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Briar Woods moves one step closer to third straight Virginia AA Division 4 title; Burns leads Stone Bridge into AAA Division 5 semis


Trace McSorley and Briar Woods, shown during their 2010 state semifinal win over Courtland, host the Cougars two years and two state championships after their last meeting. (Richard A. Lipski/FOR THE WASHINGTON POST)

Amidst the two straight championships, the three consecutive region titles and its current 13-0 record, it’s easy to forget that just four years ago, Briar Woods finished 4-6 and out of the playoffs. But for Falcons Coach Charlie Pierce, that season is one he recalls fondly when considering what it took to build his program’s current dynasty.

“The last part of the 2009 season, we won our last three games and that gave me an inkling of what this program could be,” Pierce said, two days after the Falcons blew past Loudoun County 31-0 to claim another AA Region II Division 4 crown. “At that time, only six teams made the playoffs, and I remember telling people that if eight teams had gotten in, we could have caused some problems because I liked the direction we were headed in.”

Still, the 2010 season brought its doubts after star running back Michael Brownlee broke his leg in the first contest. During the five games that Brownlee was sidelined, Pierce adjusted his offensive scheme, turning to then-freshman quarterback Trace McSorley to lead more of a spread attack.

“Our offense really evolved and it allowed Trace to get a handle of things so that when Brownlee came back, we were really balanced and could do a lot more on offense,” Pierce said of a unit that produced 4,530 yards that season.

The rest, as they say, is history, with the Falcons winning the first of back-to-back state titles and setting the stage for this year’s program, which is averaging nearly 45 points per game while giving up less than a touchdown per contest. Briar Woods hosts Courtland in Saturday’s AA Division 4 semifinals. Two years ago the Falcons crushed the Cougars 52-8 in the same round before beating Harrisonburg for their first title.

Bulldogs keep rolling with Burns at the helm

Stone Bridge quarterback Ryan Burns set a new school record during Friday’s 69-50 win in the Virginia AAA Northern Region Division 5 championship. The senior’s 163 passing yards in the contest pushed his total to 2,337 (and counting) for the season, marking the highest single-season output for a quarterback in program history.

“It feels good to have achieved something like that,” the Stanford recruit said. “I guess I’ll have my name on the wall in the gym after this season, which is pretty cool. But really, my focus is on winning a state championship, so hopefully we’ll have bigger things ahead to celebrate.”

Burns, who went 4-for-6 with three total touchdowns in last week’s win, has also thrown for 28 touchdowns and just seven interceptions entering Saturday’s Division 5 semifinal at Hanover.

Brandon Parker is a sports reporter for The Washington Post.
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