Ashburn, Va. (October 13, 2016) — With each tick of the clock bringing Friday’s 7:00 p.m. kickoff closer and closer, I’m not sure how much schoolwork is getting done in the hallowed halls of Ashburn’s two oldest secondary education institutions.
It’s time we learned what’s what on the football field this year – and our Viva Loudoun TopTicket Of The Week will be one awesome visual aid.
Class will be held inside L.F. Jennings Stadium, home of the Spartans of Broad Run High School, with special guest instructors the Bulldogs of Stone Bridge High School. Arrive early, get a good seat and settle in. There will be a test.
For the high school football fans of Loudoun, the Battle Of The ‘Burn is perhaps the most eagerly awaited showdown on the autumn calendar. Two schools whose jurisdictions abut right up against each other, whose kids grew up together in the Ashburn Youth Football League, whose coaches and parents know each other quite well and whose sports teams fight it out all school-year long.
Get your tickets in advance, and get parked early. The
place’ll be packed.
The pack of Bulldogs has emerged victorious in the last three meetings, including last year’s 25-point playoff victory over the Spartans – a measure of revenge for Broad Run knocking the Bulldogs out of the 2013 postseason dance.
None of that matters, of course. Different years bring different rosters and different leaders with the high school cycle. But one thing’s the same: These two teams are (again) very good. Statistically, these are the two stingiest defenses in the 5A North region – Broad Run’s given up 74 points, Stone Bridge’s allowed 75 – but the offenses don’t slouch either.
The Spartans (4-2, 79.7 powerpoints for 5th in 5A North) have been firing on all cylinders since a 12-point setback to Centreville. Broad Run has outscored Briar Woods and Wakefield 65-28 in its last two, thanks in large part to a certain senior who’s hard to handle.
Check Webster’s for the phrase “featured running back” and Meech Hembry will be among the synonyms. His combo of speed and power has produced 1,252 yards, often as the only man lined up in the Broad Run backfield. To see him carry the ball 30 or 40 times is not a strange sight, but to see him fumble it would be.
When Spartans head coach Matt Griffis does put a quarterback in there, it’s usually the rapidly developing freshman Mitch Griffis, a throwing threat who can run it too. Senior Travis Hugg and his fellow wideouts will need to be reliable blockers when not turning to find a pass.
Freshman backup back Tim Baldwin could get his first ‘Burn Battle experience too. Senior co-captain Brandon Gonzalez spearheads the Spartan defense from his linebacker spot.
Stone Bridge (5-1, 96.0 powerpoints for 2nd in 5A North) is back, baby. Really, they never left. Save for the first few games of last season (when the Bulldogs were without their college-bound quarterback), the Bulldogs have been the undisputed standard-bearer for high school football in Loudoun since the turn of the new millennium. A year ago the program earned its sixth trip to the state championship game since 2005.
For the Bulldogs, senior running back Joshua Breece is the exact same kind of threat that Hembry is for the Spartans. He’s a big, shifty, hard-to-tackle back who can also rear back and throw out of head coach Mickey Thompson‘s famed single-wing alignment.
He’s capably spelled by junior Bradley Block, who also plays prominently on defense. Senior defensive back Dohnavyn Jefferson and junior linebacker Joe Nameth comprise an experienced core to limit yards and prevent points.
Stone Bridge’s only defeat came early on, in a four-point loss to Madison. In four outings since, the Bulldogs dismantled Chantilly, Westfield (!), West Springfield and Robinson – each a larger, Group 6A school – by a combined 157-56. Indeed, in the 5A North region, only Briar Woods has played tougher schedule according to VHSL-Reference.com (www.vhsl-reference.com/master_wl_allyears_new_regions.cfm?region=5A+North&submit2=Go).
(It’s interesting to note [channeling the legendary Vin Scully] that, in those 5A North powerpoint standings, Potomac Falls is 3rd, Tuscarora is 6th and Briar Woods is 9th. That’s the entire Potomac District in the Top 10, here in Week 8. Loudoun football is ruling.)
The wait is over; the Battle Of The ‘Burn is here. Know about every thrust and parry by following along with our live-tweeting @VivaLoudoun.
VivaLoudoun: We Live For Loudoun™
Written by Jason S Rufner
for Viva Loudoun Media Communications