Briar Woods High School won its third consecutive state title last year, trouncing Heritage-Lynchburg 52-0 in the Division 4 championship game. With that win, a Loudoun school has brought home a total of seven state football titles, including one in each of the past six years.
But with new coaches, new districts and a new state playoff formula, this fall football season appears destined to look different than those past.
Locally, Loudoun will welcome three new head coaches this season, with Jason Allen manning the helm at Potomac Falls, Jared Van Acker taking over at Freedom and Reed Prosser leading Heritage.
“I'm bringing a lot of enthusiasm,” Allen said.
John Champe, Loudoun's newest high school, is also hoping for something new – their first win at the varsity level. Now a bonafide member of the Dulles District, the Knights could also potentially capture their first district football win.
The Dulles District is going to look a little bit different this year though. While nine of Loudoun's 13 football teams were all in one district last year, bulging enrollments have necessitated a new “Potomac District” for larger schools, which will be composed of Potomac Falls, Freedom, Briar Woods, Broad Run and Tuscarora. Stone Bridge will stay in the Liberty District while the remaining schools will comprise the Dulles District.
But district standings will mean nothing beyond bragging rights with the new VHSL alignment. Unveiled last fall, the new system features six classes based on school enrollment, with 6A being the largest schools and 1A being the smallest.
Loudoun will have six 5A schools, five 4A schools and two 3A schools. Each classification will have two regions, with four conferences in each region. Conference play marks the first round of the post-season; the state final will pit one region winner against the next.
However, the new outlook doesn't change the plan for many of Loudoun's coaches, six of whom made the postseason last year.
“They can align us wherever they want and we'll play whoever we can,” Tuscarora head coach Michael Burnett said. “That's kind of always been our philosophy.”
The new alignment will bring unfamiliar foes for some teams, a new stage to tackle for others. Will any team be able to look across the uncharted territory and claim the ultimate prize that's become familiar in Loudoun County?
We'll see as the journey commences. The season kicks off Aug. 30.
-Click on each school below for a preview story.
Briar Woods Falcons
Broad Run Spartans
John Champe Knights
Loudoun County Raiders
Loudoun Valley Vikings
Park View Patriots
Potomac Falls Panthers
Stone Bridge Bulldogs