Whether prevailing by scores that are close or lopsided, the Madison Warhawks for three straight seasons now have won region-tournament championship games.
On Nov. 26, top-seed and host Madison (10-3) won its 10th straight game by defeating the second-seeded Centreville Wildcats (10-3), 22-7, in the 6D Northern Region high-school football final played in Vienna. The region title was Madison’s third in a row and fifth in program history.
Last fall, Madison routed Centreville, 35-7, in the region championship game, and defeated Chantilly, 19-14, in that playoff title contest the season before.
This season, Madison defeated Centreville by playing tough defense – limiting the Wildcats to 166 total yards – and executing its offensive game plan by sustaining drives and controlling the ball with 310 total yards behind the tough inside running of Angelo Jreige (131 yards on 24 carries) and the passing of Mac Lewis (9 of 19 for 123 yards).
Madison led 7-0 at the end of the first quarter, 14-0 at halftime, 16-7 after three periods, then added a fourth-quarter touchdown.
“They have a big front four and are tough to run on, but we had to run the ball and we were able to do that,” Madison coach Justin Counts said. “We were able to convert some big third downs and a fourth down early and get the lead.”
Added Jreige: “The focus was on running the ball. Our offensive line dominated, so we were able to run.”
That offensive line consisted of Ari Rosenberg, Nolen Farley, Blake Snider, Tanner Hall, Owen Cass, tight end/fullback Roger Stone and tight end Nolan Wilbricht.
Madison’s three scoring drives covered 80 yards in 10 plays; 76 yards in nine plays, including a 34-yard pass on a fake punt from Orion Luera to Wilbricht; and 34 yards in six plays.
Wilbricht had five catches for 113 yards, all on those scoring drives, including a 45-yard pass from Lewis for Madison’s first score. Jreige had an eight-yard second-quarter TD run and Lewis a fourth-period one-yard dive. Aguri Hartman kicked two extra points.
The Warhawks were awarded a third-quarter safety when Centreville was called for holding in its end zone.
“On offense we took what we could get underneath against them and were able to run the ball well,” Lewis said.
Cord Yates had two catches for 21 yards for Madison. Lewis had eight yards rushing. Dominic Knicely had 12 yards rushing and had a couple of big kick returns totaling 62 yards. Yates had a 35-yard kick return.
Madison’s defense limited Centreville runningback Isaiah Ragland to 79 yards and no long runs.
“He is a good cutback runner, so we were able to box him in on those cutbacks,” Madison defensive lineman Eric Anderson said. “We focused hard on shutting down the run.”
Madison’s 10 wins and region title have come after starting the season 0-3.
“Winning three regions in a row is pretty good,” Anderson said. “Those first three loses showed we still had a lot to learn.”
“When the season started, we knew we had a lot of questions on both lines and some holes to fill, because we graduated a lot of players from last year,” he said. “But we knew we had a lot of talented players who didn’t play a lot last season. We had some tough early games that tested us, and we had to handle that.”
Anderson was one of Madison’s top tackles in the region final, along with Luera, Kevin Chadwick, Michael Delgado, Matthew Remy, Jack Green, Luke Jarvis, Grant McVicker and Ian Kenny.
In Madison’s three playoff wins so far, the Warhawks have allowed just 171, 170 and 166 in those victories.
Next for Madison is a Saturday, Dec. 3 semifinal road game against the undefeated Fairfax Lions (12-0) in a Virginia High School League Class 6 state-tournament contest.
The loss in the region final snapped Centreville’s five-game winning streak and was the team’s 10th loss in a row to Concorde District rival Madison, and its second this season. The Warhawks edged the Wildcats, 21-18, during a regular-season clash in October.
NOTES: The Warhawks have a four-season, 22-game winning streak against district rivals, including five region playoff victories . . . Madison’s 10 victories this season marks the eighth time in program history the team has amassed double-digit wins in a single season. The record is 13 set last fall, with 11 the next highest, accomplished three times. The Warhawks have won 10 games four times.