While the last two weeks of the regular season did not bode well for the McLean High football team, the overall 2010 regular season was a resounding success as the Highlanders went 8-2 and earned a No. 3 seeding for the upcoming eight-team Div. 5 Northern Region playoffs.
McLean will host No. 6 Hayfield in a first round game this Friday night at 7:30. The Hawks, coached by Roy Hill and members of the National District, went 6-4 over the regular season. They defeated Edison, 28-7, in their regular season finale last Friday night at home.
The Highlanders experienced a breakthrough regular season in which they were the talk of the region by winning week after week through eight weeks of the schedule. McLean was 8-0 before losing to region power and Liberty District champion Stone Bridge, 38-0, in Ashburn on Oct. 29. The Bulldogs, the top seed of the Div. 5 playoffs, are hosting Stuart this Friday night.
McLean, following the loss to Stone Bridge, concluded the regular season with a disappointing 56-12 loss at district and cross-town rival Langley last Friday night in front of a standing-room crowd of more than 3,500 fans. The Highlanders could not slow down a high-powered Langley offense in which Saxon quarterback Braden Anderson (19-of-30, 301 yards) threw for five touchdowns and running back Philip Mun rushed for over 200 yards and a touchdown. Langley will play at Lake Braddock in a Div. 6 playoff game on Friday.
"If we are going to be successful [in the playoffs], we need to prevent the big play, and control the ball on offense," said McLean head coach Jim Patrick. "This is something we have struggled with the last two weeks."
Whether or not McLean can put the past two weeks behind them and focus instead on the numerous successes it has had this season could be a factor in how the Highlanders fare against Hayfield.
"A real test of our teams' maturity will be moving on after the lopsided loss to Langley," said Patrick. "We need to put it behind us and concentrate on Hayfield."
HAYFIELD'S WINS this season have come over Marshall, Lee, Mount Vernon, Wakefield, Falls Church and Edison. Mount Vernon was the only one of those teams to not end up with a losing season. The Majors (5-5) will play at South Lakes in a Div. 5 playoff game on Friday.
The two best teams the Hawks played this season were Yorktown and Chantilly. They lost both, falling to Yorktown, 17-16, and losing to Div. 6 power Chantilly, 24-6.
Coach Patrick knows his team must play an outstanding game against Hayfield if it hopes to get back onto the winning track and earn the right to play in a semifinals game the following week.
"Hayfield is going to be a formidable challenge for us," said Patrick. "We played pretty evenly with them in a scrimmage this year. They have very athletic players that we have to prevent from making explosive plays."
McLean's leading ball carrier this season is Jimmy Ludwick, who has rushed for 944 yards and 11 touchdowns. The Highlanders have also received good seasons from running backs Ryan McColgan (486 yards, 11 TDs), quarterback Chase Mills (485 yards, 4 TDs) and Rafi Enriquez (221 yards, 2 TDs). McColgan scored both of his team's touchdowns in the Langley game.
Mills, the team's versatile signal caller, completed 33-of-66 passes this season for 478 yards and three touchdowns to go along with his prowess as a ball carrier. His primary targets when the Highlanders did throw were Scotty Lafoon (7 catches, 143 yards), Brian Sanders (10 for 143) and Bruce Beatty (12 for 118).
As a team, the Highlanders accumulated 2,244 rushing yards this season and 517 passing yards.