With playoff berths secured, the Yorktown and Washington-Lee football teams played for nothing more than pride on Nov. 5 when the National District foes concluded the regular season with a matchup at W-LHS. Yorktown took care of business, winning 14-0 and keeping head coach Bruce Hanson undefeated against the Generals during his 26-year career with the Patriots.
One week later, the Arlington rivals will do it all over again — this time, with a lot more at stake. Yorktown, the National District champion and No. 2 seed in Division 5 of the Northern Region, will host No. 7 W-L for a first-round playoff matchup at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 12. Yorktown at 9-1 is the favorite to advance. The Patriots have four shutouts to their credit, have allowed more than 16 points only once and have won their last seven games. But even though Yorktown has played well, Hanson is quick to point out several of the Patriots’ wins have been tightly contested. Plus, Yorktown will face a W-L team eager to avenge last week’s loss and snap its losing streak to the Patriots, which stretches back to 1982. The Generals (5-5) are making their second playoff appearance since 1975.
"We’ve got more to lose than them," Hanson said. "We’re not much better than them. We ended up winning the district, but we’re not light years ahead of everybody. … It’s not like we blew people out."
Yorktown edged Hayfield by one point and beat Mount Vernon and W-L by 14. Each of the Patriots’ four other district wins were by at least 19 points.
W-L head coach Josh Shapiro said the Generals’ recent loss to Yorktown can provide an advantage in terms of making adjustments.
"I’d rather be in our shoes, to be honest, than their shoes," he said. "Losing, you get to look at it with a little more edge, a little more thoroughness."
Each coach was complimentary of the other’s team. Hanson said W-L’s defense, led by Moussa Diallo and Nate Young, provides a challenge, but the key to beating the Generals starts with stopping running back Anthony Taylor. During Friday’s matchup, Taylor rushed 24 times for 92 yards.
"Obviously, you have to shut him down," Hanson said. "He’s their best player. He’s the offensive player of the year in our district. He’s really good."
Shapiro spoke highly of Yorktown’s multiple threats.
"They’ve got the best quarterback in the district," Shapiro said of Jordan Smith, "two very serviceable running backs and a plethora of good receivers. They’re tough to deal with."
Smith completed 8 of 16 passes for 142 yards on Friday. Running back Khalil Doles rushed 22 times for 81 yards and a pair of second quarter touchdowns.
In terms of adjustments for the playoff rematch, Shapiro addressed an obvious need.
"We’ve got to score," he said with a laugh. "They’re very talented, they’re very athletic. They close real fast and they’ve got athletes all over the place."
Shapiro said the Generals brought freshmen up to the varsity level to help in preparation for the playoffs — something he hopes will translate into valuable experience in future years. For now, W-L will try to do something no Generals team has done for nearly 30 years.
Beat rival Yorktown.
"It’s a big rival game," Shapiro said. "You can’t really downplay it. We could probably play out in the parking lot and it would be a big deal."