Sports

F.C. Jaguars Lose to Hawks, Still Eye District Play

The Falls Church High School football team’s 34-13 loss to Hayfield last week is not indicative of the type of season the squad has enjoyed. DSC_0405

The Falls Church High School football team’s 34-13 loss to Hayfield last week is not indicative of the type of season the squad has enjoyed.

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MARCUS HUGHES, NO. 4, has helped fuel a comeback for the Jaguars this season. (Photo: Lou Emery/News-Press)

Actually, the Jaguars have been having one of their more successful campaigns with a 4-5 record and a shot at their first trip to the playoffs in more than a quarter century.

“Senior leadership is good this year,” said Falls Church Head Coach Anthony Parker. “We were shocked at how bad we started off. Then it came around. They stayed with it and they believed in themselves, that we were going to start getting some wins. It finally came around.”

The Jaguars went 1-9 last season, and started this year 1-4. Then the team turned a corner, rattling off three straight victories before falling to Hayfield.

Parker credits the play of senior running back Marcus Hughes as key to the team’s turn around.

“We got behind Marcus,” said the coach. “Earlier this year, he was getting 17 carries, and we were trying to do what we did in the past and throw the football, and then we realized we needed to get his carries up. Once we got them up to over 25, we went on a three-game winning streak.”

Hughes has been sensational, scoring 16 touchdowns this season while rumbling for more than 1,500 yards.

However, Hughes is quick to credit others for paving the way for him.

“I appreciate all the love I’ve been getting lately, but I feel like at the same time, my line has been doing an outstanding job,” said Hughes after the loss to Hayfield, during which he had 82 yards on 23 carries. “I’ve just been doing my job to make sure their blocks are not in vain.”

Hughes also gives a lot of credit to the seniors on the team for stepping up this season and instilling a winning attitude.

“I think this year we have a lot of seniors who came back,” said the running back. “Almost the whole team is seniors. We have a lot of positive leadership that came back. Those guys make a difference.”

Sitting at 4-5 with one game remaining, the Jaguars will need some help getting into the postseason. According to Parker, the team is looking for its first playoff berth since 1982.

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JAGUARS NO. 8, AJAY KASHYUP. (Photo: Lou Emery/News-Press)

“It would be huge,” said the coach. “It would mean a lot to our community. Though we’ve struggled for 25 years, they’ve always supported us. It would mean a lot to them. The seniors, it would mean a lot to those guys. We’re a senior heavy team. And hopefully it’ll mean a lot to our young guys, to get those guys going and think that the culture is changing.”

Though to get to the postseason, the team can’t have a repeat performance of how they played against Hayfield. The Hawks jumped out to a 21-0 lead by halftime and never looked back.

“We knew coming in that they were going to score and we had to match their scoring,” said Parker. “Spotting them 21-0 in the first half was not what we had planned on doing. We didn’t match their scoring until the second half.”

Against Hayfield (7-2), Falls Church was unable to get their running game in gear, which had carried them during the winning streak.

“They were physical up front and stopped the running game,” said Parker. “We’ve been a passing team in the past, so we weren’t afraid to pass the ball against them, we just didn’t know they were going to force us to pass the ball. It didn’t work out for us. We couldn’t run the ball, and that’s kind of what we’ve been doing.”

Falls Church quarterback Ajay Kashyap was 13 for 19 for 171 yards and two touchdowns in the losing effort.

Hughes was critical of his team’s preparation for the game.

“I felt like we’ve had good nights, and tonight just wasn’t a good night for us,” he said. “I think during practice, a lot of us were loafing, and it just took over. We weren’t ready to play out here today. We’ve been ready to play before. We just weren’t ready.

“We could have worked harder,” he continued. “We did work hard, but we could have worked a whole lot harder. We shouldn’t have been messing around as much as we were. I think some of those wins got to our head.”

The Jaguars’ final regular season is at home on Friday, Nov. 6, against Stuart.

“It’s going to take a lot of heart and a lot of determination, a lot of work in practice,” said Hughes when asked the keys to victory. “We’re going to work as hard as we can so we can prevent something like this (loss to Hayfield) from happening again.”

And what would a playoff berth mean?

“It would mean everything,” Hughes said. “It would mean the world to me and my teammates. Now we got to go out and work our butts off.”