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Game of the Week: Breakdown

Football got underway in Loudoun last week but tonight more teams hit the gridiron as Stone Bridge, Heritage and Freedom all open their seasons. Here's a quick look at each of tonight's contests.

No. 15 Westfield (0-0) at Stone Bridge (0-0) - 7:30
A year ago, this game would have drawn top dollar at the box office. Two teams with a combined 161-19 record over the last seven seasons clashing in a season opener would make most area fans drool. But these two squads are merely shells of what they've been over that span. Together, they lost a combined 40 players from their 2008 rosters, meaning many of tonight's combatants will be making their first varsity starts. For the Bulldogs, the key will be how well junior Heritage transfer QB Brian Rody adapts to an unfamiliar offense. The single wing forces quarterbacks to run off tackle and make a myriad of decisions at the line of scrimmage instead of just dropping back to pass or tucking and running on your standard quarterback draw. Look for junior RB Marcus Harris to get plenty of touches to help alleviate the strain on his young QB. Defensively, the Bulldogs have replaced their entire front line but they return junior playmakers Kyle Gouveia and Spenser Rositano in the secondary. Bulldogs Coach Mickey Thompson loves to downplay his team's chances and this season, his young group might actually be able to sneak up on a few teams. But don't expect the Bulldogs from Westfield to be napping as they enter Ashburn tonight. This one should be a great game regardless.

Players to Watch
Westfield - Sr. QB Danny Fenyak - This guy returns with experience and will be the catalyst for the offense this season. He has to be excited to face a Stone Bridge defensive line that no longer features four ACC recruits.
Stone Bridge - Jr. RB Marcus Harris - They Bulldogs need to establish their running game early to ease the pressure on their young quarterbacks. Harris saw plenty of action last season and should be one of the leaders of this offensive unit.

Heritage (0-0) at No. 6 Broad Run (1-0) - 7:30
The Spartans picked up just where they left off last season in Week 1, crushing Fauquier 40-6 with strong play on both sides of the ball and special teams. Despite their move up to the AAA Cedar Run, Heritage opens up shop against a familiar foe and one they always seem to play well against. Last season the Pride gave Broad Run one of its stiffest tests, marching down inside the 10-yard line with a chance for the game-tying score late in the fourth quarter. But an opportunistic interception by seldom-used junior linebacker Joseph Walter quashed the upset bid and continued the Spartans' march to the state title. Broad Run is the heavy favorite again tonight at home, but in a rivalry such as this, it's usually a much tighter game than rankings and records would indicate.

Players to Watch
Heritage - Sr. RB David McCarthy - A converted slot receiver, McCarthy is the type of player who can make things happen whenever he touches the ball. He's not the biggest or strongest back, but he has an outstanding football acumen which should enable him to have success as a crafty runner this season. He also has the ability to be a pass-catching threat in the slot or out of the backfield and could be a solid safety valve for Heritage's young quarterback against a ferocious Broad Run defense.
Broad Run - Sr. WR Adrian Flemming - Last year Flemming had perhaps his best game of the season against the Pride, catching two touchdown passes including an absolute beauty (see below) down the right sideline. While the Spartans only needed to throw the ball four times in their opener, expect the Pride to force this issue, giving senior QB David Weaver opportunities to target his big-play receiver.

Keep an eye on Adrian Flemming tonight. (Photo by Richard Lipski, TWP)

Ballou (1-0) at Dominion (0-1) - 7:30
The Titans got hammered in Purcellville last week and look to rebound against the DCIAA's Ballou tonight in their home opener. Dominion couldn't get anything going offensively against Valley, including stud junior RB DeAndre Reaves. They'll need to establish him early in the running game and find some success in the passing game with junior QB Trey Baxter taking some of the heat off the line of scrimmage. If the line can't provide running lanes for Reaves because the defense is stacked in the box, this could be the beginning of another long season for the Titans.

Briar Woods (0-1) at Liberty (0-0) - 7:30
The Falcons were upended by a late 65-yard punt return against Millbrook which you can bet fired up head coach Charlie Pierce and special teams coach Jared Develli, both of whom have been preaching Beamer Ball all summer. So how will the Falcons respond against a Liberty team that just dropped down to AA competition this season. If you're looking for bright spots from last week's loss, how about senior QB Austin Frattali throwing for two touchdowns or RB Michael Brownlee amassing 136 total yards? Both are positive signs for a team that didn't have a ton of offensive firepower outside of the running game in 2008 and lost the bulk of both lines.

Loudoun Valley (1-0) at Woodbridge (0-0) - 7:30
After an eye-opening 41-0 rout of Dominion in their season opener, can the Vikings eclipse last year's win total in their first two games of the year? From the looks of it, junior QB Andrew Taylor has found his top target in Kyle Kohnen (5 rec., 73 yds, 3 TDs) and has really taken hold of Valley's offense. If they can continue to put up points, a defense that returns six starters from a year ago including linebackers Zach Bolan and Kevin Wiley should be able to take care of the rest. Tonight will be a tougher test for this squad, however.

Park View (0-1) at Millbrook (1-0) - 7
The Patriots were hard-luck losers on a last second 42-yard field goal from Sherando a week ago and look to pickup their first win since October 24. Senior WR Tommy Sedeski flashed his big-play ability with a 66-yard punt return for a touchdown and a 15-yard reception for another score. He and senior QB Brandon Lee have great chemistry that should be on display again tonight against a Millbrook team fresh off a 21-14 win over rivals Briar Woods on a late punt return for a touchdown. Rylan Banks led the way for the Pioneers with 80 yards and two TDs on 13 carries and the Patriots will need to tighten up on defense to slow him.

Potomac Falls (1-0) at Martinsburg (0-0) - 7pm

Rumors of the Panthers demise appear to have been greatly exaggerated. This team lost so much from its tremendous 10-2 campaign a year ago that most expected a huge drop-off - especially in offensive production - in 2009. Well, after one game, that certainly looks like an oversight. Behind junior QB Zac Hobby's first start and sophomore running back Tyler Caldwell's two touchdowns, the Panther offense rolled over Jefferson to the tune of a 42-0 beat down in a game that spanned four days. Defensively, the Panthers were just as aggressive and hard-hitting as last year's unit and senior lineman Mason Mehalic returned two fumbles for touchdowns to give the offense a boost - if they needed one. The annual Potomac Falls tour de West Virginia continues this evening as they visit Martinsburg - a team they edged 39-30 in last year's opener.

Warren County (1-0) at Freedom (0-0) - 7:30
The much anticipated Mick Mullins era begins tonight in South Riding as the Eagles kickoff their season against the AA Evergreen's Warren County. There were plenty of questions entering training camp and it'll be interesting to see how much progress this young Freedom team has made since then.

By Matt Brooks  |  September 3, 2009; 4:17 PM ET
Categories:  Briar Woods High School , Broad Run High School , Dominion High School , Football , Freedom High School , Heritage High School , High School Sports , Loudoun Valley High School , Park View High School , Potomac Falls High School , Stone Bridge High School  | Tags: Briar Woods High School, Broad Run High School, Dominion High School, Football, Freedom High School, Heritage High School, High School Sports, Loudoun Valley High School, Park View High School, Potomac Falls High School, Stone Bridge High School  
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