The Washington Post

Washington-Lee looks to end Yorktown’s National District football reign

Longtime Coach Bruce Hanson and Yorktown have dominated the Nationa District for years, but Washington-Lee should give their Arlington rivals a stern test in Friday’s regular-season finale. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

Less than three miles separate Washington-Lee and Yorktown high schools, but for the past few decades, the distance between their respective football teams has drifted quite a bit further.

Entering Friday’s contest at Yorktown, the Patriots have defeated Washington-Lee in 30 straight regular-season meetings and won 27 consecutive National District contests. These numbers aren’t lost on the Generals seniors, who have spent this season erasing several of their past shortcomings, such as notching their first winning record in 18 years and clinching their first playoff berth since 2010. With both teams undefeated in district play, the Generals now have their sights on dethroning their rivals and winning their first title since 1975.

“We’re excited for the playoffs, but this Yorktown game means the world to us,” Generals quarterback Sam Appel said. “Our senior class has really connected from back when we were all on the freshman team, so we’ve been thinking about this moment for a while.”

The Generals (7-2, 6-0 National District) are coming off their most productive game of the season, a 56-21 win against Wakefield in which they racked up 436 yards and scored two defensive touchdowns. A similar effort will be needed to slow down the Patriots, who are fueled by North Carolina recruit and standout running back/defensive back M.J. Stewart. Despite missing a game and a half this season, Stewart has accumulated 1,387 yards and 24 touchdowns behind his effective blend of power and speed.

“Defensively, I told the guys we have to play with passion and know our assignments so that we can be effective against their weapons,” Generals Coach Josh Shapiro said.

Defenders like lineman Mark Varner, safety Noah Harrington and linebacker Aaron Patron have been key in the Generals allowing 21 points or less in eight of their nine games. Their senior leadership will also be vital in recapturing the success of their freshman year, when the Generals last beat Yorktown in a 2010 first-round playoff game. That victory ended a winless streak against the Patriots that dated back to 1982.

“You couldn’t ask for a better stage with great teams and rivals peaking out for the district title,” said Generals senior wide receiver Trevor McManus said. “In these type of games, it comes down to who wants it more.”

Brandon Parker is a sports reporter for The Washington Post.
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