By Nick Poor & Ryan McCafferty
Falls Church, Justice, Meridian, and George C. Marshall high school will all begin their athletic seasons this month as students return to school. With six different fall sports playing across both genders, there will be plenty of action to follow this season.
Justice High School is the team to watch in the area. Last season they went 6-5 and won the National District Championship for the first time since 1994. Ranked 38th in their division entering the season by MaxPreps, they open their season against Thomas Edison at home on August 26th.
Entering 2022 Falls Church High School has a lot to prove, having been ranked 53rd out of 55 teams in Division 6A by MaxPreps. Led by junior quarterback Caleb West, the 2nd team all-district athlete will look to help the Jaguars improve from last season’s playoff-less 1-9 record.
Meridian looks to build off of a 10-3 record last fall, a season that ended with a 13-7 defeat at home to Brentsville. Head coach PJ Anderson and his squad will kick off on Friday, August 26th at Falls Church.
Last season Marshall football suffered their first losing season (5-6) since the 2017 season. Under head coach Jason Strickland the team has tallied an impressive 15-6 in-region record in his four seasons at the helm. Senior Nakia Wilson will lead the charge after averaging 152.6 rushing yards per game his junior year.
Marshall cheerleading opens their season on October 1st to compete in an invitational at Chantilly high school. Last season Whitney Booth and Iyesha Souiri finished with Class 6 All-State Second team honors. However, the two have graduated, leaving the reigning district champions with a hole to fill.
Meridian competitive cheerleading will open its season on Friday, August 26th at Falls Church.
Justice meanwhile will start their season later than most, with varsity cheerleading opening their season with a meet on October 17th at Hayfield High School.
Marshall Cross country will open with a meet against McLean on August 31st. The two teams will be led by Hayley Spoden (senior, finished 10th in state meet last season) and Sean Sanders (senior, finished 13th in state meet last season).
The first cross country meet for Justice high school boys and girls will be September 1st, with a meet at Mason Park. Last season Justice had one runner qualify for states, with now Penn State freshman Ryan Watson finishing fifth.
Both Meridian’s boys’ and girls’ cross country teams will begin their seasons on September 14th at Skyline High with a meet against multiple schools.
Falls Church XC will feature a rising star in Haley Heironimus. As a sophomore Heironimus finished with a 19:16.00 time at states, finishing 14th.
Justice is set to be one of the top teams in the region this year. An outstanding 19-2 season ended in disappointment last year for the Wolves. Justice fell to South County 4-3 in the regional quarterfinals in a triple overtime game despite entering as the number one seed. They will look to bounce back when they open their season next Monday against Meridian.
Meridian Field Hockey will open at Justice on Monday the 22nd, with head coach Anne Steenhoek’s squad looking to prove itself as a force to be reckoned with in the region.
Marshall Field Hockey will open on the 22nd at Alexandria City. They will move from 5A Conference 13 to the Liberty region for the 2022 season and going forward.
Falls Church will also be changing regions. This will be their first time competing in the National Region, and their schedule will feature a much longer 17 game season compared to last season’s three games, according to MaxPreps.
Justice Golf is off and running, hosting the 2022 National District Kickoff Tournament, where both boy’s and girl’s team’s competed. Their season will build towards the Occoquan 6C Regional Tournament on October 3rd.
Meridian’s golf squad has already begun its season with an August 8th match against William Monroe, and will be very busy throughout these next few weeks. Keith Bartlett looks to have his team near the top of what is sure to be a highly competitive region.
George C. Marshall’s co-ed team is rolling early in their season. They are off to a hot start with a 154-152 win over Washington Liberty on August 9th. The statesmen golf team will continue with a match against McLean this Thursday at Hidden Creek Golf Course.
Possibly the most intriguing sport in the Falls Church area this season will be girl’s volleyball. Each team in the area brings something intriguing to follow as their seasons go on this fall.
Marshall volleyball has been a dominant force in years past and will look to continue its winning ways this season. The Statesmen will look to make this year their ninth straight with a record above .500. Their season will open with a revenge match against James Madison, who defeated them 3-2 in last season’s opener.
Since 2007-2008 (the furthest back MaxPreps records go), Falls Church volleyball has only had one winning season. However, the program has begun to turn things around of late. Last year’s 9-10 record was a step in the right direction, and the Jaguars will get a chance to continue their growth when they open against King Abdullah Academy on August 30th.
Meridian Volleyball looks to bounce back from a disappointing 2021-22 season in which it failed to win a single game, going 0-7. Their season will open on Monday the 22nd at Washington-Liberty.
Following a pair of scrimmages this week, Justice will host Lake Braddock on August 30th to start their season. 25-7 last year, the Wolves will look to have back to back winning seasons for the first time since 2011-2013.
It is their 15th season under coach Sharon Ponton, and they are led by UMBC 2027 commit Helen Frankovich.