Playoff Preview: Westfield vs Chantilly
Photo By: Dave Bernhardt / Gameday Magazine
Photo By: Marc Gold / Gameday Magazine
Photo By: Marc Gold / Gameday Magazine
CHANTILLY, VA - It is said often by coaches that beating a team twice in the same season is very difficult. If that is true, then Westfield has its work cut out on Friday when (8-3) Chantilly makes the two mile trip across town for the second round of the Northern Region Playoffs.
The Bulldogs are (9-2), and dispelled of the Chargers quickly in week four of the regular season 32-7. In that meeting, the game was tied late in the first half, but Westfield scored with a few minutes left to take a 14-7 lead into the locker room.
Big plays and turnovers turned out to be the difference in the second half as Westfield pulled away with the win. However, Chantilly learned from that defeat, and as the season progressed, the Chargers became more balanced on offense. In addition, Chantilly went back to trusting in tailback Torrian Pace, who has turned in one of the great seasons we've seen in the Northern Region running the football.
Pace has run for 25 touchdowns, and has rushed for over 300 yards twice in the past 6 weeks. Last week against Annandale, Pace accounted for nearly 400 yards of total offense and 5 touchdowns in a 47-38 win.
Westfield on the other hand stumbled late in the year with two consecutive losses. But that is ancient history after the Bulldogs put away Centreville and Herndon in the last two weeks.
The Bulldogs have their own answer to Pace on offense in the form of Jordon Anderson. Anderson has been a man among boys this season, rushing for 25 touchdowns, 1,795 yards, and has averaged 8.8 yards per carry. His tough running has given quarterback Danny Fenyak time to develop into one of the area's best passers. Fenyak has thrown 17 touchdowns this season and run for another 3 behind center.
Most in attendance in the first bout between Westfield and Chantilly would agree that Fenyak was the difference. The Chargers limited Anderson in the running game, but that opened up Fenyak's ability to throw down the field. He did so often, and Chantilly didn't have an answer to stop it.
The big question for me is, what did Chantilly learn from the first meeting? I thought the game got out of reach when Chantilly went away from Pace and the running game, but falling behind will do that to most teams.
Two weeks later though, Chantilly stuck to the running game against Oakton after trailing 17-0. They nearly came back to win, falling short 17-15. That lesson had to be learned from the Westfield game, and that is what should make this contest much more interesting.
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Chantilly Secondary vs Westfield Passing Attack
Both defenses are built to take away the run, but Chantilly showed some vulnerability against the pass in the first meeting between these two teams. They have to shore that up on Friday if they want to play another day. With Jordon Anderson running the football, that makes it tough for the Chargers. The key for the Chargers is to limit the big play down the field. They did a pretty good job of that in the 1st half of the regular season contest, but things got out of reach when Evan Winfrey caught a 5 yard out route and raced for a score down the sideline. That can't happen on Friday if Chantilly wants to win this game. One thing that will help Chantilly defend the pass better on Friday is if they can get pressure on Bulldog quarterback Danny Fenyak. Westfield is balanced on offense, and that will give Chantilly fits in this one once again......Advantage.....Westfield
Westfield Run Defense vs Chantilly Run Offense:
This is where the game will be won or lost if you ask me. The Chargers had success the first time around running the football, but they went away from their gameplan too early. They won't do that on Friday, and expect Torrian Pace to get at least 30 carries in this game. That spells trouble for Westfield because Pace is too hard to hold in check all game long. The other thing that will happen because of Chantilly's commitment to the run is the game will become shorter. The Chargers will chew the clock and try to keep Fenyak and crew off the field, which will limit their opportunities to score. The Chargers are a different team than in week 4, and Westfield better get ready for a 12 round knockdown heavyweight fight. If Chantilly sticks with Pace, they are going to be tough to stop in this game.......Advantage ......Chantilly
KEYS TO VICTORY:
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Make Chantilly Play From Behind
Get Anderson In The Flow Early
Hit The Big Plays When They Are There
BELIEVE YOU CAN WIN!
Stick With The Game Plan On Offense
Don't Give Up The Big Play
I've covered every Chantilly/Westfield game since 2006, and they have usually been very close. This year's 32-7 regular season win for Westfield was an anomaly, and Chantilly is looking to prove it so this Friday night. This game will be intense, the fans will be out in full force, and the atmosphere will be second to none. As far as I'm concerned, they should play this game twice every year! Here's how I see this one going. The Bulldogs and Chargers are really pretty similar teams, with two big differences. Westfield is more balanced on offense, and Chantilly doesn't have much confidence in beating the Bulldogs. With that being said, the Chargers have done it before in the playoffs, and that experience has to be the rally cry in the hallways this week. It is still their only win over Westfield, but another one Friday would put this rivalry to a new level.
The Chargers will win this game if they don't fall behind, and if they feed their horse Torrian Pace at least two dozen times. If Westfield jumps on them like they did in the first game, the score could look like the first outcome when the Bulldogs won 32-7. I think this game will be different though primarily because of what I saw when Chantilly came from behind against Oakton. They learned how to execute in the passing game that night, and tight end Mike Ryan became a favorite target of Roger Strittmatter. The Chargers must not become one dimensional on Friday, and Westfield will do everything they can to make them that way. Based on what I saw in the first meeting, Westfield believes they can win this game every time the two see each other, and Chantilly has yet to get to that point mentally. This game will be closer, but I like Westfield to win in the end to setup a rematch against top ranked Oakton next week.
Westfield - 24
Chantilly - 17