After the band had cleared and before either team had returned from the locker room, there were just two players on the turf at Stone Bridge. Broad Run quarterback Mitch Griffis, coming off a taxing first half, threw the football back and forth with his brother Brett, his backup.

The first half of Loudoun County’s “Battle of the ’Burn” rivalry was electric, and the Griffis brothers were enjoying a quiet moment before the storm of the second half.

With a full complement of Spartans surrounding him, the senior quarterback sparkled in the second half, leading No. 10 Broad Run to a 35-21 victory in the 18th edition of this clash between Ashburn powers. He finished with 367 passing yards, three touchdowns through the air and two on the ground in his final game against the Bulldogs.

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“I saw heart from him. Passion. That’s all you can ask for from your quarterback,” senior wide receiver Romy Miner said. “We’ve been playing together since eighth grade, and he shows nothing but that. Nothing but character. I love that man.”

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In years past, the game has been played with major Class 5 playoff implications attached. But after the Spartans (10-0) moved down to Class 4 this fall, the rivalry now comes with only bragging rights.

“You saw, this means a lot to them,” Coach Matt Griffis said. “We had a lot of kids injured coming into this game, and they came to me and said, ‘Hey, I’m not going to miss this.’ You saw, they were warriors.”

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While Stone Bridge (9-1) has won 14 of the 18 meetings in the series, the rivalry has grown more competitive in recent seasons. This is the second time in the past three years the two programs have entered this game, played in the last week of the regular season, undefeated.

On Friday night the Spartans looked more than ready for the postseason as the defense repeatedly stifled Stone Bridge’s signature single-wing. By the end of the night, the Spartans had forced five turnovers and outscored the high-powered Bulldogs 22-7 in the second half.

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Mitch Griffis has been banged up recently and missed last week’s game against Briar Woods. But he seemed invincible for most of Friday, eluding pressure and consistently extending drives.

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With three minutes left and the Spartans needing a touchdown to seal the victory, a quarterback draw left Griffis on the turf for a long time. Slowly, he came to the sideline.

He sat out one play, then returned for a fifth and final score, punching it in himself from two yards out. Afterward, he collapsed on the bench and put his head in his hands.

“I’m hurt everywhere,” he said following the victory.

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