By Drew Costley
George Mason High School’s varsity football team was dominated by undefeated Clarke County High School 35-2 last Friday. Mustang Head Coach Tony Green said his team played well despite being outmatched by the Eagles, who are fourth in the AA Virginia High School League rankings.
“That’s a very good football team,” Green said. “There’s a reason they’re ranked in the states. There’s a reason they’re the number three seed in the playoffs right now.”
According to Green, the Mustangs didn’t run the ball well against the Eagles. “We didn’t get movement up front. We couldn’t get our backs loose,” he said.
Sophomore running back Hunter Sulc, who injured his knee in the Mustangs’ win over William Monroe High School last week, played against the Eagles. But senior running back Connor Rhodes, who injured his ankle in the same win, was not cleared to play.
The Mustangs relied on a back of another sort, sophomore linebacker Marcellus Piper, for their only score of the night. The Eagles were pinned behind the five in their own territory after the Mustangs turned the ball over on downs when Piper sacked junior quarterback Sean McDonald in the end zone for a safety.
Green said the Mustangs benefited from playing the “bigger, stronger” Eagles, particularly the younger players, many of whom are enrolled in a weightlifting class at school in order to increase their strength.
“I think it is going to have an impact on our team and where we go from this point on,” Green said.
Despite the big loss, the Mustangs are one game away from entering the postseason for the first time since the 2006 season.
The Mustangs (5-4, 4-3) are ranked 10 and the Eagles (9-0, 6-0) are ranked three in the Class 2A East Virginia High School League standings. The top 16 teams in the class make the postseason. With only one game left in the regular season, it is highly unlikely the Mustangs will be eliminated from postseason contention.
“We’re in the playoffs and that’s great. That was one of our goals this year,” Green said. “That’s great for our team and good for our program.”
But, Green said, the Mustangs can’t afford to think about the playoffs until next Monday, after their final regular season game on the road this Friday against Manassas Park High School (2-7, 0-7).
“They’ve only won two football games, but they’re a really good football team in my opinion,” Green said. “They’re big and physical, they play great defense, and their offense is kind of similar to ours.”
According to Green, the Panthers try to possess the ball and move it down the field on offense. Green said going into the postseason with a win against Manassas Park would be good. How other playoff-bound teams play, regardless of the outcome of the match on Friday, could effect the Mustangs’ seeding in the postseason. But a win against the Panthers could improve their playoff picture.
“We want to win going in obviously,” Green said. “Going in with momentum from a win would be great.”