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South Briefs (Nov. 5-12)

<b>Spartan Hurlers Shine at Showcase Tournament</b>

At the World Wood Bat Association Fall Championship, an 80-team amateur baseball tournament that took place Oct. 23-27 in Jupiter, Fla., three West Springfield pitchers competed with their travel teams for a shot at the prestigious tournament title. Seniors Mike Kent (Hurricanes Baseball) and Richie McMahon (Richmond Braves National), as well as junior Bobby Wahl (Orioles Scout Team) all made starts, with Kent and McMahon picking up wins. Kent threw six innings and scattered three hits, while McMahon tossed a complete-game two-hitter.

<b>Burke Apex Undefeated in Fall</b>

Playing in the WAGS league, the Burke Apex (U-13 girls) finished the fall soccer season undefeated. In tournament play, the Burke squad won its flight in the Toys for Tots Tournament before the regular season and won the Battlefield Classic Tournament over the Columbus Day weekend. The team will have a yard sale fund raiser on Saturday, Nov. 8, from 9 a.m.-1 p.m., at 10423 Woodbury Woods Court, Fairfax. Soccer gear, toys, clothes and household items will be available.

<b>Edison’s Degfae Adds Signature Win</b>

After second-place finishes at the Monroe Parker, Glory Days and Octoberfest Invitationals, Edison’s Leoule Degfae was still looking for a signature win when he started the 2.98-mile course at Burke Lake Park last Thursday for the Northern Region cross-country championships.

Sure, Degfae had won the National District individual title only seven days before but that win lacked the prestige of the larger Invitationals.

“It makes first place even sweeter,” said Degfae, who finished with a time of 15 minutes, 12.27 seconds and grabbed the first region title for an Edison runner since 1974. “I never won an invitational, but winning this makes up for all the [second-place finishes].”

Behind Degfae, the Edison boys team placed seventh, while the girls, keyed by a seventh-place finish from Myah Hicks (18:06.91) took eighth.

The top four teams and 15 individuals will advance to Saturday’s Virginia AAA state championship race, held at Great Meadow in The Plains. Start times are 11:45 a.m. (AAA girls) and 12:30 p.m. (AAA boys).

<b>Robinson Optimistic for State Meet</b>

After his boys and girls cross-country teams logged second- and third-place finishes, respectively, at the Oct. 31 Northern Region championship meet, Robinson coach Jeremy Workman let out a sigh of relief.

He felt that the second of three postseason meets provided the easiest opportunity to “choke” and was pleased that both of his teams didn’t.

“The main thing is that we’re moving on,” Workman said. “I was proud of the fact that both teams got into the top three. I’m not satisfied, but we’re right where we need to be and that’s all I can ask right now.”

Workman, who has coached at the school for the past 14 years, has had his share of talented teams, most recently winning Virginia AAA state titles in 1999 (boys) and 2001 (girls).

With the top four teams and 15 individual finishers qualifying for Saturday’s state meet at Great Meadow in The Plains, Workman likes his team’s chances on the 3.1-mile course.

“It’s very hilly. It’s a true 5K and a true cross-country course,” Workman said. “I feel like we’re at our best on a true 5K course, which has not been the case during my previous years.”

Leading the Rams last Thursday, senior Jared Berman finished fourth with a time of 15 minutes, 31.48 seconds and senior Stephanie Bray took 15th place with a time of 18:30.14.

<b>Lake Braddock’s Epstein Pulls Away</b>

Though her personal-best mark of 17 minutes, 46.04 seconds would eventually make it a memorable performance, the first time Lake Braddock junior Liana Epstein wound her way through the crowd at last Thursday’s Northern Region cross-country championships appeared to signal just an average day.

It was Epstein’s plan to hang with the five or so runners around her until she felt comfortable enough to lead for good, and the two-time Patriot District champion did exactly that en route to her first-ever region crown.

“My plan was just to go out, make my way to the front pack, and not stress out too much,” Epstein said. “If I felt good, I was going to go, and then I got to that point and I did.”

Epstein held off Stone Bridge’s Stephanie Paradis (17:58.75) and Jefferson’s Stephanie Marzen (18:00.21) for the win, as Lake Braddock’s girls team qualified for Saturday’s Virginia AAA state meet, held at Great Meadow in The Plains.

“That was the ultimate goal — to get out of this region meet,” said Lake Braddock coach Mike Mangan, whose boys team also qualified for the state meet with a fourth-place finish. “It’s hard to have three great performances in a row, so hopefully we’re due for one [Saturday].”

<b>Jefferson Girls Surpass Expectations</b>

With one of its runners out with a foot injury, the Jefferson girls team simply wanted to run well and advance to the state level at last Thursday’s Northern Region cross-country championships.

But with three of the top 11 runners, Jefferson even surprised its coach.

“They ran beyond expectations,” coach Matt Ryan said. “That’s phenomenal they were able to win.”

Jefferson totaled only 69 points, holding off second-place Oakton (100) and third-place Robinson (110).

Sophomore Stephanie Marzen led an opportunistic Jefferson squad, finishing third with a time of 18:00.21. Freshman Sarah Stites (18:08.06) took eighth and freshman Katherine Sheridan (18:15.65) finished 11th.

With a third-place finish, the Jefferson boys team also qualified for Saturday’s Virginia AAA state meet, held at Great Meadow in The Plains.

<b>South County’s First-Round Test</b>

Entering last Friday’s Week 10 matchup at Annandale, the South County football team had an opportunity to win its first-ever Patriot District crown. But after allowing 21 unanswered points in the second half of a 28-7 loss, the Stallions were just thankful to sneak into the Northern Region playoffs as the No. 8 seed.

“Somebody has to be the eighth seed,” said South County coach Pete Bendorf, whose team will travel to top-seeded Oakton Friday night. “Certainly, we didn’t want to be but we’re happy to be in and happy to have the opportunity to play a good football team.”

Bendorf spent 11 seasons on the sideline opposite at Oakton, leading the Cougars to a Northern Region title in 2002. South County (6-4) scrimmages Oakton at the beginning of every season, but this will be the first time Bendorf returns to Oakton in a meaningful game.

“I’ve tried to not give it too much thought,” said Bendorf, who is the brother-in-law of Oakton coach Joe Thompson. “I don’t want to go over there and play poorly, I can tell you that.”

<b>Lee Lines Up with Edison Again</b>

It’s almost as if someone hit rewind on the Lee football team’s season. After starting the year with a mistake-riddled 35-14 loss to Edison, the Lancers will get another crack at the Eagles when the two meet for the first round of the Northern Region playoffs on Friday.

During that Week 1 contest, Lee surrendered an early kickoff return and punt return — both touchdowns — and couldn’t mount a counterattack against Edison’s defense (allowing 10.7 points per game).

“We have another chance to put a better situation back on the field,” said Lee coach Rob Everett, whose team enters the matchup with a 3-7 record.

In last week’s 20-17 win over Chantilly, Edison’s Stephon Robertson (knee), Angus Harper (concussion) and Josh Page (knee) all suffered injuries and could miss Friday’s game.

Regardless, Everett has learned than when

facing Edison’s veteran head coach, Vaughn Lewis, one can never take anything for granted.

“We’re going to play our game and do what we do defensively,” Everett said. “Regardless who’s in there, it’s going to be a very capable and explosive player running the ball.”

In addition to Robertson (878 rushing yards, 18 touchdowns) and Harper (849 rushing yards, eight touchdowns), Edison (9-0) has thrived this season thanks to quarterback Levi Barber (1,035 passing yards, 345 rushing yards and 12 total touchdowns) and wide receiver Corey Washington (23 catches, 344 yards and five touchdowns).

<b>Execution Key against Spartans</b>

When this year’s crop of W.T. Woodson football seniors were freshman, the Cavaliers went 3-7. After the team’s most recent playoff appearance in 2004, a huge letdown would fellow as several seniors that year walked away from the team.

This season, the team’s first playoff appearance since 2004, W.T. Woodson’s seniors hope to have a little bit more of a lasting impact.

The Cavaliers will travel to West Springfield on Friday, hoping to at least slow down the Spartans’ vaunted passing attack (scoring 41.2 points per game).

“I don’t know if you can stop it, but I think you just have to kind of play consistent and not give up the big plays,” said third-year coach Trey Taylor, who has led his Cavaliers to a 7-3 record this season.

With quarterback Connor Reilly (1,628 passing yards, 19 touchdowns) and wide receiver Max Waizenegger (44 catches, 806 yards and 13 touchdowns), W.T. Woodson has a passing attack that could rival that of West Springfield.

Still, it doesn’t matter whom the Cavaliers play, execution will be the key.

“Our focus is going to be moving the chains,” Taylor said. “It doesn’t matter if we’re playing Westfield or West Springfield, we have to execute or we’re going to be turning in our stuff after the game.”

<b>Jefferson Football Looks To Make Mark</b>

For the first time since 2004 and for only the second time in the past 20 years, Jefferson’s football team has advanced to the postseason, finishing with a 4-6 overall record. The seventh-seeded Colonials will face No. 2 seed Stone Bridge in the first round of the Northern Region Division 5 playoffs on Friday.

Jefferson has been led this season by dual-threat quarterback Ben Daly, who has passed for 1,326 yards, ran for 358 more and totaled 19 touchdowns.

Mike Howard (31 catches, 442 yards and four touchdowns) and Evan Burch (22 catches, 429 yards and five touchdowns) have been Daly’s favorite targets, while Alex Shmorhun (53 total tackles) has keyed the Colonial defense.

“These players are not only playing for themselves, they’re playing for their opportunity to build the program up a little bit from where it’s been over the past couple of years,” Jefferson coach Tim Puvogel said. “These young men want to demonstrate that they can be competitive with a team that has had the success that Stone Bridge has had.”