One of the biggest high-school sporting events in Arlington of any year is the annual varsity football showdown between the Washington-Liberty Generals and Yorktown Patriots.
For decades, the county rivals have met in the final regular-season game on a Friday night, drawing big and lively crowds. Each side usually has a large and active student section.
“It’s like always the biggest game of the year for us during the regular season,” Yorktown coach Bruce Hanson said. “We look forward to it so much, and I know W-L does the same. There are bragging rights on the line. It’s fun and a big deal. The teams are so motivated.”
The games are frequently competitive, with Yorktown having won the past three years. Sometimes those bragging rights are on the line to determine which public-school team will become the unofficial county champion in football for that year. Although there is no trophy awarded, its a big deal to the winning team and players, and much disappointed to the losers.
The teams again meet in this weird, delayed and shortened football season, which began in February instead of August because of the pandemic. But this year, the contest is on Saturday afternoon, March 13 at 4 p.m. at Yorktown, instead of the usual Friday night.
Because of COVID-based spectator limitations, another difference is there won’t be any student section on hand this year. Mainly just parents will be watching.
Last season, the large student sections charged the field after Yorktown won at W-L in a close contest and nearly they clashed, making for an anxious moment.
This season’s game is in week three of a six-week campaign, not the final regular-season showdown, which Hanson admits is a bit of a letdown.
“You are always looking to the end to that game,” Hanson said.
Washington-Liberty coach Josh Shapiro echoes Hanson’s comments, saying his team becomes more motivated against Yorktown than any opponent.
“If we beat Yorktown in the final game, that can make the season, no matter your record,” Shapiro said.
No true county champion can be claimed this year because, for scheduling reasons, Arlington’s Wakefield and Yorktown won’t meet as they always have.
Wakefield defeated W-L on Feb. 23. So if Washington-Liberty defeats Yorktown, then a slight case could be made that Wakefield will be the county champs, with an asterisk maybe.
The Liberty District teams bring 0-2 records into the contest, each with offenses that have struggled to run, or even move the ball much, in the case of Yorktown.
On defense, the Patriots have struggled as well, allowing 34 and 33 points in its losses. Washington-Liberty allowed 28 points in a March 5 defeat to McLean.
The coaches say the motivation for the game will be a little different this season because each team is seeking it’s initial victory to keep any postseason or district-championship hopes alive.