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Northwest Region Football Preview: Week 5

Friday night marks the first significant slate of district football games, but it’s Osbourn (3-1) at Osbourn Park (2-1, 1-0 Cardinal) that stands out as the Northwest Region’s top billing. The series, which features two schools separated by less than three miles, has been defined by a pair of lengthy winning streaks.

Let’s take a look at the previous 12 meetings spread over eight years. You’ll see that Osbourn Park won seven straight before Osbourn reversed the trend in Week 10 of the 2004 season, capturing five straight victories prior to Friday’s 7:30 p.m. kickoff at Osbourn Park.

2001: 31-27 (Osbourn Park), 30-12 (Osbourn Park)
2002: 13-7 (Osbourn Park), 6-0 (Osbourn Park)
2003: 21-10 (Osbourn Park), 18-18 (Osbourn Park)
2004: 21-14 (Osbourn Park), 21-12 (Osbourn)
2005: 23-21 (Osbourn)
2006: 29-6 (Osbourn)
2007: 34-14 (Osbourn)
2008: 28-21 (Osbourn)

One other interesting note: Osbourn Park has shifted to the Cardinal District this fall for the first time since 2001, and this week’s contest won’t have any Cedar Run District implications outside of determining two teams’ overall records.

Of course, don’t tell Osbourn Coach Steve Schultze.

“When you have two cross-town rivals, I think that’s what makes high school sports special,” Schultze said. “We all check when the schedule comes out to see when we’re playing each other and circle that date.”

Osbourn quarterback Thomas Keith has been hampered by knee soreness during the team’s past two games -- the result of Osgood Schlatter disease -- but Schultze said Thursday morning that Keith has practiced all week and would likely split time with Chaz Bates, who replaced Keith under center during wins the past two weeks over Mountain View (35-31) and Freedom-Woodbridge (40-7).

Pick: Osbourn

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Forest Park (0-4) at Potomac (0-4), 7:30

When 0-4 meets 0-4, somebody has to win, right? While Forest Park sure didn’t expect or hope to be winless through the season’s first four weeks, the lack of victories has been a bit more shocking for Potomac, which went through an admitted rebuilding year last year but had looked to contend for the Cardinal District this season. Expect a big game out of Forest Park linebacker Nate Brown, who's an On The Bubble All-Met pick this week.

Pick: Potomac

Gar-Field at Freedom-Woodbridge, 7:30

The Indians are banged up. Nearly a half-dozen impact players were either out or not 100 percent when Gar-Field lost, 26-6, at home to Battlefield last Thursday. Gar-Field will travel to face a Freedom-Woodbridge squad that played Mountain View and Brooke Point close early but suffered a 40-7 blowout loss to Osbourn last week.

Upset Pick: Freedom-Woodbridge

Hylton at Battlefield, 7:30

Battlefield looked dominant against Gar-Field last week -- limiting your opponent to 16 offensive plays, two first downs and two punts in the first half will do that -- and will look to do the same against Hylton, which at 1-2 could really use a momentum-shifting win. But Battlefield is just too balanced, too big up front and too stingy defensively. A big reason for Battlefield's success up front has been senior offensive tackle Jimmy Long, who cracked our All-Met list this week.

Pick: Battlefield

Woodbridge at Stonewall Jackson, 7:30

If I put on a Woodbridge jersey, I think I might suddenly transform into an effective running back. The Vikings have been able to rotate ball carriers at an amazing rate, all while maintaining success. In three games thus far, Woodbridge has totaled 668 rushing yards, which works out to an average of 222.7 per game.

Stonewall Jackson will be without running back Sean Blackman, who had a breakout game last week with 263 yards a touchdown during his team’s 23-7 win over Forest Park. But Blackman left late in the fourth quarter after getting tackled awkwardly on his right shoulder. X-Rays taken Thursday night came back negative. Stonewall Jackson Coach Mike Dougherty said Blackman had full mobility by Saturday, but he confirmed Thursday morning that Blackman would be scratched as a precaution.

Pick: Woodbridge

Heritage at Loudoun Valley, 7:30

Loudoun Valley should be a pretty safe pick here. The Vikings upset -- maybe it shouldn’t be called an upset with the turnaround season unfolding at Loudoun Valley -- Brooke Point last week and look for them to pick up another win here. Junior quarterback Andrew Taylor leads the offense with 711 passing yards and eight touchdowns.

Pick: Loudoun Valley

Albemarle at North Stafford, 7:30

With wins this week -- coupled with a Massaponax loss at Colonial Forge -- the Commonwealth District could be led by a pair of teams that finished 1-9 last season in North Stafford and Riverbend.

Pick: North Stafford

Brooke Point at Mountain View, 7:30

Nothing like watching two skill receivers show off their skills. Between Brooke Point’s E.L. Smiling and Mountain’s Anthony Johnson -- who’s an On the Bubble All-Met pick -- there’s plenty of talent and speed at the wide receiver position in this one.

Pick: Brooke Point

Massaponax at Colonial Forge, 7:30

Massaponax is 3-0, having outscored its first three opponents 111-17. But the Panthers also started their season with three straight games against Division 4 teams -- something that Colonial Forge most certainly is not.

Pick: Colonial Forge

Riverbend at Stafford, 7:30

Like North Stafford, Riverbend has come to life under first-year Coach Todd Campbell. The Bears have been led by senior running back Jesse McNeal, who has 37 carries for 222 yards and three touchdowns this season. Defensively, Riverbend has allowed 18 points during wins over Spotsylvania, Courtland and Chancellor.

Pick: Riverbend

By Jason Mackey  |  September 24, 2009; 9:43 AM ET
Categories:  Battlefield , Brooke Point , Cardinal District , Cedar Run District , Colonial Forge , Commonwealth District , Football , Forest Park , Freedom-Woodbridge , Gar-Field , Heritage , Hylton , Loudoun Valley High School , Massaponax , Mountain View , North Stafford , Northwest Region , Osbourn , Osbourn Park , Potomac (Va.) , Riverbend , Stafford , Stonewall Jackson , Woodbridge  
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