Only a full season’s worth of games will determine how good both the Oakton and Madison High football teams will be this autumn. But if last Friday’s annual season-opening Outback Bowl meeting between the two Vienna-area rivals is an indication, both squads should be among the Northern Region’s top teams.
In an intense, hard-hitting contest, Oakton, last year’s Div. 6 region champion, got just the better of the action in defeating Madison, 14-0. The much anticipated meeting between the locals took place on a warm September evening and in front of a packed crowd at Oakton.
“Everyone comes out there for a game like this fired up, and everyone gives their best effort,” said Oakton senior receiver Ray Goins, who also handles the Cougars’ punting and kicking duties. “It’s the Outback game.”
Jimmy Boone, Oakton’s quarterback, gave Cougar fans hope that this could be another outstanding season for coach Joe Thompson’s team. Boone, in his first varsity start, played a solid all-around game and had his hands in on both of Oakton’s second quarter touchdowns. His 46-yard touchdown pass to running back Luke Willis, off a screen play to the left, opened the game’s scoring a few minutes into the quarter. And later, the junior signal caller, out of the shotgun formation, took the ball over the goal line from a yard out with two minutes remaining in the half. Goins booted the point-after kicks following both touchdowns and Oakton carried a 14-0 lead into the half.
That ended up being all the points there would be as neither team scored in the second half, earning Oakton’s defense a well-earned shutout. Boone finished the night completing 7-of-15 passes for 119 yards and the scoring toss. He also ran the ball 12 times for 66 yards with a score.
“I had a couple of butterflies and was a little nervous,” said Boone, of his pre-game state. “Offensively in the first two quarters, I think we did very well.”
Boone, prior to his high school days, grew up believing he would one day attend Madison. But his family ultimately moved to the Oakton area and Boone became a Cougar.
“I played youth league with all these kids [from Madison] and I was supposed to go to Madison,” he said.
Thompson, the Oakton coach, said Boone has the right mindset to play a demanding quarterback position.
“He works real hard and takes the game seriously,” said Thompson, of his quarterback. “He’s a very coachable kid and makes good [game] decisions.”
Oakton displayed a balanced offensive attack as Willis, the junior running back, rushed for 80 yards on 18 carries to compliment the team’s passing success.
WHILE QUARTERBACK BOONE played impressively in the opener for Oakton, Madison QB Eric Roland also played a fine game, completing 18-of-33 passes for 140 yards while also picking up 53 yards rushing on 11 tries.
A senior, Roland will lead a talented Warhawks’ offensive unit that is not likely to be shut down again. Madison drove the ball from its 31-yard line all the way to the Oakton 29 in the first quarter. But that drive ended on a missed field goal try from 45 yards out.
The furthest the Warhawks got into Oakton territory came late in the game when Madison, trailing 14-0, marched from its own 27 to the Cougars’ 16 in 12 plays. But on a fourth-and-five play with just over a minute remaining in the game, Roland managed just three yards on a running play as his team lost the ball on downs.
Madison lost two fumbles in the game, but those were the lone turnovers by either team.
“The second half was a defensive battle,” said Madison coach Gordan Leib, who led Madison to the Div. 5 region playoffs a year ago. “I was proud of the way we played.
Oakton is always well-coached. I was happy we hung in there.”
Of Roland, Madison’s talented QB, the coach said, “I think he’ll get better and better each game. He has a little running ability and he can throw.”
Oakton’s big defensive night was highlighted by fumble recoveries from Terrence Smith (secondary) and John Titus (linebacker), and two QB sacks, one coming when teammates Daniel Aevermann and Geoff McLaughlin combined to bring Roland down.
Oakton struggled in the penalties’ department with 11 for 85 yards, but such things occur in the seasons’ first game. But the Cougars committed no turnovers, jumped ahead with the two second quarter TDs and played a terrific defensive game in getting the win to start the season at 1-0.
“It’s a very big win,” said Goins, who caught two passes for 21 yards. “The defense definitely did their part. Our season started on the right foot and we’ll keep building from here. We had a very good week of practices.”
Added coach Thompson, “We’ve got a good, hard-working group of kids and to have success tonight is real rewarding. This is a cross-town rival game and it’s for a trophy. We told the kids [going in] they had to prepare to win. Madison is a tough game with tough kids.”
One could not have asked for a better atmosphere for the opener between the longtime rivals. There was a celebration feel in the hour leading up to kickoff and a buzz of excitement going through both of the student body sections.
“There were probably 4 or 5,000 people there,” said Leib, the Madison coach. “I thought the whole atmosphere was great.”