Both the Oakton and Madison High football teams are coming off successful 2008 seasons. So it’s quite fitting that the two Vienna-area rivals open up the new season this Friday night in the annual Outback Bowl. Game time will be 7:30 at Oakton.
The Cougars, in particular, put together a season to remember last year by capturing the Div. 6 Northern Region crown and qualifying for the state AAA playoffs. Oakton finished with a remarkable 13-1 record. Madison, meanwhile, finished 7-5 overall. The Warhawks, coached by Gordon Leib, qualified for the eight-team Div. 5 region playoffs where it defeated Yorktown before seeing its season end with a loss to Edison in the semifinals.
Oakton head coach Joe Thompson, who has a much younger squad this season, said his players have worked hard during the preseason and are ready and excited to start the regular season.
“We’re ready for the preseason to be done with,” he said. “A lot of our kids are new and are ready for their first varsity game.”
Two years ago, Madison defeated Oakton in the Outback meeting. Last year, in the season opener between the two teams, Oakton bested the Warhawks, 21-14, at Madison.
Thompson said the games between Oakton and Madison are generally close contests.
“The Outback Bowl has brought the attention to how close the schools are [geographically] and the cross-town rivalry,” said Thompson. “Madison is so well coached and sound. They always bring good fight to the game.”
Oakton, while younger than last year’s squad, does have its entire offensive line back this season.
“Having our line back is a great start for us,” said Thompson. “
The return of the experienced line will make things easier for junior quarterback Jimmy Boone, the program’s JV signal caller last year who is now ready to lead the varsity.
“He had a phenomenal offseason,” said Thompson, of Boone’s preparation for this season. “He’s going to be a real good one. He’s got a beautiful ball, quick feet and a true rifle arm. He had a real good season last year as the JV quarterback.”
When Boone looks to pass the ball, two of his primary targets will be senior wide receivers Matt Chandler and Ray Goins, who is also the team’s returning All-Concorde District kicker.
Oakton’s defense will be led by seniors Andrew Leonard, an All-State selection at safety last year, and All-Northern Region tackle Scott Stangeby. Other key seniors on the defense will be end Dan Aevermann and secondary member Sean Schnitzer.
“Our seniors with playing experience are the ones we will be leaning on the most,” said Thompson.
Following its week one game against Madison, Oakton will host West Springfield on Friday, Sept. 11, then play consecutive road games at T.C. Williams on Thursday, Sept. 17 and Annandale on Friday, Sept. 25. Madison will play its home opener on Sept. 11 against Yorktown, then also host Liberty District opponent Langley on Thursday, Sept. 17.
Another area team, Marshall High, is set to open its new season this Thursday night (Sept. 3) at Hayfield in Alexandria. The Statesmen are under new head coach Bill Lapthorn this season. The team’s week two game, on Sept. 11 against Stuart, will also be on the road. Marshall’s home opener is set for Thursday, Sept. 17 against Robinson.