The Washington Post

Warhawks continue last season’s push



Last season was almost like a dream for the Madison Warhawks. A condensed campaign held in the spring under unpreceden­ted circumstan­ces, it was both strange and fleeting. And it was mostly delightful.

In just six games, Madison finished the regular season undefeated, just the second time it had accomplish­ed such a feat in the program’s 62-year history. An impressive playoff run followed, and Madison ended the season a touchdown away from reaching the Class 6 state title game.

This fall, Madison is trying to keep its dream alive. On Friday night, it preserved the positive vibes by completing a 41-0 rout of Yorktown in front of a sizable and spirited crowd in Vienna.

“Last year was a big push for us,” senior running back Alex Jreige said. “And we ended on such a good note that the momentum has really carried over.”

Any hopes of fully repeating last year’s success were quashed quickly; the Warhawks (2-1) were shut out in a season-opening loss to local powerhouse Stone Bridge on Aug. 27. But much of the energy of last season, which ended in late April, still remains. Not only did Madison have a short offseason, but it returned several key pieces from last year’s squad, most notably Jreige and senior quarterbac­k Connor Barry.

“We created something new last year,” Barry said. “And the seniors last year had a huge impact on how we feel about ourselves and the team we are today.”

But the two seasons somewhat blending into one brought both positive and negative effects. For the young players who were expected to help replace graduated seniors, Warhawks Coach Justin Counts worried about their ability to adjust without a full offseason. After three games, that’s still a work in progress.

However, the circumstan­ces also mean the window for success was never closed by the standard nine months of waiting. It looked wide open for the Warhawks as they put together three dominant quarters Friday night against the Patriots (2-1).

“We got to see what state playoff football looks like last year,” Counts said. “Now we know. And there’s a real excitement because we have a similar team back. We want to use that excitement to keep getting better.”

Friday’s game began like a nightmare for the Warhawks, who fumbled the ball three different ways in the first quarter: a backward pass that was dropped, a punt that was errantly touched and a ball that was knocked out of Jreige’s arms.

But the running back helped his team get on the board and regain composure, rushing for two of his three touchdowns in the second quarter to give the Warhawks a comfortabl­e lead that their punishing defense was happy to protect. By halftime, they led by 27.

“At the beginning of each game, everybody has the excitement and everybody has the nerves,” Jreige said. “But soon enough we settle in and we know we can do it.”

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