on Friday night, Oakton will travel to Westfield -- one of the teams it beat -- for a first-round Northern Region Division 6 semifinal because of a new rule that bases playoff seeding on a team's power-point rating. But there is no whining from the Oakton locker room.
"We're eager to play," Oakton Coach Joe Thompson said. "Where we play is out of our control, so we're not even thinking about that."
Perhaps the sentiment would be different had Westfield not been the scene of Oakton's biggest win this season. The Cougars halted the state champion Bulldogs' 21-game winning streak on Oct. 29.
The Cougars may have a different quarterback this time around. Senior Reid Teschner missed Friday's game against Herndon with an injured thumb on his throwing hand, so backup Kevin Houghton made his first start. The junior was 13-of-18 passing for 233 yards and two touchdowns in the Cougars' 36-14 win.