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FairfaxOffensive line play a key to Madison's success

Offensive line play a key to Madison’s success

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Maybe the biggest question regarding the Madison Warhawks prior to the start of the 2021 high-school football season was the status of the team’s offensive line.

That unit was returning just two starters – seniors Grant Boody and Ciaran Sullivan – from the previous season’s district and region championship team. That meant Boody and Sullivan would have to mesh with three new starters that were either backups or on the junior varsity team last season.

For Madison’s physical style of play on offense to work, where a productive and dominating running game is vastly important, the quick development of those new starters along the line was a must for position coach Cody Canard.

The three new starters along the line eventually became all seniors, center Tyler Whittle, Kevin Gaston and Edrees Noory. In addition, junior Roger Stone evolved into an important blocking tight end.


Even though Madison lost and was shut out in its opening game of the season, 20-0, by perennial Class 5 state power Stone Bridge, there were positive signs from that offensive line and the three new starters.  In the loss, the Warhawks rushed for 103 yards, as top runningback Alex Jreige gained 72.

“We learned a lot from that game,” Madison head coach Justin Counts said.

Madison’s second game was a 49-21 home rout of the Lake Braddock Bruins, a perennial Class 6 playoff team. In the victory, the Warhawks exploded for 275 yards rushing, with Jreige gaining 151 and running for three touchdowns.

It was evident then that Madison’s 2021 offensive line again could be a physical group, helping Jreige and others chew up big chunks of yards on the ground and executing the necessary block schemes for quarterback Connor Barry to have success running on read-option plays.

That trend and domination up front continued entering the 6D North Region tournament championship game Nov. 27. The Warhawks averaged 198 yards rushing per game this season prior to that region final. 

“We all worked out in in the weight room a lot together and built good connections that way,” Boody said.

Jreige has gained 1,469 of those yards on the ground through the region final and scored 28 touchdowns.

“Our goal is always to get the running game going and get Alex more than 100 yards each game,” Sullivan said.

During one six-game stretch, the Warhawks rushed for 200 or more yards. The single-game high was that 275 yards coming against Lake Braddock, then there was 265 against Langley and 224 in a regular-season victory against Centreville. In the region final, Madison had 174 yards rushing.

“Our offensive line coach does a great job preparing the guys to know their assignments, for what to expect from defenses and making adjustments during games,” Counts said. “It’s a smart group.”

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