After seeing its eight-game winning streak against Bull Run District foes snapped last week, the Clarke County football team’s situation doesn’t get any easier on Friday.
The Eagles (2-1, 0-1 district) host Strasburg (3-1, 0-0) at 7 p.m. in their first contest since Clarke County suffered a 21-14 loss to Central. The Falcons scored 21 unanswered points to rally from a 14-0 halftime deficit against the Eagles.
The Rams have yet to suffer a loss on the field. They forfeited their season-opener at home to Skyline because of a social media threat. Since then, they’ve ripped off wins over Broadway (27-6), Warren County (33-13) and Moorefield (W.Va.), which the Rams beat 40-0 last week.
Eagles coach Casey Childs said his team is ready to go.
“I told the kids Friday night, and I meant it, we played so hard,” Childs said. “We just didn’t catch many breaks in the second half. We got behind the chains with some pretty unfortunate penalties, and we just didn’t make two plays — one on defense (a play-action completion in a long-yardage situation), one on offense (a dropped pass) — that we typically make. That was pretty much the difference in the game.
“Our kids are resilient. They’re young, and they’re going to play hard.”
Clarke County has won nine straight games against the Rams. The Eagles won 22-12 last year after making up an early 6-0 deficit, scoring 15 points in the last 6:06 of the first half for a 15-6 halftime lead. Kyler Darlington rushed for 119 yards on 23 carries and scored all three of Clarke County’s touchdowns in the game.
Strasburg coach Mark Roller hopes this is the year the Rams end their skid to the Eagles.
“It gets to the point where I think the kids, they forget about or don’t really know about what happened a while back,” Roller said. “They know what’s happened the last couple years, and they always want to beat Clarke County.
“I think that’s the big thing of that rival — wanting to win and against a quality opponent, too. We haven’t beaten them too many times, a few but not enough. So, I think our guys are ready for that.”
The Eagles have given up 190 and 218 yards rushing in their last two games against Skyline and Central, respectively, and this week they’ll go up against Strasburg, which is averaging 284.7 yards per game on the ground with its T-formation offense.
Childs noted that the Falcons were older and bigger up front than the Eagles, and feels like his team will match up a little better size-wise this week.
“[Strasburg is] not as big as Central, but they move really well on both sides [of the ball],” Childs said. “They get off the football well.”
The Rams’ offense is led by running backs Braden Stern (24 carries, 285 yards, four TDs) and Takhi Coates (27 carries, 215 yards, three TDs) and quarterback Ryan Roller (139 yards and three TDs rushing, 5-of-13 for 85 yards, one TD, two interceptions).
“They’re a quick-hitting offense with dives, counters, traps and pitches,” Childs said. “They’ve got good skill kids. They’re fast.”
Clarke County’s defense features linebackers Carson Chinn (44 tackles) and Wyatt Palmer (31 tackles) and defensive end Kyler McKenzie (22 tackles, two sacks).
The Eagles’ offense is led by Darlington (54 carries, 308 yards, six TDs, 119 yards and one TD receiving) and quarterback Matthew Sipe (142 yards and one TD rushing, 16-of-23 for 236 yards, two TDs and one interception). Strasburg’s defense is led by linebacker Colby Shaw (34 tackles, including nine for a loss) and defensive end Walker Conrad (19 tackles, eight for a loss, three sacks, two forced fumbles).
Childs said a key component of the game will be avoiding the types of penalties that hurt the Eagles in the second half of the loss to Central.
“We had multiple big runs called back because of penalties that put us in first-and-18, or second-and-17,” Childs said. “Those things can’t happen. We have to stay ahead of the chains this Friday for us to have success.”
— The Northern Virginia Daily’s Tommy Keeler Jr. contributed to this story.