Raiders In Playoffs for 1st Time Since ’94
For the J.E.B. Stuart football Raiders, two things had to happen during the last Friday night of the regular season for them to qualify for the playoffs. They needed to defeat arch-rival Falls Church High School in the annual Bell Game, and they needed Hayfield to defeat Edison.
For their own part on Friday, Stuart did their job in convincing fashion, defeating Falls Church 42-7 at home. But suspense filled the air at Jerry Fauls Stadium towards the end of the game anyway, as the post-season fate of the Raiders hinged on Hayfield maintaining a late 21-7 lead over Edison. The lead withstood, and Stuart was able to celebrate making the playoffs for the first time since the 1994 District Championship team.
The change in on-field success has mirrored a change in attitude among players and fans. “A few years ago, nobody wore Stuart sweatshirts out in public. Now, you see them everywhere.”, says Head Coach Roy Ferri.
According to the head coach, this years success is credited to the fact that “they know what we (coaches) expect, and have tried to perform up to those standards”.
Stuart reclaimed the Bell from the Falls Church Jaguars after five consecutive losses in the rivalry stretching back to 2005.
The Raiders jumped to an early 14 point lead in the first quarter when Javonte Robinson teamed up with Mahdi Ibrahim on a 33 yard scoring pass. The Jaguars would respond with a touchdown of their own in the second quarter. But near the end of the half, Stuart scored again with a 25 yard strike from Robinson to Hunter Trumps to take a 21-7 lead at halftime.
Stuart then added three more touchdowns on a fumble recovery, a 27 yard run by Javonte Robinson, and a two yard plunge from fullback/safety Omar Daher in the third quarter to complete the scoring at 42-7.
Junior starting linebacker Mike Harris, took over placekicking duties three weeks ago and connected on all six of his point-after attempts for Stuart.
The Raiders finished the regular season 5-5, 4-3 in the National District, while Falls Church ended their season 2-8, with a 0-7 National District record.
Stuart is the 8th and final seed for the Northern Region and face the unbeaten top seed Stone Bridge. The Bulldogs have qualified for the playoffs all six seasons they have competed at the Division 5 level. Coach Ferri is confident his team has a chance to pull the upset. “We have a good game plan… we know what they’re going to do”.
He hopes for a strong turnout of fans for the Raiders’ first playoff appearnce in 16 years. “I can promise them, win or lose, they’ll be proud of our effort.”
Stuart plays Stone Bridge in the first round of the Northern Region playoffs at 7:30 P.M. this Friday, November 12 at Stone Bridge High School in Ashburn.