First Down: Broad Run Spartans
With training camp now well underway, we're all anxious to see which teams could contend for district titles and who might surprise some teams in the upcoming season. Over the next few weeks I'll be previewing each of the Dulles District teams with a feature I'm calling "First Down." I'll just do some quick hits with stats and key losses and returning players and tell you what I'll be watching in each team's training camp.
Feel free to contribute any inside information, share notes about up-and-comers from the junior varsity squad or tell my I'm crazy for thinking a certain player is in the running for one starting job or another. As the coaches let on at media day, there are lots of unknowns heading into camp. So feel free to speculate, ruminate and debate any and all football topics here at the Extra Points blog.
Our tour of the Dulles District concludes with the defending state champions...
BROAD RUN SPARTANS
Coach: Mike Burnett, fourth year
Last Year: 14-0 (7-0 Dulles District)
After a program-defining 14-0 season capped with the school's first ever state title, Broad Run returns with a loaded roster and enough experience to make another deep run into the playoffs. Winners of 24 of their last 25 games, the Spartans steamrolled the Dulles District last season and marched through the playoffs behind a powerful running attack and a stout defense. Despite the loss of several key players on both sides of the ball, they return some of the top playmakers in the league and have enough guys with big-game experience on offense and defense to carry over their success from last season.
But it won't be easy for this group to repeat last season's success, not with a fresh face at quarterback and several part-time players taking on much larger roles. As the defending state champs they've got the biggest target possible on their backs. The question is, how will they handle everyone's best shot in 2009?
Returning Starters: 4 (7 full and part-time starters)
Overall: 35 points per game
Passing: 85-188, 1,393 yds, 17 TDs, 4 INTs
Rushing: 453 carries, 3,049 yds, 44 TDs
Kicking: 49-57 XP, 9 FGs
RB Breon Earl, QB Chris Jessop, OG Nick Galzerano, C Shawn Lewis, PK Graham Allen, OT Will Field, TE Kevin Sandersen, FB Kenny McAdow
RB T.J. Peeler (Sr) - 129 carries, 1,145 yds, 17 TDs; 1 rec., 6 yds
Despite missing three games last season, Peeler still finished 22nd in the DC Metro area in rushing yardage and had the third best yards per carry average of anyone with at least 125 carries at 8.88. Bigger and stronger heading into his senior year and now a future Pitt Panther, many coaches in the area expect Peeler to explode in the featured back role. He was huge in the Spartans' run through the playoffs, averaging 94.5 yards and scoring five times in four playoff games. The only question mark with Peeler will be his health and his ability to deal with the increased workload. But assuming the Spartans give him the occassional breather, Peeler should have a huge senior campaign.
WR Adrian Flemming (Sr) - 31 rec., 659 yds, 8 TDs
Numerous times last season, Coach Mike Burnett would confess following a game that he wish he'd used his stud wide receiver more. The numbers, while solid and enough to land him on the All-District team, reflected a reliance on a highly productive ground game. But Flemming was patient and waited for his chances - like in the state final when he hauled in a touchdown catch and a big first down conversion late. This year it's the big fellas turn to stuff the stat sheet and fill up the highlight reel. His size and athleticism make him perhaps the most difficult wideout to defend in the Dulles District. Flemming should be in line for a career season.
WR David Weaver (Sr) - 14 rec., 219 yds, 3 TDs; 8 carries, 36 yds
Weaver emerged as a veritable utility knife for the Spartans' offense last season. With so many talented skill players already entrenched in their positions, Weaver was content to wait for opportunities to come his way, and when they did, he produced. Whether it was catching passes over the middle, running end arounds or picking off passes on defense, he showcased his full arsenal of skills. Originally in the running for the starting quarterback job, expect to see Weaver get many more touches this season in the passing game. If opposing defenses are too busy concentrating on Peeler and Flemming, they are liable to get burned by this quiet assassin.
OT Taylor Evans (Sr)
A first-team All-District selection last season, Evans is one of the few returning starters on an offensive line that helped produce more than 3,000 yards of rushing offense. Everything started in the trenches for the Spartans last season and Evans was one of those scrappy, hard-working guys who could run and pass block against the best lines in the district. Now a senior, he'll need to become a leader on this unit for the line to be as productive as it was in his junior campaign.
Position Battles to Watch
RB - Peeler is the most highly touted running back in the league - and perhaps one of the top in the region - heading into this season. Last year he split the job with Breon Earl and both managed to co-exist and be quite productive. There's no question Peeler's carries go way up this season but who will be the compliment to his between-the-tackles, punishing running style? Peeler missed time with a wrist injury last season and you know Burnett wants to keep him fresh for another playoff run. So whether it's senior Joey Quigg (6 carries, 68 yds, TD), junior Andrew Choi (24-130), senior Farid Aliyev 33-122-1), junior Sean Magness 26-143) or a combination of those guys, someone needs to step up and fill the role of the change-of-pace back that can give Peeler a breather when he's gassed. It might also be a fresh face as Burnett mentioned sophomore Darrell Thomas as another potential combo back to pair with Peeler.
QB - With all the talented skill players in this offense, the question remains, who will run it? Burnett said he'll probably go with multiple guys under center - as he did in 2007 with Jessop and Cole Shain. The candidates are senior Ethan Miller (last year's JV QB), 6-4, 200-pound junior Eddie Barnes, and sophomores Connor Jessop (6-3) and Jack Sistaire (6-4). Miller has the experience and the early edge over the rest but look for two guys to emerge as the starting duo under center. Whoever it is won't be asked to do too much with Peeler behind him, but he will need to get the ball into the hands of Flemming, Weaver and Quigg to make plays downfield and keep defenses from stacking the box to stop Peeler.
PK - First-team all-district kicker Graham Allen was oft-overlooked in discussions of Broad Run's offensive and defensive dominance. But the stats alone didn't show what he did for the team. He was nearly automatic on extra points (48-56) and added an extra dimension with his leg strength on field goals (9) and kickoffs. Opposing offenses were routinely buried at their own 20 after Allen's bombs rolled out of the end zone. The Spartans will be hard-pressed to find someone with the consistency Allen displayed, but they need a replacement kicker who can help them win the field position battle - a key to their success last season.
Returning Starters: 3 (7)
Overall: 11.6 points allowed per game
Passing: 129-284, 1,457 yds, 8 TDs
Rushing: 455 carries, 1,466 yds, 14 TDs
LB Kenny McAdow, DE Shawn Lewis, S Breon Earl, CB Chris Jessop, P Tim Miscovich, DE Kevin Sandersen, LB Mickey Cotton, CB Didier Saidi
DL Frank Foreman (Sr)
One of only two juniors selected to All-District first team, Foreman was a key cog on Broad Run's supremely stout defensive line. That unit allowed a meager 3.2 yards per carry to opposing backs and the defense's dominance started up front. With most of the guys around him graduating, Foreman, like Evans, will need to step up and lead the inexperienced guys. He knows what it takes to play on one of the top lines in the state and his influence should prevent too much of a dropoff from last year's group.
OLB Adrian Flemming (Sr)
A 6-foot-4 receiver playing defensive back is almost unfair. He's got inches on just about every wideout in the league and has great hands to boot. Look for most quarterbacks to turn their head to the other side of the field when they see Flemming matching up against their No. 1.
CB Joey Quigg (Sr)
After splitting time with Jessop at corner last season, Quigg gets the full-time role in his senior season. He was great in coverage and should be just fine moving into a more central role in 2009.
Position Battles to Watch
From the sounds of it, most of the positions in Broad Run's defense are settled, so here's a breakdown of who will be where according to Burnett. Notice how many of them are seniors.
DL - Foreman, Evans, Anthony James (Sr), Alex Evans (Sr)
LB - Tyler Johnson (Sr), Johnny Meier (Sr)
OLB - Flemming, Peeler
Secondary - Weaver, Quigg, one spot to be filled.
8/28 - @ Fauquier
9/4 - vs. Heritage
9/11 - @ Jefferson (W.Va.)
9/17 - vs. Wilson
9/25 - vs. Park View
10/2 - vs. Briar Woods
10/9 - @ Dominion
10/16 - @ Freedom
10/24 - vs. Loudoun County
10/30 - @ Potomac Falls
Odds and Ends
- The number of returning starters on each side of the ball for the Spartans is a bit misleading. T.J. Peeler wasn't even the starting tailback on this team last season, if that's any indicator. While a team that graduated a multitude of All-District performers and 16 seniors might be expected to experience some recession to the mean a year after a perfect season, Broad Run has more than enough players returning from last year's squad,many of whom were part-time starters or role players. Those guys, along with the returning starters have tasted success and will push those around them to do what it takes to get back there.
- Even more important that replacing some of the bodies on both sides of the ball is replacing the emotional leadership of last year's captain, Kenny McAdow. Sure the linebacker was a beast in the middle and earned plenty of accolades, but his greatest contribution might have been off the field where he led the team in a prayer before every game and developed as a firey leader for the Spartans. On the offensive side, center Shawn Lewis was just as vocal and inspirational for his group. Peeler and Flemming are relatively soft-spoken guys and it could be a challenge for an inexperienced quarterback to become a vocal leader from the outset. So who will be the guy - or the group of guys - to step in and fill the void left by McAdow and Lewis. Burnett singled out three-year players Meier, Taylor Evans, David Weaver and Joey Quigg as prospects, but one or more of those guys needs to actually step up and assume the mantle.
- "We're very excited about the kids we have back. Talent-wise, we look like we'll be pretty good. The big question is character. The kids we lost were some of the great character kids you'll ever have. So the big question for us this year is going to be how we fill that role of leadership on our team."
- "On the offensive side you lose Chris Jessop who was another great leader. Somebody's got to fill those shoes. You lose Breon, who makes all the plays, but sometimes playmakers tend to step up. Leaders have to evolve, and that's what we'll have to see."
- "Other people set expectations and we live by our own. If you set your expectations high enough, everybody else's kind of pale in comparison." - Coach Burnett
And for your discussion topics...
Last season the Spartans rushed for a whopping 44 touchdowns with Earl and Peeler combining for 36 of those to tie for 21st in the D.C. region in total touchdowns. Now that Earl is gone and Peeler is the feature back, how many times will he reach the end zone in 2009? (Keep in mind he missed three games last season and only had 129 carries).
August 24, 2009; 3:43 PM ET
Categories: Broad Run High School , Dulles District , Football , High School Sports | Tags: Broad Run High School, Dulles District, Football
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