It took only a few minutes for Oakton to take the charge out of the Chargers during last Saturday afternoon’s Division 6 Northern Region championship football game between the host Cougars and visiting Chantilly.
The much-anticipated title game between the two Concorde District foes was as lopsided an affair as one could imagine as still unbeaten Oakton (13-0) sapped Chantilly and its strong allegiance of traveling fans of its enthusiasm and energy before even the first quarter of play had been completed. The final score was 52-14 Oakton.
"We just exploded on all cylinders," said Oakton senior linebacker Jack Tyler, a team captain.
Oakton, with the win, captured its first region crown since 2005 and is now set to take part in the Division 6 state AAA playoffs where it will meet visiting Oscar Smith High of Chesapeake in a semifinals game this Saturday afternoon at Oakton. Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m.
Chantilly, which had given Oakton a much closer game in a 17-15 road loss during a regular season meeting Oct. 3, saw its season end at 9-4.
<b>RARELY HAS</b> a team and its fan base been taken out of a championship game faster than what Chantilly was on Saturday. The fired-up Chargers, with the visiting bleachers behind them filled to near capacity with their supporters, lost in embarrassing fashion as they never came remotely close to making a game of it.
Oakton, on the gorgeous, crisp fall afternoon, played with a confidence and swiftness from the very start, as if the team expected to win big all along. The Cougars, to the delight of their hearty fan base, jumped out to a 21-0 lead after one quarter before continuing their dominance with 24 more second-quarter points to put the game away at 45-0 going into the halftime intermission.
"That was most definitely the best half we’ve played this year," said Oakton senior quarterback Chris Coyer, who ran for three touchdowns and passed for two more in the blowout.
Oakton scored on all seven of its first-half possessions, including a 28-yard field goal by Ray Goins on the final play of the half. On two occasions, Oakton touchdowns were set up by long interception returns — pickoffs by defensive backs Andrew Leonard (19-yard return) and Joey Kopfman (45-yard return).
Coyer capped the game’s first possession with a 5-yard scoring run off the left side. Then, a little while later, Oakton running back Jonathan Meadows, who led the Cougars with 111 yards rushing, broke off tackle and into open field for a 27-yard touchdown run for the Cougars’ second score.
But the feeling of a big-time rout was unmistakable when, on the first play of Oakton’s next possession, Coyer dropped back and threw a beautiful, deep sideline pass that receiver Matt Chandler caught in stride before gliding into the end zone for a 51-yard scoring play. Goins’ extra point kick, the third of seven he would make on the day, made it 21-0.
And it got worse from there for Chantilly as Oakton scored touchdowns on its first three possessions of the second quarter — on runs by Coyer (2 and 1 yards out) and running back Trey Watts (22-yard run).
Oakton, in the first half accumulated 314 offensive yards to 47 for Chantilly and piled up 10 first downs to the Chargers’ two.
<b>DURING THAT FIRST</b> half, the Oakton defense totally shut down Chantilly star running back Torrian Pace, who managed only 22 yards on 10 carries before the half. Pace, perhaps the top running back in the region this year, broke through for a long 63-yard touchdown run off the right side during the third quarter for Chantilly’s first touchdown and best play of the game. Pace finished the game with 111 yards on 18 carries.
But Oakton kept Pace in check during the first half when the game was decided.
"Our main goal was to stop him," Tyler said. "Torrian is one of the hardest running backs to tackle and all week [leading up to the game] we knew we had to tackle him well."
For Oakton, Coyer, the team’s left-handed throwing quarterback, completed nine of 15 passes for 184 yards and the three touchdowns. His top receiving targets were Watts (five catches, 44 yards, one TD) and Ryan Harris (two catches, 61 yards). Coyer’s 7-yard touchdown pass to Watts midway through the third quarter gave Oakton a stunning 52-0 lead.
Coyer credited his offensive line in the big win.
"Our offensive line has come together very well and has been performing at a level exactly how we want," he said.
One week earlier, Oakton nearly lost a 27-point lead in a wild 49-43 home win over West Springfield in a region semifinals game.
"Forty-three points was the most we gave up all season and we were pretty upset by that," said Oakton senior linebacker Joey McCallum. "We thought we had a lot to prove [against Chantilly]. Everyone said we couldn’t stop Torrian Pace. Winning [the region] is a dream come true."