Wedged almost perfectly between Thanksgiving and Christmas, local high school football fans have become accustomed to a new type of holiday tradition that falls on a Saturday early in December: Ashburn teams playing for state titles.
Saturday, Dec. 8, fans all across Ashburn will have reason to cheer when the Stone Bridge Bulldogs and the Briar Woods Falcons attempt to add to their trophy cases. Stone Bridge face the Lake Taylor Titans, of Norfolk, for the AAA Division 5 crown, while two-time defending state champ Briar Woods aims for a third straight AA Division 4 title against Lynchburg’s Heritage Pioneers.
Here’s a guide to this weekend’s action. Check back for coverage on Ashburn Patch.
Stone Bridge (14-0) vs. Lake Tayor (14-0)
12:07 p.m., Dec. 8, University of Virginia, Scott Stadium
Can't make it to Charlottesville? The game will be televised on Comcast Sportsnet CSN Plus Channel as well as ESPN 3 (internet- www.espn3.com). Sean Farrell will also be tweeting live from the game @locosportsbeat.
The University of Virginia's Scott Stadium will serve as the battleground for yet another state final pitting the champs of the Northern and Eastern regions against each other, perhaps Virginia's most heralded and dominant hubs of high school football prowess. Stone Bridge has represented the Northern Region in four of the last seven title games, coming away with a championship trophy in 2007. During that same span, the Eastern Region filled out the other half of the finals bracket in six of seven years. Although Lake Taylor will make its first appearance representing the region in that span, the Titans certainly made a statement when they knocked off longtime Stone Bridge nemesis and four-time defending state champ Phoebus 54-0 in the regional final.
But after the shocking win over Phoebus, the Titans needed a last second field goal to overcome North Stafford 23-21 in the state semifinal. Lake Taylor enters the game sporting an attacking defense that has been described as bringing "controlled chaos." In four playoff games, the Titans gave up just 28 points, 21 from North Stafford game alone. Eastern District co-player of the year Jamel Spellman, a linebacker, leades the defense along with defensive linemen Brandon Lynch and Nyquan "Big Money" Harris. Harris has scholarship offers from schools such as Alabama, Michigan, and Clemson.
On offense, Eastern District Player of the Year Brandon Moore leads the Titans. Moore has 1,800 yards and 24 touchdowns rushing this season. Quarterback Delvon Williams has run the Titans veer attack to near perfection, passing for nearly 1,900 yards and 33 touchdowns and just two interceptions.
The Bulldogs enter the game on the heels of their own closer-than-expected 28-21 win over the Hanover Hawks. Lead rusher Sterling Daily heads up the Bulldog offense, amassing nearly 1,500 yards on his way to 21 touchdowns. Stanford-bound quarterback Ryan Burns set a school record this year with 2,423 passing yards and 28 touchdowns. Burns’ favorite target has been D'Antre Yarborough, who hauled in 40 receptions for close 1,100 yards and 14 touchdowns. Jonathan Allen – the dominating defensive end and Gatorade Virginia Player of the Year who will play for Alabama next year – unquestionably leads the Bulldog defense.
Prediction: Stone Bridge coach Mickey Thompson rolled out his vaunted "heavy" rushing package last week to help the Bulldogs ground out a win over Hanover. Expect the Bulldogs to do more of the same against Lake Taylor, with the goal of controlling possession and neutralizing some of Lake Taylor’s potentially dominating speed. The Bulldogs game plan should work in a hard fought game.
Stone Bridge 17 Lake Taylor 14.
Briar Woods (14-0) vs. Heritage (12-1)
4:30 p.m., Dec. 8, Liberty University, Williams Stadium
Can't make it to Lynchburg? The game will stream live online at www.vhslnetwork.com, and @locosportsbeat will receive and tweet updates.
The Briar Woods Falcons hope to carry an undefeated season through to the end as they prepare to face the Heritage Pioneers of Lynchburg. Heritage knocked off previously unbeaten Salem 24-16 to advance to the state final. The Pioneers feature a spread offensive attack, with quarterback JeVontae Parrish leading the charge. The versatile quarterback is dangerous running and passing, eclipsing the 2,200-yard mark in the air with 27 touchdowns, while rushing for more than 1,400 yards and 18 touchdowns. Receiver I'Shantii Rosser leads the team with nearly 800 yards and three touchdowns.
The Falcons have won 28 games in a row, and continue to be powered by a balanced and high-powered offense and stifling defense. Quarterback Trace McSorley – a junior who won state titles each of his first two years – leads the team with more than 3,000 yards of total offense. McSorley's favorite target, Cam Serigne, has more than 900 yards receiving and nine touchdowns this year, while Cory Colder has piled up nearly 1,200 rushing yards.
On defense, even without All-American linebacker Matt Rolin – who tore his ACL earlier this season – the Falcons have given up an average of just nine points per game during the playoffs. Eight defensive players have recorded at least 40 tackles. Trei Germany leads a dominating defensive front with 5.5 sacks and 11.5 tackles for losses. Serigne has proven to be a force on both sides of the ball, with four sacks and 8.5 tackles for losses.
Prediction: Briar Woods has been the class act of AA football – and maybe any division in the state – the past two years. While Heritage is a talented team that should provide the Falcons their toughest test to date, defense wins championships and the Falcons have plenty of it.
Briar Woods 24 Heritage 10.
Good luck Falcons and Bulldogs!