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Game of the Week: Breakdown

Two of the top teams in the Dulles District tangle in Ashburn on Saturday while Stone Bridge looks to rebound from an unprecedented district loss Friday night at Langley. Heritage hosts yet another ranked team, Loudoun Valley gets a tough non-district test and two struggling young teams do battle in South Riding. It's a busy week with plenty of interesting matchups, so let's get right to the breakdown...

Game of the Week
Loudoun County (6-1) at No. 3 Broad Run (8-0), 1:30 - Saturday
The biggest matchup on the weekend bill by a long-shot, this one pits two of the top three teams in the Dulles against on another in a potential Region II semifinal or final preview. A year ago, the Raiders emerged out of the league cellar to reach the postseason with a win in their season finale. This year, the expectations were a repeat trip and then some in Leesburg, and a win over the defending AA Division 4 state champions would put the cherry on top of coach Todd Hill's three-year resurrection project.

Here's how things break down...

LC rushing offense vs. BR front seven
Leading rusher Adam Yesuf was banged up last week which opened the door for Kevin Fitts, who exploded for nearly 200 yards and two scores in a win over Dominion. The Spartans have arguably the biggest, most physical defensive line and linebacking corps in the district and contained DeAndre Reaves two weeks ago. Edge: Spartans

LC passing offense vs. BR secondary
Austin Campbell is the leading passer in Loudoun and has two of the top targets in the league in seniors Chase Williams and Michael Ayoub. Williams is a matchup nightmare and Ayoub has been tremendous of late, amassing 321 yards in the last three weeks. The Spartans have plenty of speed with David Weaver and Joey Quigg in the secondary, but both of the Raiders' primary targets have size, strength and great hands. Edge: Raiders

BR rushing offense vs. LC front seven
T.J. Peeler is at or near the top of pile in the area in just about every rushing category there is, and he rarely plays more than one series in the second half. Keeping their workhorse back fresh by spelling him with the increasingly reliable Justin Nelson (4 TDs in the last three games). This is a game where you may see a bit more of the future Pitt Panther, which could mean big numbers - the Raiders gave up 253 yards and two touchdowns to Reaves on Monday night. Chase Williams is a tackling machine, but if the Broad Run rushers continually break through the Loudoun County line, the linebackers will have their hands full. Edge: Spartans

BR passing offense vs. LC secondary
The Spartans haven't needed to go to the air much, salting away their wins early on and then resting their starters in the second half. But as soon as you forget about Adrian Flemming, David Weaver and Joey Quigg, they're going to burn you. Edge: Spartans

LC special teams vs. BR special teams
Senior kicker Calle Brown has one of strongest, most accurate legs in the league and the Raiders are not afraid to trot him out anywhere inside 50 yards. Ryan Donnelly has come on as a reliable option in the kicking game for Broad Run, but the team does not have a made field goal on the season. The Spartans had several returns for scores in their first few games, but their return game struggled with fumbles when I saw them two weeks ago against Dominion, which led to poor field position. Edge: Raiders

Three Keys for Loudoun County
1. Extend the opening drive - If they take the ball, the Raiders must burn some clock and get a couple first downs on their first possession. A quick three-and-out could spell trouble.
2. Don't go away from the run too early - When they fell behind at Park View - their lone loss - County abandoned the run and went exclusively to the air down the stretch. With Kevin Wiley and Mike Howard, they have the personnel to maintain a balanced attack and that's critical against a fast, strong Broad Run defense.
3. Gang tackle - The Raiders must square their shoulders, wrap up ball carriers and swarm the likes of T.J. Peeler and Adrian Flemming, because yards after contact have a tendency to come in bunches in Ashburn.

Three Keys for Broad Run
1. Run, run, run - It's their bread and butter and until someone proves they can stop it, there's no reason not to run all night long behind that powerful offensive line.
2. Force Campbell out of the pocket - County's QB has multiple quality receivers downfield, but if Broad Run can force him to make decisions on the run, they could force a couple turnovers.
3. Go for the jugular - In recent weeks, the Spartans have mixed in several backs in their dynamic running attack. This is a week to go with their horse early and snuff out the upset bid from the outset.

Elsewhere in Loudoun...

Stone Bridge (6-1) at Langley (3-4), 7:30
How will the Bulldogs respond to their first ever loss in the Liberty District? They'll certainly have their hands full with a Saxons team that has won three straight after an 0-4 start. Following the loss to Madison on Monday night, Mickey Thompson told his players they could no longer "win on reputation" alone. Well, here's their first opportunity to get back to playing the hard-nosed, fundamentally sound football we're used to seeing from this perennial power.

No. 9 Battlefield (7-0) at Heritage (2-5), 7:30
Yet another ranked team visits the Pride in Leesburg this week as the top team in the Northwest Region Division 6 playoff standings comes to town. Heritage has a rising star in sophomore quarterback Austin Nelson, but the points haven't exactly been free flowing as the Pride have cracked 20 only once this season. They'll need a more dynamic attack to keep pace with a Bobcats defense that has held five of seven opponents under 10 points.

Herndon (4-3) at Loudoun Valley (4-3), 7:30
Boy, did the Vikings ever need that overtime win against Stonewall Jackson on Monday. Instead of dropping further out of the Northwest Region Division 6 playoff picture, they're back up to No. 7 and would get another boost with a win over the Hornets. After weeks of relying on junior quarterback Andrew Taylor and the passing game, the Vikings turned to the running attack to squeak by on homecoming. This week they'll need a good mix of both to take advantage of a defense that allows more than 26 points per game.

Briar Woods (2-6) at Park View (5-2), 7:30
Patriots Coach Andy Hill was downright giddy after his team held on through the cold and rain to hand a very strong Martinsburg team just its second loss of the season. Once again, Tommy Sedeski showed how effective he can be with the ball in his hands, scoring all three Park View touchdowns. Meanwhile, the Falcons used a heavy dose of Michael Brownlee - both running and throwing - to get past Potomac Falls and even their record in the district. The Patriots need to keep winning to earn a home playoff game while the Falcons need a 'W' to get back in the hunt. This could be one of the better games of the night.

South Lakes (5-2) at Dominion (3-4), 7:30
The Titans started strong against Loudoun County but gave away a great chance to pull the upset and stay tied for second in the district. Now they welcome a surprising South Lakes squad that currently sits atop the Liberty and will be eager to bounce back from its first loss to a league opponent. Both teams feature flashy, versatile running backs, but with not passing threat, the Titans are at a distinct disadvantage. They must win the turnover battle and get good field position from long returns in order to snap their two-game skid.

Potomac Falls (2-5) at Freedom-South Riding (2-5), 7:30
Both the Panthers and Eagles started off strong, but neither has won since Sept. 11. With young and inexperienced players filling out most of the skill positions, these two squads have yet to find a foothold in the Dulles District. Playoff hopes have been all but dashed, but this one provides an opportunity to get off the mat and back in the win column.

By Matt Brooks  |  October 22, 2009; 5:44 PM ET
Categories:  Briar Woods High School , Broad Run High School , Cedar Run District , Dominion High School , Dulles District , Football , Freedom High School , Heritage High School , Liberty District , Loudoun County High School , Loudoun Valley High School , Park View High School , Potomac Falls High School , Stone Bridge High School  
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