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July 24, 2013

Top Ten Countdown : Class 6A

4A Throughout the month of July, we'll begin previewing the 2013 football season by counting down the top ten teams in the state for each of the six classifications.

The state is going to look very different this year come playoff time.  All the programs in the state have been realigned based on their enrollment numbers and each classification has been divided into either North / South or East / West regions.

Sixteen teams from each region will advance to the postseason and the bracket will play down until there is one regional champion standing on each half of the state.  Those two champions will then meet to determine the state title.

CLASSIFICATION 6A
 1. TBD
Outlook
 2. TBD
Outlook
 3. Oscar Smith Tigers
Outlook: The last time that the Tigers were not one of the final eight teams standing in the state was 2003 as they've collected four regional championships and two state titles in the last six seasons.  Their defensive line this fall will include one five-star prospect in Andrew Brown and another likely five-star in junior Josh Sweat with a star-studded secondary featuring FCS prospects Lakwon Chapel and Monty Fenner.  The offense will feature BCS players Jaylen Bradshaw at wide receiver and Deshawn McClease at running back.  Coach Rich Morgan is not yet settled on his quarterback but the position seems almost academic given the surrounding talent.
 4. C.D. Hylton Bulldogs
Outlook:  Coach Tony Lilly has led the Bulldogs program back to elite status in the state notching double digit victory seasons in each of the past three years including a regional title and run to the state semifinals last season.  Quarterback Travon McMillian is one of the most dangerous offensive weapons in the state and he's joined by a stud receiving corps including Yannis Nguetta, Terrin Allen, Eric Kumah and DJ Wright.  There may be as many as a dozen Division FBS or FCS players on the roster this fall.
 5. Westfield Bulldogs
Outlook:  Back-to-back undefeated regular seasons has led to back-to-back disappointing losses in the Northern Region championship game but the periennial power from Chantilly has more than enough talent to make another run at a state title this season.  The offense will be explosive with wide receiver Devon Burns and running back Tyler Thrasher-Walker getting the bulk of the touches while a strong defensive front will be backed by an outstanding secondary headed up by safeties James Gibson and Donteiro Moore. 
 6. Lake Braddock Bruins
Outlook:  The Bruins have won seven or more games in all but one of the last six seasons and looked prime to put up big numbers this year with quarterback Caleb Henderson and wide receiver A.J. Alexander.  The last time that they were this talented, they won back-to-back regional titles and made a run to the championship game (2009).  If the defense plays just a notch better than they did last season, this group will climb the rankings.
 7. Varina Blue Devils
Outlook:  Always among the biggest and fastest teams in the state, the 2013 Blue Devils will once again feature an impressive list of seasoned varsity players including YaYa Konate, Herb Anderson, Khalil Randall, Donovan Dowling and Leander Cutler, among others.  Their schedule is rugged but they can handle anyone on it, or anyone in the state, when playing well.
 8. Colonial Forge Eagles
Outlook:  Coach Bill Brown annually has his teams ready for the postseason and the 2013 Eagles look like a team that can make a deep run in the playoffs.  Their offense, led by quarterback Damon Daniel and slot athlete Daniel Ezeagwu, will be lethal though a bit small.  Defensively, they'll play fast and fierce, as well.  The only question about the team will be how they perform against the other elites in the state as they do not appear to be on the same level as the top four or five.
 9. Stonewall Jackson Raiders
Outlook:  A one-point loss to Colonial Forge ended a dream season for the Raider last season as they were among the top contenders for a state title entering the postseason.  Quarterback Greg Stroman returns as perhaps the most prolific dual-threat signal caller in the state and junior defensive tackle Tim Settle could be among the top players in the nation this season.  If they can continue to build upon their 2012 momentum, the Raiders will be in the hunt once the postseason tourney kicks off.
10. Yorktown Patriots
Outlook:  After making a run to the Northern Region title game last year where they lost to Stone Bridge, the Patriots take a step up to Class 6A this year but should continue their winning ways, at least through the end of the regular season, if not into the playoffs.  Running back / Defensive back M.J. Stewart ranks among the best two-way players in the state.  They'll win a lot of games this season but are not likely to make a push for the 6A title.




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