High School

South County claims Virginia Patriot District title with win over Lake Braddock

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NBC Sports Washington

South County claims Virginia Patriot District title with win over Lake Braddock

South County defeated Lake Braddock Friday night claiming the Virginia Patriot District championship. The final was 40-29, but the game was not as close as the score may indicate.

Using pace and physicality the Stallions imposed their will upon the Bruins early. SoCo drove the ball the distance of the field on their first possession, taking a 7-0 lead on a Zion Dayne two-yard touchdown run. After stopping the Bruins deep in their own territory, the Stallions blocked Braddock’s punt, setting up a short field and another Dayne TD plunge.

The Yale commit set the tone on both sides of the ball. He would finish the day with three touchdowns and three sacks.

“It’s all thanks to my teammates, my blocking was amazing,” Dayne said. “Everybody played amazing, it’s not just me, it’s my whole team”.

SoCo went up 21-0 went quarterback Matt Dzierski found Brock Spalding for their first of two touchdown connections. The Stallions opened their playbook late in the second quarter and Keshawn Toran ran a fake punt 55 yards to the end zone, making it 28-0 at the half.

“We knew they could create mismatches, so the more we could jump on them early, the less chance they’d have to reel it back,” said South County head coach Gerry Pannoni.

Historically known for their offense, it was South County’s defense that ignited the fast start. Dayne and defensive end Horace Kahn hurried and hit Braddock’s quarterback Billy Edwards relentlessly, rarely giving him time to get the ball in the hands of his playmakers. SoCo’s front seven was also able to smother Bruin’s running back Joe Murray, who entered the game as one of the leading rushers in the district.

“Everybody on the defense played lights out. We put seven in the box and hammered him all night,” said Dayne.

Lake Braddock’s offense woke up in the second half as Billy Edwards threw four touchdown passes, but each time the Bruins came close to making it a game, SoCo would come up with another big play, many from the arm of Dzierski.

The Stallions are clicking on all cylinders with the playoffs around the corner.

“It didn’t start tonight, it started in the offseason. We’ve been putting in work to make sure we’re on the same page,” Dzierski said. “Our ultimate goal is to win a state championship”.

South County hosts Falls Church (6-4) next week in the final game of the regular season

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Two of Maryland's finest - Wise and Northwest - clash in the Maryland 4A Championship

Two of Maryland's finest - Wise and Northwest - clash in the Maryland 4A Championship

Wise and Northwest enter Friday’s championship game as two of the most successful Maryland public schools in recent years. They’ve combined to win six of the last seven Maryland 4A championships and on Friday they will meet to determine who wins the last of the decade.

In 2019 the Jags and Pumas successfully navigated through the 4A division, and although they’ve reached the same point, they’ve taken vastly different paths to get here.

Like a shiny new sports car, Wise (13-0) has zoomed past their competition, winning by an average margin of 42 points per game. Not only did they cruise through the regular season, but the Pumas have pounced on their last two playoff opponents, notching victories of 35-6 and 44-0, respectively. Wise is undefeated and for the most part unchallenged, which has caused some to question if Northwest (12-1) is the more battle-tested of the two teams,

“I don’t buy into that,” Wise coach Dalawn Parrish said. “We prepare situationally in practice. If you make your practice hellacious enough then your kids will be prepared for certain situations. We play the same teams we play every year. [Northwest] play teams from Montgomery County, we play teams from [Prince George].”

To the Pumas' credit, their strength schedule, or lack thereof did not seem to hinder them in previous campaigns. They’d won the Maryland state championship three years in a row before seeing that streak snapped last season. They’ve used that defeat as a driving force to get back to this point.

“Last year we lost to Quince Orchard in the semi-finals and that hurt— that hurt us bad,” Parrish said. “Our kids set out on a mission to make sure they’d never feel that way again. They committed to one another over the summer — working out, lifting weights, running and being together. This team has turned into a true family and they’re committed to sacrificing themselves to win”.

If the Pumas are an untouched two-seater, the Jags are more akin to an armored truck. At times they’ve been beaten, bruised and even fallen under attack, but through it all, they’ve been seemingly indestructible. They’ve had their share of blowouts, but they’ve also won close games, they’ve won with their defense, they’ve even tasted defeat, only to come back and exact revenge. The Jags have proven to be a team who can find a way to win no matter the situation, a quality Mike Neubeiser attributes to Northwest’s leadership and his student-athletes' commitment to the program.

“The kids really in with a new level of dedication this summer,” Neubiser, “We added two new coaches, Chris Samuels on offense and Bucky Clipper on defense. Together we developed a really sound system and the kids have been willing to work hard to win”.

Few outside of the Jags locker room expected Northwest to defeat Quince Orchard last week and potentially even less have picked them versus Wise. The slights don’t bother the Jags though, in fact they’ve used the them as gas for their championship run.

“Its motivation for our kids,” Neubeiser said. “For anyone to say, ‘you're not as good as the opponent’, it kind of motivates you—makes you want to prove that you are. Being the underdog again this week, where everyone says Wise is the ‘unbeatable team’ is motivating in itself. Not too many people are counting on us to win and I think that helps fuel the fire”.

If Wise is the favorite, they’ve gotten here by placing the goals of the team over any individual accolades. Despite having top-end recruits such as Jalil Farooq and Dorian Strong, the Pumas pride themselves on their ability to spread the ball around,

“We don’t have anybody with 1,000 rushing yards. We don’t have anybody with 1,000 receiving yards," Parrish said. “But what we do have is a collective of 2,200 rushing yards and a collective of 1,800 receiving yards. We are committed to sacrificing ourselves in order to achieve the goal of winning a championship.”

Northwest knows they don’t want to get into a shootout with the Pumas. Their plan for coming away victorious rests on their defense's ability to slow the Pumas attack.

“They are absolutely loaded [on offense],” Neubeiser said. “They do like to throw the ball around, but to beat them, you have to stop the run game. For us its about being fundamentally sound. Trying to get a rush and trying to get the quarterback a little uncomfortable. We have to establish the run ourselves to keep their offense off the field.”

The flash of the Pumas versus the grit of the Jags— two great programs with two very different styles. On Friday night, only one will walk away as the Maryland 4A champion.

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Tuscarora gets revenge on Broad Run, advance in Virginia 4A playoffs

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NBC Sports Washington

Tuscarora gets revenge on Broad Run, advance in Virginia 4A playoffs

Tuscarora served a dish of revenge to Broad Run on Friday afternoon.  The Huskies fed it cold in a commanding victory en route to eliminating the Spartans from the Virginia 4A playoffs.

The Huskies beat the stuffing out of the homesteading Broad Run, winning by a final score of 30-7 in their day-after-Thanksgiving playoff match-up. The loss was Broad Run’s first at home in over a year. Earlier this season Broad Run narrowly escaped with a two-point victory in Week 1. Tusky has been waiting for this moment ever since.

“I've been looking forward to this game for 13 weeks. Everyone on this team has,”  senior quarterback Ethan Gick said. “ We didn’t want to compete anywhere else in week 13. Having the opportunity to play them again fueled our whole season. We’ve been focused on one team and one team only, that’s Broad Run."

Gick threw four touchdown passes. He and the Tuscarora offense had its’ way with the Spartans defense. They created favorable match-ups and took advantage of Broad Run's man-to-man coverage while marching the ball up-and-down the field when necessary.

Tusky opened the scoring midway through the first quarter when Gick connected with Jevonn Gilyard who had gotten behind his defender. Gick threw his first of two TD passes to Ryan Upp with just over three minutes remaining in the second quarter and found running back Bryce Duke streaking down the seam for a score seconds before the half.

“We just knew all of our match-ups [would be an issue for them]” Gick said. “Jevonn (Gilyard) is un-guardable, Ryan (Upp) is un-guardable. They always had to account for everyone on the field and we knew they wouldn’t be able to.”

The Huskies were the more physical team from start-to-finish. Fueled by recent history, they were determined to show who was more deserving to represent the region.

“I’ve been waiting for this for two years,” defensive end Matei Fitz said. “We’ve lost to them three times and man it just feels good to come out on top."

Fitz and linebacker Rainer Halveland helped Tuscarora equally dominate on the defensive side of the ball. As a unit, they forced three turnovers and held a Broad Run, a team that came in averaging 40 points per game to only seven.

Tusky’s front seven won the battle of the trenches making it difficult for the Spartans to have any consistency in their running game and when quarterback Mitch Griffis dropped back to pass, he was hit routinely and eventually forced out of the game due to injury.

The victory is Tuscarora’s 12th in a row. They advance to the state semi-final where they will face Salem.

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