Jim Patrick and his McLean High football players experienced defeat after defeat a year ago on way to a disheartening 0-10 record. But following the winless 2008 campaign, Patrick, the son of legendary former Mount Vernon head coach Bruce Patrick, challenged his players to commit themselves to getting stronger, faster and better through offseason workouts and conditioning.
The results have been impressive for the Highlanders, who have won three of their first four games to begin the current season. The team’s offense, defense and special teams’ units are playing with intensity, determination and confidence, a total turnaround from last year.
Jim Patrick, in his second year at the helm of the program, is proud of the resolve his players have shown in turning the programs’ fortunes around so dramatically. McLean’s latest win came at home last Friday night when, behind two defensive touchdowns, the Highlanders upset perennial Div. 5 playoff contender Madison, 24-21.
“Going 0-10 is not what any coach would want to be in their first year,” said Patrick, earlier this season. “[Going winless] had the potential to be demoralizing and to be a program killer. But the kids worked hard [in the offseason] even though it was one of the hardest things they ever did.”
McLean’s wins have come over Washington-Lee, Wakefield and now Madison. The loss came at Herndon in week two, 28-21. Last Friday night saw the return of key skill position players Riley Beiro (running back) and Will Hecht (quarterback) to the Highlanders’ line-up. Both had missed the previous week’s game against Wakefield for personal reasons. The two teamed up for a first quarter touchdown – a 21-yard scoring toss from Hecht to Beiro – in the first quarter to set the tone of the game. A drew Hunt field goal in the second quarter made it 10-0. Madison never was able to tie or take a lead throughout the night.
For Madison, quarterback Eric Roland threw a touchdown pass to Ryan McGuire and the Warhawks also got scoring runs from Tavin Thomas and Ian Brown. Madison, with the Liberty District loss to the Highlanders, fell to 2-2. Their wins have come over Yorktown and Langley.
This Friday night, Madison will look to get back into the win column when it travels to district opponent Fairfax (2-2), which is coming off an overtime win at Langley. McLean, meanwhile, will play at district opponent South Lakes (3-1), another team experiencing a turnaround season after going 2-8 last year.
South Lakes was a 31-7 winner over district guest Marshall (0-4) last week. The Seahawks, coached by John Ellenberger, received a huge game from running back Ja’Juan Jones (17 carries, 159 yards, 2 TDs). Marshall’s touchdown came on a five yard scoring run by senior running back Victor Vanegas.
South Lakes’ earlier season wins came over Falls Church and Jefferson. Its loss came two weeks ago against cross-town rival Herndon, 29-25.
Marshall, under first year head coach Bill Lapthorn, will be at unbeaten Stone Bridge this Friday night.
Oakton, following its first loss of the season two weeks ago at T.C. Williams, came back with a 27-14 win at Annandale last Friday night. The Cougars (3-1) had a big game from quarterback Jimmy Boone, who threw a pair of touchdowns to Matt Chandler. Oakton will be at home this Friday night against Edison, a lopsided winner over Wakefield last week.
Herndon fell from the unbeaten ranks with a 35-14 loss to Robinson last week. Zack Ozycz tossed a touchdown pass for the Hornets, who opened the season with wins over Jefferson, McLean and South Lakes before falling to the Rams. Herndon will be at home this Saturday afternoon at 1 to take on 0-4 Langley, which fell to Fairfax last week.