Best Postseason Push: Two weeks after setting his career high with 244 rushing yards, Oakton senior running back Keith Payne set another career high yesterday. He ran for 250 yards in Oakton's 28-7 win over Landstown in the Virginia AAA Division 6 championship game in Hampton. In four playoff games, Payne rushed for 722 yards and has scored 12 total touchdowns. Spending most of the game shadowing Percy Harvin on defense, Payne held the national player of the year candidate to 49 yards total offense.
Most Imposing: Oakton's defense held Landstown, a team averaging more than 45 points a game before yesterday, to seven points. Senior defensive tackle Jared Ruppert had two of the Cougars' five sacks, and the Cougars forced three turnovers.
Most Courageous Calls: Stone Bridge Coach Mickey Thompson had his team go for it on three different fourth-down plays in its 15-8 loss to Hampton in the Virginia AAA Division 5 final. Each proved successful. The Bulldogs converted a fourth and 1 from their 31 in the first quarter as well as a fourth and 10 from Hampton's 47 and a fourth and 8 from their 22 in the third quarter. And had Stone Bridge scored when it drove inside Hampton's 5 with just over three minutes remaining, Thompson said there is no question he would have gone for a two-point conversion -- and the lead -- then, too. "I already had the play in my head," he said.
Best Celebration: With several reserves finishing up a 38-3 victory in the Maryland 2A title game, a few starters for Potomac (Md.) posed on the sideline near midfield as an assistant coach snapped some pictures. Because there were no full water coolers on the bench, some players emptied 12-ounce water bottles into a large cooler to douse an assistant coach.
Best All-Around: In a 35-34 loss to Giles in the Virginia A Division 2 final, Manassas Park quarterback Jay Terrell rushed for 134 yards, passed for 160 yards and returned a kickoff 78 yards for a TD, allowing the Cougars to keep pace with Giles's prolific single-wing attack.
Most Striking Difference: Since 1986, when Virginia went to six classifications for football, schools from Northern Virginia have won 14 AAA Division 6 football championships and nine of the last ten. In AAA Division 5, however, Northern Virginia programs have won four of 20 titles and just one of the past 15 (Culpeper in 1999).
Compiled by Josh Barr, Liam Dillon, Sean P. Flynn and Angela Watts