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Charlie Was Right; This Kid McSorley Could Be A Good One...

It was a hot August night in 2010 when Briar Woods took the field. Starting at quarterback was a young man who barely looked bigger than the large number 7 on the front of his jersey. He was listed at 5-foot-10, 150 pounds, but that looked only to be true if he were weighed in his uniform and had just finished eating a couple of triples from Wendy’s.

(Photo Courtesy Of Marianne Thiede)
Briar Woods QB Trace McSorley

Then on the first play of the game, the horse Briar Woods expected to ride all season – star running back Michael Brownlee – went down with a leg injury and would be lost until the final games of the season.

Things, as they say, just got real for freshman starting quarterback Trace McSorley.

It’s probably safe to say at that moment no one on the planet expected to one day see McSorley have 105 touchdown passes and three state championships to his credit, plus be only two games away from setting a record that can never be broken: being a starting QB on 4 straight state championship teams. But the seeds of all that success were planted that night.

At the time, he wasn’t even Briar Woods’ sole quarterback, alternating with Mark Leith. But with 2:37 left, the ball at his own 9 and trailing 8-7, McSorley was under center. Long passes to Alex Carter (now at Stanford) and Cam Serigne (now at Wake Forest) moved the ball to midfield. On a key 4th down, McSorley stayed cool and found Scott Rolin (now at Virginia Tech) for a 29-yard gain. The plays would set up David Clements’ winning field goal.

“Trace was never a very loud person nor was I; we let Brownlee do all that stuff,” Rolin remembered of that night. “But you could just tell Trace had a calming effect and ice in his veins.”

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Now THAT Is How A HS Football Game Should Be Played...

The Broad Run crowd was loud and proud in the first half...
(Photos Courtesy Of Marianne Thiede)
...but Stone Bridge's crowd went home happy after 31-30 win

It’s after 2 a.m., I should be in bed, and yet I can’t stop thinking about tonight’s Broad Run-Stone Bridge game.

It’s not because of who won – I live a mile from each and think the world of both coaches. But I’m smiling because the area finally got to see what really good high school football is all about.

Andy Hayes over at GameDay and I once had a conversation about the “good old days” when we grew up and a good high school game was packed with people in every seat and lined up around the fence three deep. It was a game where both sides shouted their lungs out, all fans were in a perpetual state of nervousness, and when the final gun sounded, one team celebrated. The other side was on the edge of tears.

This area hasn’t really seen that. Yeah, there have been state championships, and there have been a few games where the crowds have been intense – Phoebus-Stone Bridge in 2007 and the last three Broad Run-Briar Woods games come to mind – but they didn’t quite pack the energy seen tonight.

The best high school game I ever saw was in 1980, when Giles County beat Park View 33-32 for the state title. Two hours before the game, the parking lots were packed. It was bitter cold, but nobody kept their hands in their pocket. Park View had a great player in Allen Pinkett, who scored all 32 of Park View’s points, but it wasn’t individual performance that made it a great game. It was the atmosphere, the tension in the air, the realization that just about every other play was crucial to winning.

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This One Lived Up To The Hype: SB Beats Broad Run In OT

Dorian Jenkins makes catch that put Spartans ahead in OT...
...but Stephen Trivieri answered with tying TD run...
(Photos Courtesy Of Marianne Thiede)
...and Ben Lambourne kicked winning XP for the deciding margin

The first half of what was billed as “The Battle Of The ‘Burn” between Stone Bridge and Broad Run Friday night had little sizzle, and certainly did not live up to its billing as the visiting Spartans rolled to a 24-0 lead.

But the second half made up for any first-half shortcomings, featuring an incredible Stone Bridge comeback, bone-crushing hits, big offensive plays all around, and a miraculous 31-30 Bulldog win in overtime.

In an electric atmosphere boasting the biggest crowd to ever see a football game in Ashburn, Broad Run came out firing while Stone Bridge made mistakes most teams make in their first-week scrimmages.

Stone Bridge fumbled on its first offensive play, leading to a Broad Run field goal. Then the Spartans added two touchdown runs of 7 and 43 yards by Derrill Thomas, plus a 54-yard pass from Connor Jessop to Dorian Jenkins to make it 24-0 as Broad Run fans chanted “over-rated” at the Stone Bridge stands.

If that first half stung them, the Bulldogs did not come out of the locker room to start the second half looking like a rejuvenated team hell-bent on a comeback. Instead, it appeared as if the beating would continue in the second half, as Broad Run drove the ball down to the Stone Bridge 1 with five minutes left in the third quarter.

But facing third and goal, the Bulldogs’ Jonathan Allen stuffed the Spartan run to leave Broad Run with a decision: kick a field goal and go up by four scores, or go for it and turn the game into a rout.

Broad Run decided to gamble, but instead of driving the heel of their cleat through Stone Bridge’s heart, they instead got the toe of a Bulldog hobnail boot in their teeth. Allen stuffed the fourth down run, and the Stone Bridge attack finally showed some life.

Bulldog quarterback Ryan Burns - who got a lot of preseason publicity for the interest he’s received from major colleges - did not display any of that potential in the first half. Stone Bridge Coach Mickey Thompson seemed more intent on using him as a runner than a passer, and of the few passes he threw, all were short throws, with most having a recurring theme of bouncing in the mud a foot in front of his receiver.

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A Perfect Picture Of Broad Run's State Championship Season

(Photo Courtesy John McDonnell of The Washington Post)

It is a picture, I believe, that embodies the reasons Broad Run captured its first football state title in school history Saturday.

Captured by Washington Post photographer John McDonnell, the picture (shown above) shows Broad Run coach Mike Burnett and linebacker Kenny McAdow celebrating seconds after the game ended. One is smiling. The other appears to have a tear in his eye.

I first met Burnett a couple of years ago when Comcast was broadcasting a Broad Run game against Potomac Falls. Burnett was in his first season as the Spartans coach, and he was trying to turn around a team that had gone 1-9 the previous season. He seemed like a nice enough fellow, but his team looked like one struggling to adapt to a new coach, committing literally dozens of penalties while losing to the Panthers. Broad Run, though, was improving, finishing the year at 5-5.

The next season was different. Broad Run won its first five games, and after another broadcast, I had the chance to talk a little with Burnett and McAdow. You could tell that the team was no longer struggling to adapt to its new coach, and with this newfound belief, results were clearly visible.

The more I talked with Burnett, the more it became evident that he was anything but a typical football coach. He was a former attorney whose eyes sparkled not only when he spoke of football, but developing young men, building a team, and caring. He was, in short, a leader.

For over 20 years, I’ve had the chance to manage other people, and there are certain undeniable truths when it comes to motivating and managing them. One is that you can’t fake caring: Either you do or you don’t. If people believe you do care about them and are not just using them to win games or get a bigger bonus, they are more likely to listen to you, more likely to work together, and if you have a game plan that makes sense, more likely to succeed. Burnett sincerely cared about this group.

But to really get things done, you need key people to buy in early to what you’re selling. McAdow, you could see last season, was emotionally “all in.” He talked of hard work, believing in his teammates, and getting to the next level. His excitement for getting out on the field, working hard in the weight room, and dealing with his teammates was barely containable. He seemed to be the kind of teammate who would come looking for you if you missed a workout. And if you declined his invitation, he’d just drag you back to the gym any way.

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"I Am Truly Sorry To Say That You Were Right"

Last Friday, my good friend Paul Draisey and I were talking about a former co-worker at a local radio station we both worked at. The co-worker, who I’ll call Mike, hadn’t been heard from since losing his job a little over a month ago.

Our concern was real. Paul had known him for decades, while I only knew him the year I worked with him. But we both knew he had a drinking problem. Everyone did. As his boss, I had many conversations with him about it. And in the process, I learned a lot about the demons that haunt those afflicted with alcoholism.

When I was growing up, getting drunk was seen as harmless recreation. It’s what you did on Friday and Saturday nights to blow off steam. When I was going to Virginia Tech in the 70s, you were somehow less of a man if you didn’t drink until you passed out. Frats had “hairy buffalo” parties, where some sort of hay or straw was put on the floor. You drank until you couldn’t walk, then rolled around on the floor like a “hairy buffalo.”

Beer consumption was measured in six-packs, not cans. Hung over? Hair of the dog will get you back in the game. Mess with drugs? That will get you kicked out of school. But alcohol? No problem.

I could never handle it. The more I drank, the sicker I was the next morning. And thanks to youth and peer pressure, I kept at it. As the years passed on after college, however, I noticed it became easier to say “no thanks, I don’t feel like throwing up for hours tomorrow morning.” And after one flight too many where I found myself praying “Dear God, make this a smooth flight or just kill me right now,” I realized I didn’t want to drink any more.

If I'm at a party and not drinking makes someone uncomfortable, I'll nurse one for an entire evening. But as most of my friends will tell you, Diet Pepsi is my beverage of choice, and has been for many years. Offer me a bottle of scotch or a big piece of chocolate, and I’ll take the chocolate every time.

Folks like Mike never got to that fork in the road. They just kept on going. Sober, Mike was a good guy. On Mondays, however, when I’d guess he’d had a weekend to imbibe, he could be a terror. In the year I worked with him, he must have turned in his resignation a dozen times. Something would set him off, he’d blow up, and he’d quit. Hours later, he’d come back, hat in hand, and say he was ready to go to work again. I’d say fine, and we’d go on.

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Ricky LaBlue

A longtime sports fanatic, Ricky is now channeling that passion into the world of sports media. Meet Ricky LaBlue.

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The only things he loves more than following Virginia Tech and Washington sports teams are dogs. Meet Stephen Newman.

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