When it comes to Northern Virginia rivalries, not many match the intensity, emotion or ferocity associated with the storied history of Lake Braddock vs. South County.
No.12 South County travels to No. 18 Braddock on Friday night to write their latest chapter.
In 2018 the Stallions defeated the Bruins at home in consecutive weeks. They won 16-14 in the final game of the regular season, then defeated Lake Braddock again, 15-9, eliminating them from the playoffs the following. Friday’s game though will be played at Lake Braddock, before a sea of raucous Bruins fans decked out in Purple and Gold.
At 8-1, Braddock has been impressive this season — their only loss coming at the hands of the perennial powerhouse, Westfield. Led by quarterback Billy Edwards, the Bruins offense has been potent, averaging over 470 yards from scrimmage and 43 points per game.
“I think the key to our success is our running back Joe Murray,” said Billy Edwards. “We’ve had a consistent running game all year and it’s because of him and our offensive line. They set the tone upfront which helps the pass game open up and get our offense into a groove”.
That groove has been nearly impossible to stop. In 9 games, Murray has rushed for 1398 yards and 22 touchdowns. He has topped the century mark 8 times and averages 7.7 yards per carry.
Edwards is completing 63 percent of his passes with 24 touchdowns against just five interceptions. Braddock believes in spreading the ball around as they have 3 receivers with over 20 catches and at least 400 yards in Maxwell James, William Sydes and Matthew Hibner. The Bruins are a juggernaut.
“Our defensive coordinator, Coach G, installs really strong game plans each week, and he has again this week,” said South County defensive end Zion Dayne. “ By focusing on details and making sure our defense is all playing at the same level, mentally and physically, we will continue to dominate”.
SoCo has reason to be confident. The Stallions defense has held six of nine opponents to single digits, including two shut-outs. On offense they’ve been equally explosive, registering over 40 points in 6 contests.
“Our quarterback, Matty Ice and wide receiver Brock Spalding are an insane duo,” Dayne said. “Matt’s ability to get the ball to Brock and Brock’s ability to catch almost anything is nearly unstoppable”.
Zion, son of Heisman Trophy winner Ron Dayne, has been a key cog in the Stallions offense as well. His versatility has been on display albeit running the ball, catching it out of the backfield or even on occasion, throwing a TD pass.
“Our offensive coordinator, coach Magaha, has put a lot of trust in me this year and I have been able to prove myself”.
This season, the South County squad has regained a swagger that’s been missing in recent years. Despite defeating Braddock twice in 2018, they finished with a final record of 7-5. In 2017, they were 5-6. With a win on Friday night, SoCo will secure their first 10-win season since 2015.
“Everyone working towards one big goal has been key for us”, said Dayne, “Everyone set their mind to winning states at the beginning of the year and now that we’ve gotten going, the entire team and community has bought in.”
Though undefeated, SoCo has not faced a foe as formidable as Braddock. The Bruins believe their 41-34 loss to Westfield will help them this week. They plan to use that big game experience as an advantage against the Stallions,
“We haven’t played a team this physical and athletic since Westfield. We plan to come out swinging and just play our game,” said Edwards.