As the excitement surrounding Friday’s rivalry game between No. 16 Yorktown and Washington-Lee generated throughout the week, Generals Coach Josh Shapiro led his team through a seemingly mundane series of practices. In an effort to get his defense ready for Yorktown’s play-action and misdirection plays, Shapiro had his unit go through the motions of each formation without a football, pausing at certain moments to make sure his defenders were in position.
By Wednesday, some of the players had had enough. This was no way to prepare for the biggest game of the year, they clamored, a contest that afforded the chance to win Washington-Lee’s first district title since 1975.
But by the end of Friday’s game, when the Generals had prevailed, 10-0, in a defensive battle in Arlington to set off a wild, on-field celebration, players had nothing but praise for their coach’s approach.
“We had a real good scheme and did so much film study this week that really helped us,” Generals defensive lineman Peter Griffin said following a three-sack performance. “Now, we get to finally say we beat Yorktown once and for all. This is the best.”
Aside from a 2010 playoff win at Yorktown, the Generals had lost 30 straight regular season games to the Patriots. What’s more, Yorktown had won 27 consecutive district contests prior to Friday’s loss.
Nothing came easy in the Generals’ bid to snap the lengthy streaks as both defenses proved tough to penetrate. Washington-Lee saw a 54-yard, first-quarter drive end with an M.J. Stewart interception, and two quarters later, the Generals were stuffed twice at the Yorktown 1-yard line to keep the game scoreless.
But Washington-Lee (8-2, 7-0 National District) remained in striking distance by holding Stewart to a season-low 41 rushing yards on 16 carries and the Patriots (8-2, 6-1) to just 188 total yards of offense.
“Our defense really carried us, and when we were having a hard time scoring, they held strong until we finally were able to move the ball down the field and finish,” said Generals running back Daquay Harris, who rushed for a game-high 202 yards.
After Henry Casey ended the drought with a 20-yard field goal near the end of the third quarter, Dwayne Williams intercepted a pass and moved the Generals back into Yorktown territory. Following two Harris runs and a big third-down catch by Trevor McManus, quarterback Sam Appel bulldozed into the end zone for a two-yard touchdown with 11 minutes 44 seconds to play that gave the Generals all the cushion they would need.
“When you carry something like this on your back for 30 years and then get the win, it’s special,” Shapiro said. “It’s been 38 years since we won the district and these guys worked hard to get this one.”