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Cougars Readying for QB Renner and Spartans

Herndon’s winning season ends with playoff loss to Westfield.

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Herndon High receiver Nick Impellizzeri (85) makes a play during the Hornets’ regular season win over Westfield. During Herndon’s more recent playoff loss to the Bulldogs last week, the junior wideout caught five balls for 69 yards.

The Oakton High football team (11-0), the top seed of the eight-team, Northern Region Div. 6 (larger schools) playoffs, handled visiting South County High, 30-13, in a first round game last Friday night.

As a result, coach Joe Thompson’s Cougars will host West Springfield High in a semifinals game this Friday night. The high-scoring Spartans, who are led by standout quarterback Bryn Renner, are coming off last week’s 72-47 playoff triumph over W.T. Woodson.

"They’re scary in the fact that they are so good offensively," said Thompson, of the Spartans. "They score a lot of points and pressure you to do the same."

Last week, Oakton continued its perfect season on into the playoffs with its decisive win over South County. First quarter touchdown runs by running back Trey Watts (10 carries, 85 yards) helped the Cougars build a 14-0 lead. The home team still held a 14-7 halftime lead before breaking the contest open with 16 third quarter points to jettison them ahead, 30-7.

"We played well in all areas of the game," said coach Thompson. "On our opening drive we scored and that gave us confidence. We got up two scores in the first quarter and that kind of settled us."

Jonathan Meadows (17 carries, 101 yards) ran for two touchdowns during the third quarter. Oakton also earned a two-point safety in the quarter as well.

Oakton quarterback Chris Coyer completed 6-of-11 passes for 75 yards and also ran for 119 yards on 15 carries.

The Cougars will have their work cut out in slowing down West Springfield and quarterback Renner, who was 20-of-31 for 273 yards passing against Woodson, while also running for two touchdowns.

Thompson is not sure it is even possible to hold the North Carolina-bound Renner completely in check.

"I haven’t seen anyone do it," said Thompson. "My guess is to hold the ball [on offense] and keep it away from him. I haven’t seen anyone shut him down in two years."

<b>HERNDON HIGH’S</b> football season came to an end last Friday night when the Hornets lost at Westfield, 41-22, in a first round Div. 6 playoff game.

With the loss, Herndon saw its season end at 6-5. Westfield, meanwhile, next advances to a semifinals game against Chantilly this Friday night.

"I think our effort was pretty good," said Herndon coach Joe Sheaffer. "We had a great week of practice."

But Herndon could not defeat a Westfield team it had beaten during the regular season. Three weeks ago, Herndon celebrated its grandest moment of the season when it defeated Westfield, 29-28, on a homecoming Saturday afternoon. But the Hornets, who were 6-2 following that win, lost the following two weeks against Robinson and Oakton to close out the regular season on a down turn. Both setbacks were lopsided affairs. And Herndon could not turn things around in its playoff meeting against Westfield.

The Bulldogs (9-2) took control of the action early on by building a 14-0 first quarter lead and taking a 28-6 lead into halftime. The Hornets had no answers for stopping Westfield running back Jordan Anderson, who rushed for 279 yards and four touchdowns on 24 carries. The senior sensation opened the game’s scoring with a 65-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.

Herndon’s first half touchdown came on a 63-yard scoring catch by senior Zach Leach, on a ball thrown by senior Chris Medina. Leach finished the game with four catches for 83 yards and the touchdown.

Also for the Hornets, junior wide receiver Nick Impellizzeri caught five balls for 69 yards and a touchdown. His scoring catch came in the fourth quarter from 52 yards out on a pass from quarterback Zack Ozycz.

Ozycz, a junior, completed 13-of-20 passes for 144 yards and led the Hornets in rushing with 83 yards on 10 carries.

This season marked the first since 2003 in which Herndon qualified for the postseason. The ’03 Herndon team also fell to Westfield in the playoffs.

Sheaffer said he was pleased overall with his team’s season, but disappointed that the Hornets did not play better over the final three weeks.

"There’s a little bit of a bad taste because of how we played at the end of the season," said Sheaffer. "I just wish we had played a little better down the stretch."