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Virginia 6A North football: Battlefield looks to bounce back against Langley

Host B.J. Koubaroulis previews the first round VHSL match up between No. 18 Langley and Battlefield. (Nick Plum for Synthesis/Koubaroulis LLC./The Washington Post)

After allowing six touchdowns in Friday’s 42-35 loss at Patriot, the Battlefield Bobcats sat in the visitor’s locker room in dead silence. Minutes prior they had allowed 431 rushing yards and 42 points. Both were season highs for a defense that entered the game allowing 16 points per game.

Battlefield Coach Mark Cox prepped his team to limit Patriot quarterback Cody Agnew from airing it out, so when the Pioneers consistenly ran the ball, it turned out to be a surprise the Bobcats couldn’t handle.

“Not to take anything away from Patriot, their running backs were spectacular, but we had a couple injuries in that game,” Cox said. “We weren’t getting lined up correctly, and we weren’t prepared well enough against the run.”

Senior Delaware recruit Brandon Whaley said the Bobcats were embarrassed after the performance. But Battlefield didn’t have any time to sulk. The defense has spent this week preparing for an even stronger running attack in No. 18 Langley (8-2).

Saxons running back Tyler West has 1,800 yards with 20 touchdowns and runs behind a mammoth offensive line. Langley quarterback Nick Casso has also benefited from the push up front, as he’s thrown for 1,449 yards and 18 touchdowns.

Lake Braddock's Caleb Henderson, a UNC recruit, shares a special relationship with his father, Eric Henderson, the offensive coordinator at Lake Braddock. (Nick Plum for Synthesis/Koubaroulis LLC./The Washington Post)

“This week we’ve been doing lots of inside run practice, and working on getting our hands on the tackles,” Whaley said. “We have to make sure we have our hands on somebody and not let them drive us back for positive gains.”

Battlefield all-conference safety Corey Parker said the team has made the required adjustments, “so a team won’t be able to run it down our throats again.”

For junior quarterback Matt Gallagher, it will be his first playoff start for a Battlefield squad making its seventh straight postseason appearance. He spent the last two seasons as backup to Ryan Swingle, a freshman quarterback at VMI.

Gallagher has improved weekly according to Cox, and has taken great care of the football. He’s passed for 1,563 yards and nine touchdowns with five interceptions.

“It’s kind of cool to finally be the man leading the team in the playoffs.” Gallagher said. “It’s something I’m going to cherish while it’s here. I’m looking forward to the playoffs because you never know what can happen.”

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