“Can we do anything right tonight?” asked a disgruntled Broad Run assistant coach.
His answer — if he needed one — came a few minutes later in the form of a rhythmic roar from the mostly white-clad throng of teenagers that comprised the Falcons’ student cheering section.
Having seen their classmates move the ball practically unimpeded while jumping out to a commanding early lead in what ended in a 34-0 rout, these fans were looking ahead. And their message was clear.
“We want Stone Bridge,” they chanted.
That matchup – in the wake of this season’s Virginia High School League realignment – is now finally possible. If both squads advance, the two perennial Ashburn powers could meet in the 5A North region playoffs.
With the win, Briar Woods now sits atop the Potomac District standings and after a setback against North Stafford, looks ripe for a run at a fourth straight state title.
“All I have to say is bring them [Bulldogs] on,” said junior cornerback Chris McMillian, who accounted for two of Briar Woods’s five interceptions.
The Falcons intercepted Spartans junior passer Brady Reitzel on three of Broad Run’s first four drives. Reitzel said he fell hard on his throwing shoulder early in the first half, and as a result his passes were devoid of their usual zip.
Briar Woods (6-1, 2-0 Potomac) dialed up a mixture of overload pressure and max coverage play calls to keep Reitzel and the Spartans guessing.
“That threw them off,” said McMillian. “They didn’t know [which receiver] we were going to jump to, if we were going to jump at all.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever thrown five picks in one season before, so it was a rough night,” Reitzel said.
His foil — Vanderbilt recruit Trace McSorley — executed a nearly flawless first half under center, completing 12 of 14 passes for 170 yards and a touchdown at the break. By night’s end, the four-year starter accounted for three touchdowns, including a pair of scoring tosses to senior receiver Melvin Holland Jr.
McSorley exited the game briefly in the fourth quarter after absorbing a shot to his ribs during a midair collision. But he returned on the both sides of the ball to play out the game’s final few possessions.
With Broad Run (5-2, 1-1) still riding momentum from Monday’s comeback win over Tuscarora, the Falcons wanted to set the tone early. The Spartans dealt Briar Woods its last loss to an area school in Sept. 2011.
“We focused on getting positive yards on first down, maintaining a positive tempo, and not having any turnovers,” McSorley said. The fast start was what we set out to do, and we figured what better game to do it than now?”
McSorley balked at the chance to hype up a potential postseason date with Stone Bridge, but couldn’t entirely conceal his piqued interest.
“I heard [them chanting],” he said. “I don’t want to go out there and say anything, but that would be one great game.”