Charlottesville, VA (October 24, 2016) – Loudoun County transplanted to Charlottesville on a chilly Saturday afternoon at Scott Stadium on the beautiful campus of the University of Virginia as they faced ACC foe, North Carolina. With six players from the county between the two squads, five for the Cavaliers and one for the Tar Heels, the Viva Loudoun crew was on hand on Oct. 22 to witness the action.
The visiting No. 22 Tar Heels (6-2, 4-1 ACC) prevailed easily over the Wahoos (2-5, 1-2 ACC) by a final of 35-14, putting the Heels in a great position for success in the ACC Coastal Division. UNC, donning their customary white with light blue trim, only led by seven at halftime but proved to be too much to handle by the end as they amassed 488 yards and five touchdowns on offense.
“UNC executed longer and more effectively than us,” said UVa Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall in the post-game press conference. “The game was really tight at halftime, and then they were able to sustain drives, execute when needed, recover from turnovers at a higher level than we were, and so, really, their program is, currently, more mature and farther along than ours is, and it was reflected as the game continued to go on.”
Matteo, a 2012 graduate of Broad Run, has started every game for the Wahoos over the past two seasons and has seen significant action each of the last four years, while Crawford, a 2015 graduate of Stone Bridge, is playing in his first full season for the Tar Heels after being granted a medical redshirt last year. Crawford added one tackle to his season total on Saturday and saw regular action throughout the game.
That afternoon in Scott Stadium in front of a sea of orange and royal blue, the former Spartan and former Bulldog lined up opposite one another for their new rival schools, keeping the tradition of the Battle of the Burn alive into one of the most competitive leagues in NCAA football, the ACC.
“So obviously, 92 [Aaron Crawford] is in there,” said Matteo about his counterpart, “he’s kind of their stout, 310 nose tackle […] Aaron Crawford is gonna’ be a great player, he’s really gonna’ be a great player, but as far as the rivalry goes, Ashburn, Broad Run, Stone Bridge, I’m just happy to be out there, happy to be playing the game I love against great young talent like Aaron Crawford, it was a pleasure.”
Crawford, 6-foot-1 and 310-pounds, was an All-Met honorable mention for Coach Mickey Thompson and Stone Bridge, and was rated the No. 26 prospect in the nation as a four-star recruit by Scout.com.
After competing in the opening two games last season for the Heels, Crawford suffered a knee injury forcing him to miss the rest of the season, but was granted a medical redshirt, giving him four more years of eligibility in Chapel Hill. Including Saturday’s contest against UVa, he now has 14 tackles through eight games this season, with 13 over his last five games.
Unlike this year’s version of the Battle of the Burn in Ashburn on Oct. 14 in which Broad Run defeated Stone Bridge 10-7, this time it was Crawford representing the Bulldogs who got the better of Matteo and the Spartans.
Matteo, 6-foot-5 and 290-pounds, was on each of Broad Run’s state championship teams in 2008 and 2009, was named all-district, all-region and all-state, and was First Team All-Met on offense as a senior for Coach Matt Griffis. He even played basketball for the Spartans as a senior.
“Ashburn is a special place for me,” Matteo said, “I love Broad Run because it was built in 1960, and I don’t know what it’s looking like now, but when I went there, there were trailers and holes in the ceilings and nothing to be really proud of except a football team.”
After redshirting as a freshman in Charlottesville, he played in all 12 games in 2013, played in the first five in 2014 before suffering an injury, and has started every contest since as the anchor of the offense.
“My preparation is always the same,” Matteo said, “it’s just being sure that my guys are in the best positions to be successful. So as a center, as a leader, as a captain, I want to make sure that I’m not only doing my job, but I can help guys out to do theirs at the highest level.”
One of his biggest attributes as a center is his durability, as he snapped the ball on every offensive play for the Cavaliers in 2015 except one.
“That’s something I really pride myself on, it’s just the way I take care of my body,” Matteo said, “but I also take pride in myself being one of the old school type of guys. I’m not gonna’ go out when I’m a little banged up, not gonna’ take a breather when I’m a little tired, just pushing through adversity, and I think my team has a pretty good chance to win when I’m in the game so I’m not gonna’ come out of the game.”
In total, UVa has five Loudoun County products on their roster, four of which hail from Ashburn. In addition to Matteo there are a pair of sophomore wide receivers in Braedon Urie, Woodgrove, and Dylan Le, Briar Woods, a freshman receiver in Chris Moore, Broad Run, and a freshman defensive back in Chuck Davis, Broad Run.
“I have never been a part of a tighter team in my career at the University of Virginia,” Matteo said. “So seeing Chuck Davis here, I really helped him get over here and build a future for himself. Chris Moore worked his way up here and I kind of took both of them under my wing, and the camaraderie here is just really special, to be in a locker room with two guys you grew up right down the street from, it’s just something that I couldn’t have drew up better.”
Despite the squad’s recent struggles, Matteo remains optimistic about future of the program in Charlottesville.
“This team and this program is going to be so successful,” Matteo said, “we don’t know when, it could be next week, it could be in three years, but this head coach and what they’re doing around here, it’s something I’ve never seen before and it’s gonna’ blow up in a major way.”
For the Tar Heels, Crawford was the one and only player representing the county, but pushed the total up to six Loudoun products on the field that day, five from Ashburn. Broad Run was well represented with three players, while Stone Bridge, Briar Woods and Woodgrove each had one.
Matteo and the Cavaliers return to action Oct. 29 as they host Heisman favorite Lamar Jackson and No. 7 Louisville (6-1), while Crawford and The Tar Heels hit the field again Nov. 5 as they host Georgia Tech (4-3).
Viva Loudoun: We Live For Loudoun™
Written by Josh Apple
Special to Viva Loudoun
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