From a 16-year-old Trace McSorley tossing an interception in the end zone to a bizarre penalty involving a sideline collision with an official, even the minutest details surrounding 2011’s season-opening loss to Broad Run don’t escape Briar Woods Coach Charlie Pierce.
McSorley, Pierce’s four-year starting quarterback, also remembers those details, and the Vanderbilt recruit is keen to point out what a majority of his current teammates don’t recall – the days before winning was seemingly automatic.
“Last year, we had some seniors that had played and been on the squad for the three state championships,” McSorley said. “They were able to see the program go up through the ranks from when we weren’t so great to when we turned that corner – when leadership and the entire culture changed. [This year’s group] hasn’t really seen that.”
These 2013 Falcons did witness the end of a winning streak that spanned parts of three calendar years. Their undefeated run ended with a 19-7 loss to North Stafford on Sept. 20.
“It was an eye-opening thing,” Pierce said. “It allowed us to relax, step back, and breathe normal again.”
When the No. 6 Falcons (5-1, 1-0 Potomac District) face the Spartans on Friday in Ashburn, they’ll play host to a team that may only be starting to exhale.
Broad Run (5-1, 1-0) trailed Tuscarora 17-6 in the fourth quarter on Monday before dialing up a key goal line stop and rallying to win 21-17.
With just three days of practice between tilts, the Spartans are still riding an emotional high. But they know a cloud of good feelings won’t be enough to carry them on Friday.
“Our guys know that we can’t just show up and expect to be amazing just because of momentum, but I feel like that’s helped emotionally and psyche-wise coming into this game — knowing that when we need to make plays, we can make them,” Broad Run Coach Matt Griffis said.
The Spartans have run on a condensed practice schedule this week, consolidating their usual Tuesday and Wednesday workouts. Doing so has made preparations for Briar Woods “a little stressful,” said Griffis.
Consistency will be the watchword for the Spartans against Briar Woods, as the coach insists his squad hasn’t yet put together a complete 48 minutes of football.
“Briar Woods is a great program,” Griffis said. “We can’t give them any advantage by taking a quarter off.”
Since this season’s re-alignment bumped Briar Woods up from AA Division 4 to 5A, McSorley hasn’t seen of the Falcons’ opponents shy away from their chance to dethrone the champs.
“We’re playing against a different level of competition,” the four-year starter said. “Previously, we were playing teams that might roll over had they seen Briar Woods on their schedule, but now no one is going to roll over for us.”
Expect the Spartans to focus on containing the Vanderbilt commit. McSorley has thrown for 1,254 yards and 10 touchdowns and run for 406 yards and eight scores through six games.
“You just have to give him different looks [on defense],” Griffis said of slowing McSorley. “You can’t let him get comfortable. They do a heck of a job using him as a throwing and a passer. There’s a reason he’s going to Vanderbilt to play in the SEC.”