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Westfield Preps for No. 7 Robinson

There’s a short note in Tuesday's paper about Westfield (2-4), but here’s a bit more on the Bulldogs, who have lost to teams — Stone Bridge, Lake Braddock, Lee and W.T. Woodson — with a combined 20-4 record. Three of the losses were by a combined five points.

Like most successful programs that are more in rebuilding mode than reloading mode, Westfield has had to make sure that its past triumphs aren't hindering current progress. As Robinson Coach Mark Bendorf has noted in recent years, bulging trophy cases can be a blessing and a burden when it comes to an unproven team trying to find its way.

Westfield, which before this fall had won 78 of its previous 87 games, is experiencing that burden this season.

“It’s tough, actually,” said Bulldogs Coach Tom Verbanic, whose team plays at No. 7 Robinson on Friday. “There is that outside pressure, and they know what’s gone on in the past. To say it’s not there is just a lie. Every team we had had its own identity, and our job right now is for this team to do what they do best.

“It’s not really a secret or anything, but we just feel like although things haven’t gone right, if we just continue to do what we do and get better at it. . . . We haven’t left a lot of room for error, but we still have a chance.”

Sort of coincidental that the win that might have buoyed Westfield’s fortunes was a 35-13 victory last week at Oakton. Before this season, Oakton had handed Westfield six of its previous 10 defeats, dating to 2001.

The Bulldogs turned in a physical defensive performance against Oakton and did not allow a first down until there were about four minutes left in the first half. Seniors Dylan Doty and Nick Grinups each recovered blocked punts in the end zone.

In the latest Virginia High School League power ratings, Westfield is 12th among 15 Division 6 schools in the Northern Region. The top eight will make the playoffs. The Bulldogs’ remaining games are against Virginia AAA Concorde District teams Robinson (6-0), Chantilly (3-3), Centreville (2-4) and Herndon (4-2). Westfield is 1-0 in the district.

With a win over Robinson, the Bulldogs' power rating — and, no doubt, confidence — would shoot up markedly. Robinson chasing its first unbeaten regular season since 2004, which capped a string of four undefeated regular seasons in five years.

“We just have to find a way to slow [Robinson] down a little bit,” Verbanic said. “Again, it’s going to be the same thing, that we’re going to have to believe that we can do certain things and we’re going to have to do what we do.

“The answer isn’t trying to change everything. The answer is to do what we do a little better.”

By Preston Williams  |  October 13, 2009; 4:01 PM ET
Categories:  AAA Concorde District , Robinson , Westfield  
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