Alright, let’s do this one last time… -Peter B. Parker
In Week 1, Quince Orchard proved that they belong with the best of the best in Virginia by thrashing a very good South County team 33-0. While South County is very good, though, I’m not sure I would put them on that upper echelon of VA HS teams. Stone Bridge, on the other hand, has historically been a part of that top echelon. Can they give QO a challenge?
Founded in 2000, Stone Bridge went 3-7 in their inaugural season. That would be the last time they had a losing season. But simply saying they haven’t had a losing season in the last two decades would be woefully underselling the Bulldogs’ level of success. From 2001 to 2022, they have a cumulative record of 253-41. That’s a per season average record of roughly 11-2. They took 234 games to get to 200 wins, a VA state record and I imagine one that holds up pretty well nationally too. Aside from their inaugural year, they’ve only finished under 10 wins THREE times…and one of those times was the spring ’21 season when they were undefeated state champs…they just accomplished it in 9 games! 15 of their 23 seasons have featured a regional championship. The Bulldogs have three state titles, winning in 07, Spring 21, and Fall 21. That may seem a bit low given their record, but lemme tell you, the 757/804 regions of VA have some monster teams – as Wise can attest to. This success can all be traced to one man – Mickey Thompson, who has coached the team since the beginning. What makes his success even more remarkable is that Loudoun County isn’t exactly a football powerhouse in VA, yet his teams have been in the thick of state contention since before these current players were born.
However, this year has gotten off to a less than ideal start for Stone Bridge, and not without good reason. Coach Thompson, to his credit, has put his Dawgs through a trial by fire to start the year. First, they took on two-time defending 6A runner-up Madison. It was an excellent game that went back and forth, but the Warhawks came out on top 28-24. Then, they went up to Martinsburg, West Virginia, who’s had a pretty comparable record over the last 15 years. Martinsburg took their lunch money in a 41-7 blowout. Woodgrove last Friday was supposed to be a bounce back opportunity, but storms rolled in and we haven’t heard a peep on whether it was rescheduled or not. Either way, it’s bad for SB: either they played last weekend and will go to QO on short rest, or they’ve been denied a chance to get settled. And don’t look now, but after QO they will hang around in MoCo and take on Good Counsel. Regardless of how the QO game goes, I think you can pretty safely chalk it up as an L. So things are a bit bleaker in Ashburn than they usually are, but that is not necessarily a good thing for QO. These Bulldogs have their backs up against the wall, and you know Coach Thompson will do everything in his power to ensure they do not start 0-4. But does Stone Bridge have enough to pull it off?
More experienced Stone Bridge teams of years past may have pulled off better records against this early slate, but this year a pretty young team is being put through the fire. SB graduated 25 seniors last year, and new players have had to get up to speed fast. But Stone Bridge still has some pretty good players, and they run the rare Wing T offense which Coach Thompson has instilled to near-perfection over the last two decades. Junior Brandon Pena is the starting QB, and he’s no Jordan Dennis, but he can do a little of everything, be it keeping it on the option and taking off, firing quick strikes, and even chucking some deep balls when absolutely necessary. Senior Troy Marquez is the leading RB in the backfield, and senior WR Jordan Kaiser is an electric weapon that we’ll likely see both getting carries from the backfield and running out wide to make contested catches. Defense is a hard hitting unit led by star FS and Wake Forest commit Myles Turpin.
PREDICTION TIME: I see this being a lower-scoring slugfest compared to QO-SoCo. SoCo came out the gate completely unprepared and made a bunch of mistakes that let QO take a big early lead. I think Coach Thompson ensures that SB plays as mistake-free as possible. However, if SB is to hang with QO, they will need to be equals to the Cougars in the trenches which is not something I am sure they can do. QO has not played a good Wing T offense in a while and SB will likely pull out everything they have to keep the Cougars on edge, but all the trickery in the world won’t be enough if QO is blowing up the Bulldogs O-Line. The VA message boards are saying SB got dominated in the trenches in their loss to Martinsburg, and while I can’t really say how QO’s line play compares to Martinsburg, I’d be surprised if Mburg is THAT much better talent-wise. If QO blows up the Wing T, I don’t see Pena keeping the Bulldogs in it with his arm. On the flip side, the Madison game film showed the Bulldogs D being nickeled and dimed by power runs up the gut and short outside passes from the Warhawks offense. I’m confident Iverson Howard & Nino Marzullo will pick up steady yards on the ground much like they did against SoCo, and if Nino can execute the short passes to Tick Groves & co. then QO’s offense should do well on Thursday. Prediction: Quince Orchard by 17. Preview/predictions for other football games this week available here.
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