Area high school football fans who were hoping for or even expecting another classic encounter between Lake Braddock Secondary and W.T. Woodson last Friday night were probably a little disappointed. Well, at least the Woodson fans had to be, as the visiting Bruins overwhelmed the Cavaliers, 52-7, in the non-district Northern Region game.
It was just last season when Lake Braddock and Woodson faced in two highly memorable and fascinating contests. Woodson outlasted the Bruins in a 2009 regular season scoring bonanza, 43-42. Later in the fall, the two rivals met again in the Division 6 region title game. In that meeting, played in muddy conditions, Lake Braddock came out on top in an exciting 27-20 outcome.
"In the [43-42] game where they beat us, they had a two-point conversion that won the game for them," said Lake Braddock senior quarterback Michael Nebrich, recalling that thrilling high-scoring affair last year. "So in the region finals, we wanted to come out and prove we were the better team."
There was much anticipation leading up to the two teams’ week two encounter last week. What would happen this time? Would the game go down to the wire? Wood the Cavaliers avenge last year’s title game loss?
It turned out to be a one-sided affair with the Bruins (2-0) coming out smelling like roses. Nebrich threw four of his five touchdown passes in the first half as Lake Braddock built a 35-0 halftime lead. For the game, the tall signal caller completed 15-of-30 passes for 335 yards. Three of the scoring aerials went to wide receiver Matt Zanellato, the transfer student from Robinson who caught touchdown passes of 49, 17 and 65 yards. Fellow wide-out Tanner Quigley caught Nebrich’s other two scoring tosses from 15 and 60 yards out.
Nebrich, on top of his passing success, also accumulated 147 rushing yards including scoring runs of 35 and 25 yards out.
The score was 49-0 after three quarters. It was a particularly busy night for Bruins’ kicker Nick Weiler, who nailed all seven of his extra points and added a fourth quarter field goal from 37 yards out.
Nebrich said the Bruins, who had beaten Langley, 49-10, a week earlier in the season’s opening week, were not caught up so much in the emotion and hype of meeting Woodson in what some were billing as a rematch of last year’s championship meeting.
"We approached it like we approach almost every game," said the QB, smiling. "We had a good mindset and wanted to come out and make a statement early."
But the Bruins looked like a pretty fired-up, focused group early on against the Cavaliers. Maybe they were somewhat low-keyed during the week leading up to the game. But on game night, Lake Braddock looked pretty ready to play.
"We were all very hyped up to play," said Zanellato, the former Rams’ receiver who, in recent weeks, had heard a lot about last year’s dramatic encounters with Woodson. "I could tell how much the guys didn’t like Woodson and how fierce the rival was."
LAKE BRADDOCK, which went all the way to the Virginia State AAA title game last year, played an outstanding defensive game in Friday’s win over Woodson, limiting the Cavaliers to 65 rushing yards on 24 carries. Woodson QB Andrew Mackay got quite a workout, completing 24 of 40 passes for 196 yards. He got his team onto the scoreboard early in the fourth quarter when he connected with Paul Fridley on a 10-yard touchdown pass.
The Bruins did get three interceptions — the pickoffs coming from seniors Neil Yarbrough (defensive back), linebacker Michael Fletcher and back Carlo Motta.
Offensively, Lake Braddock coach Jim Poythress was pleased with the play of the offensive line.
"I think our line is a lot further ahead than it was last year at this time," he said. "The line moves better than last year’s line. We’re quick and strong, but not as big."
Lake Braddock will have a tough task on Thursday night, Sept. 16, when it travels Westfield High, a perennial region football force which defeated an underrated West Potomac team in overtime last week.
"We’ve got a lot to prove this year, and [as defending region champs] we have a big target on our back," said Zanellato.