Prince William News
Wed., Nov. 14 - The Battlefield varsity football team rebounded from its worst regular season in six years this past Friday by shutting out visiting Woodbridge 17-0 in Haymarket during the first round of the Northwest Region playoffs.
Bobcats take first playoff game, 17-0
© Gainesville TimesOne down, four to go.
The Battlefield varsity football team rebounded from its worst regular season in six years this past Friday by shutting out visiting Woodbridge 17-0 in Haymarket during the first round of the Northwest Region playoffs.
Defending their three consecutive regional crowns, the Bobcats opted for a run-heavy attack and limited senior quarterback Ryan Swingle to throwing only when absolutely necessary.
That allowed senior running back Austin Thibodeaux to pound the rock 18 times for 160 yards, according to statistics provided by Battlefield, helping the home team set up both of its touchdowns.
He led Battlefield in rushing the previous two weeks too, picking up picking up 80 yards on 10 carries against Patriot during the regular season finale and 59 yards on 12 carries during homecoming versus North Stafford.
Prior to that, his backfield classmate Joe Walker split time with him and led Battlefield's rushing attack last on Oct. 19 at home playing Broad Run.
"Austin has been getting better each week. His vision has improved and he is using his blockers better," wrote head coach Mark Cox in an e-mail. "We usually rotate Austin and Joe and whoever is doing better, stays in more. It may be Joe this week."
Senior wide receiver Nick Newman shifted into the backfield too and took a single hand-off all game.
It turned out to be a big one.
From three yards away from pay-dirt during the first quarter, he followed blockers Thibodeaux and senior Blaine Varley over the plane to pick up the Bobcats' first touchdown on the day.
An extra kick by Connor Feehan gave BHS a 7-0 advantage with 7:08 on the clock.
Though Newman often serves as a blocker on plays like that, the Battlefield coaches opted to mix up their play calling and catch Woodbridge off-guard on that play and again later in the second quarter.
"Nick is always in the backfield on short yardage and goal line" plays, wrote head coach Mark Cox in an e-mail. "He is always blocking, so we decided to give him the ball and it worked."
According to Swingle, giving an all-around athlete like Newman the ball "with two lead blockers is a pretty good way to get him into the end zone."
During the final three minutes of the first half, Battlefield opted for its second surprise attack of the game, this time catching Woodbridge completely flat-footed.
Swingle first noticed the Vikings' corner backs were playing in on the line to prevent the Bobcats' relentless running game.
So he handed off the ball to Walker, who then slung it back to the QB with enough time for Swingle to connect a 26-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Charles Hussor.
The play not only fooled Woodbridge but it actually caught Cox by surprise too.
"I did not know the flea flicker was coming," wrote the coach "When I ask Coach (Mark) Johnson for a play, I trust what the play is. I like a lot of input from my assistants and we have a lot of fun. Coach Johnson always has something up his sleeve."
When asked about why the offense opted to use the pitch-and-throw at that particular moment, Swingle replied, "It was just kind of one of those plays that we've been working on and we've kept in our back pocket all season."
As for Hussor, who usually does not receive a lot of press or pass attention, "He's Steady Eddy," said Swingle, praising his receiver's "good hands" down field.
During the last month, Hussor has caught only three passes, but his last one gave Battlefield a 14-0 advantage just before half time.
The Bobcats' defense came up big in the second half as the two teams played to a draw aside from a 30-yard Feehan field goal in the third quarter.
Varley crashed the center of Woodbridge's line to stop the Vikings in Bobcat territory on a fourth down play that essentially sealed Battlefield's victory.
Overall, Battlefield ran four times as many rushing plays (32) as passing (8) with Thibodeaux picking up all but three of the Bobcats' 163 yards on the ground.
Meanwhile, Swingle broke the 100-yard mark on the day passing with a six-for-eight performance.
"If you are having success running the ball and you have a lead, why throw the ball?" Cox asked rhetorically. "Control the clock and get points is our philosophy. If we have to throw 30 times we will, but we prefer to mix it up. We were without (sophomore) Corey Parker at receiver. He will be back this week."
Battlefield enters familiar territory this Friday night in Woodbridge against semi-final host Hylton.
This marks the third consecutive year Battlefield has played the Bulldogs on their home field during the regional tournament.
It is also the third time in a row the Bobcats face the Bulldogs after losing to them during the regular season.
Hylton this year does not enter the post-season undefeated unlike previous years, sporting an 8-2 record to Battlefield's 8-3 mark with an extra week off.
During the regular season, Hylton outscored its opposition by a combined 319 to 99, shutting out three teams in the process, including Battlefield on Aug. 31.
"It's hard to tell how it's going to be now but I think we definitely have a chance to pull it off for a third straight year in a row," said Swingle.
Game time on Nov. 16 is set for 7:30 p.m. C.D. Hylton High School is located at 14051 Spriggs Road in Woodbridge.