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Week 8 Matchups in the Great Northwest

This week’s schedule is clearly headlined by Osbourn at Battlefield, a rematch from last year’s Northwest Region semifinals. But several other important storylines should unfold, too. Will Riverbend, which has cruised through the early part of the season, assert itself against the Commonwealth District’s other top teams? Or will Freedom-Woodbridge find a way to make its season and knock off Woodbridge?

We’ll find out, of course, on Friday night. But in the meantime, here is this week’s installment of my picks and predictions for Week 8 in the Northwest Region.

Last Week: 7-2
Season: 22-7

Osbourn (5-2, 1-0) at No. 12 Battlefield (6-0, 0-0), 7:30

Over the past three-plus seasons, only Woodbridge’s win total of 34 eclipses those of Osbourn (32) and Battlefield (29) among Prince William County teams. When this one kicks off Friday, the Bobcats will hope to avenge last year’s Northwest Region semifinal, where Osbourn pulled off a 22-20 upset. Osbourn is scoring an average of 33 points per game, while Battlefield’s defense has allowed an average of 7.2 per contest. “The pride of our team is our defense,” Battlefield lineman Jimmy Long said this week. And because of that defense, I’m taking Battlefield.

Pick: Battlefield

Heritage (2-4, 1-1) at Hylton (2-4, 1-2), 7:30

It’s hard to believe that Hylton, one of Prince William County’s historically strongest teams, is an overtime field goal away from a one-win season. I do not, however, think that the Bulldogs have one-win talent. Though it’s awfully tough to get a read on Heritage at this point -- the Pride has beaten Stonewall Jackson and upset Loudoun Valley but still has four losses -- I’m thinking that Hylton bounces back in this non-district contest.

Pick: Hylton

Gar-Field (4-3, 2-1) at Forest Park (0-6, 0-2), 7:30

Gar-Field’s defense, led by junior Austin Copeland, has been huge this season, allowing only 23 points during its last three contests, including a shutout last week against Potomac. Forest Park, meanwhile, is going to win at some point -- I just don’t think it’s going to be this week against the Indians and tailback Bryce Miller, who has been on a roll lately. I would expect another big week out of him (see below) and the Gar-Field offense.

Pick: Gar-Field

Osbourn Park (5-1, 3-0) at Potomac (1-6, 1-2), 7:30

The big question for Osbourn Park centers around whether or not the Yellow Jackets will have their two biggest guns available for this one. Quarterback Dominique Terrell and running back Gary Jackson both missed last week’s game -- a 35-0 win over Freedom-Woodbridge -- with injuries, but Coach Brian Beaty said both would practice this week and would be good to go against the Panthers. Even with Chris Mason Jr., who filled in last week with 116 yards and three touchdowns, as a capable backup, there’s no question that both Terrell and Jackson are two explosive, exciting and impactful players.

Pick: Osbourn Park

No. 15 Woodbridge (6-0, 2-0) at Freedom-Woodbridge (0-6, 0-2), 7:30

What a difference one word can make. Woodbridge, which is undefeated, is scoring an average of 37.5 points per game. Freedom-Woodbridge is still searching for its first win and is averaging 6.7 points, while the Eagles have only scored two or more touchdowns just one time this season -- during a 31-19 loss to Mountain View in Week 1. As much as I think that Freedom-Woodbridge will be more than psyched to try and knock off the Cardinal District’s top team, the Vikings are just too much to handle.

Pick: Woodbridge

Massaponax (5-1, 2-1) at Albemarle (0-6, 0-3), 7

Last week’s game was a litmus test of sorts for Massaponax, and the Panthers passed with flying colors, handing Brooke Point a 54-7 loss. This week should be a bit easier with Albemarle, a team that’s allowing an average of 43.5 points per contest. The Panthers won’t be worried so much about proving themselves as they will be about avoiding a potential trap game with undefeated Riverbend waiting next week.

Pick: Massaponax

Riverbend (6-0, 3-0) at Brooke Point (4-2, 2-1), 7:30

Yes, Riverbend is 6-0. But the Bears’ first six opponents are a combined 10-23 entering Friday’s games. This starts a brutal stretch for Riverbend, during which its final four foes -- Brooke Point, Massaponax, Colonial Forge and North Stafford -- are a combined 18-6. And don’t think for a second that Brooke Point isn’t going to want to erase last week’s 54-7 loss to Massaponax. I’m expecting the Black-Hawks to come out here ready to make a statement ahead of next week’s game at Colonial Forge.

Pick: Brooke Point

Colonial Forge (5-1, 3-0) at Mountain View (3-3, 1-2), 7:30

Though Colonial Forge is technically fourth in this week’s installment of the Virginia High School League’s Powerpoint standings, the Eagles are a five-overtime thriller at Woodbridge away from being undefeated. Just think how things would be shaking out for Colonial Forge right now if the Eagles were able to put Woodbridge away on Sept. 11. And although Mountain View possesses a strong passing offense behind wide receiver Anthony Johnson, Colonial Forge has a wide array of playmakers on an offense that has totaled 238 points in six games.

Pick: Colonial Forge

Stafford (1-5, 0-3) at North Stafford (4-2, 1-2), 7:30

North Stafford Coach Joe Mangano told me a few weeks back that he didn’t think his team was in the same class as Colonial Forge, Brooke Point and the other top teams in the Commonwealth District. The Wolverines, however, are probably even with (or a notch above) Stafford, a neighborhood rival who has played a brutally tough schedule with games against Osbourn Park, Woodbridge, Riverbend and Massaponax. Still, Stafford has lost its five games by an average of 31.2 points per contest. I think an upset could possibly be in the works here, but I’m sticking with my gut and taking North Stafford.

Pick: North Stafford

Stonewall Jackson (3-4, 0-1) at Loudoun Valley (3-3, 0-2), 1:30

A contrast in styles, anyone? Make no mistake about it, Stonewall Jackson is a running team. The Raiders relied on Jerry Budd last week 40 times, and he came through with 206 yards and two touchdowns. Whether it’s Budd or Sean Blackman, who still hasn’t returned from a shoulder injury suffered during a 23-7 win over Forest Park in Week 4, Stonewall Jackson will assuredly stick to the ground. Meanwhile, Loudoun Valley relies heavily on the pass, with junior quarterback Andrew Taylor (992 yards, 12 touchdowns) having a breakout season. I’m taking the pass in this one.

Pick: Loudoun Valley

By Jason Mackey  |  October 15, 2009; 9:05 PM 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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