Ridin’ The Pine: 0-3 start doesn’t bode well for Fauquier County football teams
After winning the Region II championship last season, Kettle Run fared no better than any other Fauquier County team in Week One this season -- all three squads lost. --Fauquier Times Staff Photo/Randy Litzinger
It was 2009, in case you’re wondering.
That’s the last time all three high school football teams in Fauquier County lost on the same weekend. Prior to this weekend, that is.
Fauquier lost to Loudoun County, 14-6, Friday, Kettle Run lost to Tuscarora, 31-21, Friday and Liberty lost to John Handley, 45-42, Saturday.
Last season began much differently. All three county teams enjoyed 2-0 starts and used those foundations to build playoff-qualifying resumes.
Now, pardon the pessimism, it’s not outrageous to think the opposite will happen in 2013. All three teams could fail to qualify for the playoffs this season after starting 0-1. There are myriad reasons.
Each squad has a new starter at quarterback and at other key positions. Only 16 of 27 teams in Kettle Run’s 3A East class will qualify for the region playoffs and only 16 of 28 teams in Fauquier and Liberty’s 4A North class will qualify. According to vhsl-reference.com, since 1999, 67 percent of teams that lose their first game of the season will miss the playoffs.
If county teams conform to that math one will make the 2013 playoffs, but a county shutout is certainly possible.
Of course, expecting two or all three county teams to miss the playoffs is an overreaction to one week of football. Plenty of teams have made the playoffs in recent years after beginning a season 0-1. Liberty did it in 2009, the last time all three county teams lost on the same weekend — a trifecta of Sept. 11, Sept. 25 and Oct. 23.
Even more comforting for Fauquier High, the Falcons have lost a Week One game three of the past four seasons and still made the playoffs twice in that span. In fact, the Falcons have a 4-9 Week One record since 2000.
“It’s just that first game historically for us has been a little lower-scoring,” Fauquier coach Jamie Carter said Friday.
Initially, I thought that was just an off-the-cuff remark by Carter but, sure enough, the Falcons have averaged only 11.1 points per game in their season-opener since 2000. And that number is actually skewed upward by a 52-6 victory in 2008. Disregard that score and Fauquier has averaged only 7.4 points per game during their season-opener since 2000.
It’s a fascinating statistic — 11.1, or 7.4 — that has no explanation I can find. But it also bodes well for Fauquier’s chances of improving in Week Two because, since 2000, the Falcons have gone on to finish each season with a scoring average of 23.5 points per game.
Additional hope: The Week One silver lining for Fauquier was its defense allowed only 14 points despite long spells on the field. Meanwhile, Liberty actually led by 21 points before losing to Handley, and Kettle Run scored 14 points in the final seven minutes to finish strong against a Tuscarora team that plays two classes (5A) above the Cougars.
So optimism is fine for now, but you’ll need rose-colored glasses if you’re looking at a 0-2 record after next week.
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