WASHINGTON - We are midway through the DMV high school football season and the Friday Night Lights are beginning to heat up.
Each week, FOX 5's Chad Ricardo will select a number of games across the region to showcase Sunday nights at 11:30 p.m. on In The Sports. Here are the questions that need to be answered heading into this week’s primetime match-ups.
Forest Park at No. 2 Freedom
The (3-2) Forest Park Bruins are visiting the (3-0) Freedom Eagles in a Woodbridge backyard battle. After dropping their first two games, the Bruins have responded by winning three in a row, including shutouts of Potomac Senior and Gwynn Park. In order to continue their win streak though, they’ll need to find a way to cool off the Eagles, arguably the hottest team in the DMV.
To say Freedom has been dominant would be an understatement of massive proportions. The Eagles put up 60 last week while handing Gar-field a bagel in exchange. Their high-powered attack has scored at least 35 in each of their contests this season.
Speaking to their offensive prowess, senior quarterback Tristan Evans said, "the key to our offensive success has been us preparing and focusing on the little things and that has led to our big plays."
"We all have the same mindset and try to be perfect in everything we do," said Evans.
Perfection may not be possible, but Freedom appears to be the closest thing to it. Will Forest Park find a way to clip the Eagles wings?
No. 17 South County at No. 6 Madison
The (4-1) South County Stallions will stampede into Vienna Friday night for a Northern Virginia showdown with the (5-0) Madison Warhawks.
For Madison, the back-to-back Virginia 6A state championship runner-ups, 2023 has been business as usual. Their hard-nosed style of play has bludgeoned opponents into submission. They are physical at the point of attack and that has already led them to victories over potential title contenders, Stone Bridge and Lake Braddock. Though they can put up points in bunches, their calling card is their ‘Dark Side’ defense, a unit yet to allow over two scores in any game.
That said, if the Warhawks' defense is the proverbial ‘sledgehammer’, the Stallions ‘O’ is the surgeon. Over the last two games, South County has operated, scoring atleast 50 in each, and that has armed them with a bit of bravado heading into big time ball game.
"No doubt Madison is a well-coached team, but I’m confident that me and my guys will get the job done", said senior quarterback, Jordan Dennis. "We got athletes, we work hard and our coaches do a great job to coach us up every day."
The Stallions have been equally impressive on defense, holding four of five opponents under ten points. Will it be enough to upset mighty Madison?
No. 13 Friendship at No. 24 Gonzaga
It is rare for a non WCAC capital opponent to walk onto I street as a favorite, but that may very well be the case Friday night when the (4-1) Friendship Knights enter the arena.
Friendship has not only beaten their opponents, they’ve beaten them up. In their four victories, Coach Mike Hunter’s crew has been prolific on both sides of the ball, averaging 38 points per game, while holding their opposition to under seven per outing. Their only defeat came at the hands of the 9th ranked team in the country, St. John Bosco (Ca.) and accompanied a cross-country trip.
Though the Knights are perennial D.C. state Athletic Association championship contenders, what they have not been able to do is consistently knock off WCAC capital foes, going 1-7 in such match-ups over the span of the last four seasons, their lone victory was against Bishop McNamara last year.
According to Friendship senior quarterback, Brenton Toles, though, a victory over Gonzaga would signify the Knights are more than just a good D.C. team, rather they are one of the premiere programs in all of the DMV.
"We’re two big power houses with a lot of talent and we’re both in the city," Toles said. "I feel like this would definitely show us how good we are and also show everybody else why we’re the favorite to win the (DCSAA) championship again."
If the Knights are to ride into NW and get the ‘W,' it won’t be easy. Coach Randy Trivers and the Eagles are 4-1. Their defense has pitched two shut outs and senior quarterback, Aidan Conrath, has thrown eight touchdowns in the last two games.
The Eagles have looked excellent all season… except for a seemingly inexplicable, 35-29 loss at the hands of Loyola Blakefield.
Will Friendship take the next step and stamp themselves as ‘DMV elite’, or will Gonzaga remind us all that they are indeed WCAC royalty and September 15 was but a blip on the radar?
Find out the answer to all of these questions and more Sunday night at 11:30 p.m. on In The Sports.