What other games are “must see” that didn’t make the list?
’s a short list of games you won’t want to miss this fall
by Andy Hilton, recruitNoVA
The VHSL schedule just came out a couple of days ago and we want to take the opportunity to highlight as many top games as we can so that you can mark your calendar.
We’re bound to miss a few. We’re going to include the obvious ones and we might leave off some that you think should be included. Half of Westfield’s games might be called rivalry games considering that the Bulldogs have won the Class 6 State Championship three years in a row. Every team has Westfield circled on their schedule.
The same could be said for most of the teams who have a habit of winning a lot.
So, here we go. These are the games you won’t want to miss on this fall’s VHSL schedule for the 703 region. We’re splitting up Northern Virginia and providing a second article that will focus on the 540 region/southern section of our NoVA coverage. That region includes Stafford and Fredericksburg, south to the Richmond metro.
Westfield at Lake Braddock (8/24/18)
Westfield doesn’t get an easy opener as they hit the road in the defense of their third consecutive Class 6 state title. In their state championship season of 2015, Westfield met Lake Braddock in the playoffs and dismantled them by a score of 31-7. Last year, in the season opener, Westfield prevailed by a score of 28-10. This out-of-district game hasn’t been too good for the Bruins. Lake Braddock has lost three in a row and hasn’t beaten the Bulldogs since the 2014 regular season when they managed a 36-23 win in the fourth game of that season. Westfield avenged that loss with a playoff win against the Bruins later that season. Lake Braddock’s 12-game season in 2017 was the shortest season in the past five years. From 2013-2016, Lake Braddock lost in their 13th game of the season.
Broad Run at Tuscarora (8/31/18)
Broad Run has to consider themselves title contenders once again this year. The Spartans won back-to-back state titles in 2008 and 2009, and have been contenders almost every year since. They’ve averaged nine wins every season for the past five years, but have fallen short of the state championship game every season. In 2017, the Spartans dusted Tuscarora 28-12 in week two, but couldn’t break through in the second round of the playoffs, losing 14-12. In 2016, Broad Run had the Huskies’ number, beating them in the season finale and then turning around and topping them again in the first round of the playoffs. Coach Matt Griffis has his son back for his junior season at quarterback. Mitch Griffis committed to play his college ball for Wake Forest over the summer.
John Champe at Centreville (8/31/18)
Both of these teams are now relegated to being teams “on the cusp”. Centreville went 15-0 in a state championship season in 2013. John Champe is close to averaging eight wins a season in the past four years. Because of a four-win season in 2015, Centreville’s win per season average isn’t much better. Both teams come into the 2018 season with something to prove. In 2017, Centreville won easily by a score of 35-21. Last year’s game was the first ever game between the two programs. A win here is a step in the right direction for the victor.
C.D. Hylton at Colonial Forge (9/14/2018)
Colonial Forge is the 540 area code, but that doesn’t keep this from being a great rivalry. Bill Brown is no longer the head coach at Forge as his son John Brown steps in. Bill is still on the staff and he was a long time coach at Hylton. Last year, the Bulldogs and Eagles went toe to toe in a game that went into overtime. Kicker Jadon Redding put the Eagles ahead with a field goal, and the Eagles defense stuffed three Ricky Slade rushing attempts, then blocked a field goal in order to pull out a 37-34 road win. You can bet Hylton will bring the house in this fall’s rematch. Colonial Forge won 13 straight in 2017 before falling in the state semifinal to Oscar Smith.
South Lakes at Centreville (9/21/18)
South Lakes would have had a perfect regular season record in 2017 if it weren’t for Centreville. The Wildcats are always a problem for the Seahawks. In the last nine meetings, Centreville has won eight times. The 2017 game was a 31-13 win for Centreville. The 2016 playoffs provided the only recent win for South Lakes, and that was a 22-20 nail biter. South Lakes is 23-4 over the past two seasons. The Centreville game will be a measuring stick for both programs. Centreville is working to get back to the State Championship game for the first time since 2014.
C.D. Hylton at Freedom (PW) (9/28/18)
Prince William County is loaded with talented football teams. Hylton had a hangover from their overtime loss to Colonial Forge in the week prior to this match up last year. Freedom managed to knock the Bulldogs on their heels enough to pull out a 48-42 win in the 2017 regular season. C.D. Hylton got payback in the playoffs and ended Freedom’s perfect season with a decisive 45-28 win. In the second game of the playoffs. Ricky Slade is gone, but the cupboard isn’t bare at Hylton. Freedom comes into the season with plenty of firepower as well.
Westfield at Patriot (9/28/18)
The Patriot Pioneers could argue that a State Championship might have been theirs in 2017 if it weren’t for Westfield. Patriot is one of the teams that will certainly see a target on the chest of the Bulldogs. Mid-season in 2017, Westfield downed Patriot by a score of 46-33. Westfield had their number in the playoffs as well, winning that game 35-6 to end the Pioneers’ season. Colonial Forge beat Patriot in the 2017 season opener, but it was Westfield that did them in. Patriot improved from a 7-4 record in 2016 to 9-3 in 2017. Another step forward could put them closer to the Class 6 State Championship game, but Westfield would most certainly be in the way. Patriot High School opened in 2012 and has only played Westfield twice. Both games came last year and both were losses.
Freedom (PW) at Woodbridge (10/12/18)
Both teams went deep into the playoffs in 2017. Woodbridge lost in the state semifinal to Westfield and finished the season 12-2. Their only other loss was to Freedom, and that was a 41-14 thumping that was uncharacteristic of the Vikings’ season. Freedom reeled off 11 straight wins in 2017 and saw that perfect record come to a halt when Hylton knocked them off in the second round of the Class 6 playoffs. Both Freedom and Woodbridge fell short in 2017 considering that Westfield navigated the playoff minefield that they couldn’t.
Tuscarora at Stone Bridge (10/19/18)
These two Class 5 powers are consistently butting heads. In 2018, the Huskies knocked Stone Bridge out of the playoffs with a gut-wrenching 28-27 win in the Region Final. That win avenged a 14-13 regular season win by Stone Bridge. In 2016, Tuscarora was down and was easily beaten by the Bulldogs, but in 2015, the two teams traded the favor again. Few current players on either team were involved in the 2015 battles, but in that year, Tuscarora won the regular season meeting 42-19, only to be knocked off in the playoffs in a shootout, 54-41. Tuscarora made it all the way to the state title game in 2017, and this year it will be up to former assistant coach Brandon Wheelbarger to lead them to the promised land for a second year in a row. These two Potomac District teams seem destined to play each other twice again this year.
Stone Bridge at Broad Run (11/2/18)
If everything falls into place, both of these teams could be undefeated heading into this season finale. That’s how it was in 2017. Broad Run was 9-0 last year and lost this one by a score of 21-13. Stone Bridge kept their undefeated regular season, only to lose to Tuscarora in the playoffs. Stone Bridge will rely on Army commit Nick Mell and QB Mason Tatum as returning seniors to lead them after losing a significant group of senior leaders that included Jack Kosko (Notre Dame College), Bradley Block (Glenville State), Joey Nameth (William and Mary) and Daniel Thompson (Towson).
– Andy Hilton