Jefferson hopes for return to playoffs, Oakton looks for turnaround
By Brandon Parker and Preston Williams,
Game to watch: Jefferson (5-4) at South Lakes (3-6), Friday, 7:30 p.m.
It’s been four years since Jefferson made the playoffs and even longer – seven years – since the Colonials finished with a record of .500 or above. But thanks to the timely return of four starters from injury and a two-game win streak, the Colonials find themselves with a chance to accomplish both entering Friday’s contest at South Lakes.
Jefferson needs a win against the Seahawks and a McLean loss to guarantee its spot in the postseason. The play of Patrick O’Connor, who missed two games with an injury, has been critical of late. The senior has totaled 358 rushing yards and four touchdowns in the last two games.
His continued big-play ability will be needed to counter a South Lakes’ offense that exploded last week in a 53-0 win against Marshall. Rashaan Jones recorded seven touchdowns from the quarterback and defensive back positions to lead the Seahawks, who snapped a three-game losing streak.
“Containing their speed and ability to make big plays will be key for us come Friday,” Jefferson Coach Ken Kincaid said. “And doing that doesn’t just fall on the defense; we also have to keep moving the ball and put it in the end zone on offense, too.”
Oakton hopes for turnaround
The Cougars (6-3) have turned the ball over five times during their current three-game losing streak, with the most recent defeat ending with a missed extra-point attempt in overtime against Robinson. Reversing this trend won’t be easy with Concorde District rival Centreville (6-3) on tap for the regular-season finale, but according to Downer, it’s a must if the Cougars want to keep their season alive.
“It’s hard to lose four straight games and then go into the playoffs and expect to go anywhere,” said Downer, who has totaled 1,874 yards and 25 touchdowns. “Our attitude going in is to try to gain some momentum back and set ourselves up to meet our goals going forward.”
Rowlett steps up for Robinson
Robinson’s strategy remains the same as it’s been all season – get tailback Joe Wilson the ball early and often – but during the Rams’ two-game win streak, a few new offensive looks have brought welcome success.
Since stepping in under center midway through a loss to Lake Braddock, sophomore quarterback Jack Rowlett has added a passing threat to the Rams’ run-heavy offense. In his last two games, Rowlett has gone 15-for-23 with 200 yards and three touchdowns through the air, helping the Rams (5-4) average 40 points in that span. On the receiving end of many of those passes has been Turner Peterson, a speedy athlete who excels at wideout and on special teams.
“It’s pretty obvious that everybody focuses on Joe, so when we can excel in other areas on offense, it helps keep the defense off balance,” Rowlett said. “Coach [Trey] Taylor has done a good job of putting the right pieces around me to make sure I can excel in this new role.”
Rotary Bowl moves to Saturday
The rivalry game between McLean (4-5) and Langley (5-4) has been moved to Saturday at 4 p.m., adding more intrigue to a contest that already possessed plenty of hype. McLean is in contention with three other teams for the final two Division 5 playoff spots while a Langley victory will punch its ticket into the postseason.
The Highlanders have won two of their last three matchups with the Saxons, but Langley enters this year’s contest with the momentum, winning its last two games behind Philip Mun’s 439 rushing yards. Meanwhile, McLean has lost three straight by an average margin of 23.3 points.
Around the Northern Region
Rather than rooting for McLean or Jefferson to lose, Edison (5-4) would prefer to knock off Hayfield to solidify its Northern Region Division 5 playoff berth. Hayfield has beaten the Eagles in all three meetings since joining the National District.
“Their team always has had that special player that in the last three or four years we couldn’t hold onto or stop,” said Edison Coach Anthony Parker, whose team is on a three-game winning streak. “This year we feel we can match up with them.”
Senior linebacker Lonnie Edwards leads the Eagles in tackles.
Edison reached the playoffs every season but one between 2000 and 2009 but slipped to 3-7 and 4-6 the past two seasons.
Hayfield has won four straight since its consecutive losses to Madison (7-2), No. 14 Yorktown (9-0) and Centreville (6-3), games determined by a total of 15 points. . . .
Wakefield (0-9), a 1-9 team each of the past three years, is trying to avoid its first 0-10 season since 2004 by winning a home game Friday against Mount Vernon (3-6). Long-time Wakefield stat man Frank Haddock said that Wakefield has not won a regular season finale on its home field since 1983 (not counting a 1997 win over Mount Vernon played at Washington-Lee). . . .
Falls Church (2-7) plays at Stuart (2-7) in the annual season-ending Bell Game. Stuart has won the past two years to break the Jaguars’ five-game winning streak in the series. Stuart leads all-time, 32-19-1. . . .
Yorktown (9-0) will go for its second consecutive unbeaten regular season at Washington-Lee (5-4). Yorktown would be only the third program to accomplish that feat in the Northern Region in the past 20 years. Robinson went 10-0 for three straight seasons from 2002 to 2004. Westfield did in 2002-2003 and 2006-2007 and could make it another two years in a row this season. . . .
West Potomac junior running back Demornay Pierson-El, who sat out the second half of a 34-10 loss last week at West Springfield because of a leg injury, is questionable for the regular season finale Friday against T.C. Williams (4-5). Pierson-El has scored 25 touchdowns for the Wolverines (6-3) this season, third-most in the Washington area. “He’s day to day,” West Potomac Coach Jeremiah Davis said Thursday afternoon. “We’ll see how he’s doing tomorrow on it.”
South County (4-5) can secure a Division 5 playoff berth with a home win over W.T. Woodson (2-7). South County has outscored its past three opponents 161-33.
No. 18 Lake Braddock will try to beat West Springfield (6-3) for the fourth straight year.
Lee (3-6) won three of its first four games. It since has been outscored 218-14, with three shutout losses. Annandale (1-8) has lost six straight and could finish 1-9 for the second consecutive season after losing as many as eight games only once in the previous 20-plus years.
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