All in all, the Lake Braddock Bruins had lots of things to like in their 49-10 season opening win over visiting Langley Friday night, Sept. 3.
The defending Northern Region Division 6 champion, Lake Braddock rolled offensively behind quarterback Michael Nebrich, last year’s Division 6 region player of the year. On defense, the Bruins gave up a fare amount of yardage through the air but only allowed the 10 points, all of those coming in the second quarter after the home team had launched out to a 21-0 lead.
"Anytime it’s the first game of the year, you see [as a coach] things that could be fixed," said Lake Braddock head coach Jim Poythress. "But I thought, particularly on offense, we executed very well. Langley’s a pretty good football team despite what the final score was."
While Nebrich had a huge game passing, completing 18-of-28 throws for 240 yards and four touchdowns, his Langley counterpart, Saxon signal caller Braden Anderson (20-of-39, 243, one TD), also put up some good numbers. Under longtime head coach John Howerton, Langley has been a running, grind-it-out team on offense over the years, utilizing its big offensive linemen to pound the ball at opponents.
But in more recent seasons, the Saxons have shifted gears to match their strength on offense. In Anderson, the team has a gifted, strong-armed, drop back passer. Langley also has some good receivers, including Troy Scharfen, who caught 13 passes for 201 yards on Friday. His 58-yard scoring reception accounted for the visiting teams’ lone touchdown of the night.
"I thought their quarterback played reasonably well, and they have a heck of a wide out," said Poythress.
THE BRUINS also had a receiver put up big statistical numbers in the victory as Matt Zanellatto, a transfer student from Patriot District rival Robinson Secondary, where he was an All-Region selection. Zanellatto caught 11 passes for 180 yards and three touchdowns, scoring on aerials from 11 and 67 yards in the first half, and another from eight yards out in the third quarter to give the Bruins a commanding 35-7 advantage.
Also catching several balls for Lake Braddock were Tanner Quigley (6 for 41 yards, one TD) and Chris Williams (three for 24). Late in the game, Quigley and Williams even teamed up for a scoring pass play with the former, in place of Nebrich, connecting with Williams from 7 yards out.
Bruins’ junior Nick Weiler connected on all seven of his point-after kicks in the win.
Lake Braddock, along with throwing the ball well, also had success running the football in the Langley win. Both QB Nebrich and running back Greg Jones rushed for 71 yards. Two of Nebrich’s nine carries resulted in touchdowns (29 and 6-yard scores). The Saxons, meanwhile, were held in check on the ground with 69 yards.
This Friday night, Lake Braddock will play a road game at W.T. Woodson High. Poythress said he expects the Bruins to have their hands full against a team they lost to in a 43-42 regular season, barn-burner last year before getting a victory over the Cavaliers in the region finals, 27-20.
Woodson opened the new season with a 29-14 road win at cross-town rival Fairfax last week. The Cavaliers had outstanding success running the football, led by running back Jon Stokes’ 207 yards and three touchdowns (3, 12 and 71 yard scoring runs) on 30 carries. He also caught a 10-yard scoring pass from quarterback Andrew Mackay (seven-of-12, 45 yards) to open the game’s scoring in the first quarter.
Under first year head coach Kevin Simonds, Fairfax scored both of its touchdowns in the fourth quarter on pass plays from quarterback Spencer Macleod (11-of-17, 138) to Sam Bechert. The Rebels will host Robinson this Friday night.
Poythress said his team will be in for a tough game this Friday against the Cavaliers.
"Woodson executes well," said Poythress "I don’t think anybody will take them lightly."