“I feel like everyone and their mother is here,” said the boy.
From nearly one hour before kickoff until the last of the Stone Bridge student section spilled out onto the field to celebrate a thrilling 31-30 overtime victory, the thousands on hand stood elbow to elbow captivated by the renewal of a long-dormant rivalry between two of northern Virginia’s premier programs.
The Bulldogs and Spartans last met in 2004, the season before Stone Bridge moved up to the state’s AAA classification and before Broad Run began to rebuild a program that has captured two state titles in the past three years.
But despite the fact that the seniors on the field Friday night were merely fifth graders the last time the two teams met, there was no doubt the rivalry had endured despite its hiatus.
“People have been waiting to see this game for a long time,” said Shenandoah University senior defensive back Phil Volz who kicked for the Bulldogs during the 2004 season. “They’ve wondered how these two teams would match up now that they’re both built up. This is like a bowl game at the high school level.”
The game lived up to the hype and then some. Broad Run appeared poised to run away with a lopsided win when it took a 24-0 lead into the half. But the resilient Bulldogs battled back, capitalizing on second-half turnovers to draw even with three touchdowns and two-point conversions. Ben Lambourne’s extra point in overtime sealed a remarkable comeback that gives the Bulldogs the upper hand in the rivalry. . . at least for now.
Joe Law, 57, was one of numerous former Spartans in the stands who played for Broad Run alongside Stone Bridge Coach Mickey Thompson in the 1970s. He drove down from Michigan for the game and was impressed with the atmosphere.
“It’s kind of mind-blowing,” he said. “Our entire football team had 30-40 people back then and to see where football is in Ashburn now… everything has changed.”
“I remember being in high school — Friday night is what it’s all about,” Moss said. “My oldest son is just getting into football, and I just look at this atmosphere, and you never know — he might be playing on one of these teams in a few years.”
While fans can debate who the better team may be following Friday’s game, one thing is crystal clear: the rivalry is back in a big way.
“It’s a great rivalry — two tough teams battling it out to the very end,” Stone Bridge senior Mike Tompkins said. “Every second counts and it’s just great to come out on top.”