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FairfaxSportsMadison set to play for state football title

Madison set to play for state football title

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The task won’t be easy for the Madison Warhawks to win the school’s first state-tournament football championship when they face the defending champion Oscar Smith Tigers in the Dec. 11 Class 6 final.

Oscar Smith (12-1) is ranked No. 1 in Virginia’s overall and Class 6 polls by the Max Prep Website, with the Tigers having shut out six opponents and averaging 52.4 points per game with an explosive big-play offense with many weapons.

“They are real athletic, fast and explosive on offense and they are big. It will be a real test,” Madison coach Justin Counts said.

Madison is 13-1, has won 13 straight games and is playing in the Virginia High School League state final for the first time. Oscar Smith, which has won 10 games in a row entering the state final, has won three state crowns in program history and finished second five times, with the runner-up finishes all occurring starting in the 2013 season.

The Warhawks have shut out five opponents, have allowed just 19 points in four playoff games (no more than seven in any game) and the team averages 35.8 points per contest. Madison is ranked eighth in the state’s overall poll by Max Preps.

The state final kicks off at noon at Old Dominion University.

The South County Stallions are the one team that has played Madison and Oscar Smith twice each in the past three seasons in state-tournament contests, with 1-1 records against both. The Stallions lost last season’s state final to the Tigers, 62-21, and defeated the team, 14-13, in the 2019 state-title clash.

So the Stallions know the teams well, losing to Madison, 28-6, in this season’s state semifinal on Dec. 4 and defeating the Warhawks in the previous season’s semifinals.

South County offensive coordinator Brian Magaha said Madison has a very good chance to be very competitive in the game, if not better.

“No. 1 [Madison runningback Alex Jreige] will be Madison’s best defense in the game,” Magaha said. “With him and his tough running inside, and the way Madison grinds it out on offense, they have the ability to run and keep the ball with long drives and limit Oscar Smith’s possession, and keep that offense off the field. I think Madison can run and move the ball against them and convert those third and fourth downs like they did against us.”

Jreige has rushed for 1,628 yards and 20 touchdowns this season and has run for more than 3,500 in his high-school career.

Magaha said both teams are very physical. He believes Oscar Smith will be able to score against Madison, but said the Warhawks will be able to limit that scoring and can answer the Tigers when they score.

“Madison is very good and, yes, I think they can win,” Magaha said.

A key for Madison, Counts believes, might be that Oscar Smith hasn’t faced a quality team that plays a more deliberate style on offense like the Warhawks.

“They are good and we are good. We will have to hold the ball, move the ball and get first downs,” Counts said.

NOTE: Oscar Smith’s loss came in week three of the regular season by a 49-0 score to St. John Bosco of California, a team ranked ninth in the county by Max Prep. Oscar Smith is ranked 54th in the country. Madison is not ranked in the top 100.

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