The Westfield (Chantilly, Va.)
football team (11-2) avenged a 28-24 regular-season loss on Saturday by nipping previously undefeated Lake Braddock (Burke) 19-16 during the Class 6A state quarterfinals.
"It was a pretty big win," coach Kyle Simmons told MaxPreps. "We've been playing on Thanksgiving weekend the last two years and lost both times. I would say everybody in the area would consider this a big upset. They have a very high-powered offense. We're one step closer to the big prize of playing for the state championship."
Simmons said his team had five very good days of practice and he used a somewhat different approach the second time around.
"We brought some pressure differently than what we had done in the first game," he said. "It was their lowest point total of the year."
Trailing by 13 points with five minutes left — and playing most of the game without their best player — they rallied to tie the game at 16 with 15 seconds left. Due to penalties, they attempted the decisive extra-point kick five times before Conor Bouveron
converted. A safety was added as time expired.
The hero's role belonged to Evan Gray
, a 6-foot, 221-pound junior who had mainly been a blocker until top ball carrier Tyler Thrasher-Walker
(6-2, 185, senior) went down with an injury in the second quarter after gaining 98 yards on 17 carries. Gray stepped up and finished with 159 yards and one touchdown on 25 carries.
Simmons played three sports at Colonel Richardson (Federalsburg, Md.)
and football for four years at Salisbury University, but never thought much about coaching until he had begun his career as an elementary teacher. He accepted an assistant football coaching position at Lake Braddock in 1993 and wound up at Westfield when it opened in 2000.
He has been head coach at Westfield the last three years, posting outstanding consecutive records of 12-1, 12-1 and 11-2 at the school of 2,800 students in grades 9-12.
Now the Bulldogs have an opportunity to avenge their other loss when they play unbeaten Centreville (Clifton) Saturday in the Class 6A state semifinals.
"We lost 28-0 to them early in the season," said Simmons. "We are better. They also are a district rival, just five miles apart. A lot of their kids came to our school when it opened."