1947 Occoquan High School football team

The 1947 Occoquan High School football team coached by Herb Saunders (third row far left)


Oct. 13: Under the direction of coaches Charles Litwin and Herb Saunders, the county’s first high school football team opens the season in Front Royal with a 27-15 loss to Warren County. Osbourn wins one game that season.


The Manassas State Vocational School plays its first season. Herb Saunders forms the program and is the head coach. MSVS goes 1-6. The one victory comes in the team’s final game of the season against cross-town rival Osbourn 14-3.

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Occoquan High School (which later becomes Gar-Field) fields the first football team on the county’s east end. Herb Saunders starts the program there and is the head coach, while also serving as the school’s principal. Occoquan wins its last game of the season to finish 1-6.

Oct. 17: The county’s first night game takes place under the lights when Osbourn beats Falmouth 27-6. Nearly 1,300 fans are in attendance as the Yellow Jackets’ Alby Conners rushes for 146 yards on 15 carries and scores two touchdowns.

Jim Leo is Osbourn’s coach. The football stadium at the current Osbourn is named after Leo, who goes on to become the first superintendent of schools for the City of Manassas.


Nov. 25: On Thanksgiving Day, Osbourn beats Gar-Field 54-12 to receive the first-ever Journal Messenger Trophy. The trophy is awarded to the winner of the season-ending game until 1965 when new varsity football teams at Woodbridge and Stonewall Jackson begin play.


Nov. 13: Osbourn becomes the first county team to go 10-0 when it defeats Gar-Field 26-13. Running back Ron Cebula, who leads the team with seven touchdowns and 59 total points, and center Ron Reedy are named all-Battlefield District. The team is coached by Bill Holsclaw, who wins over 130 games in a 25-year coaching career that finishes at Woodbridge.


Brentsville High School fields its first varsity team under first-year head coach Don Lambert. Lambert leads the Tigers for 24 seasons. Brentsville’s football stadium is named after him.

The county’s longest continuous rivalry begins with Woodbridge beating Gar-Field 20-6. The winner of the series eventually becomes the recipient of the Herb Saunders trophy.


First year county schools are fully integrated. Among those leaving Jennie Dean are Rodney Warren, the county’s first prep all-american, to Osbourn and Calvin Johnson, who becomes an all-state player at Gar-Field.


Nov. 10: Gar-Field becomes the first east-end high school to post a 10-0 record following a 27-6 win over Woodbridge to clinch the inaugural Group 1-B Monument District title. Led by all-state seniors Mel Meadows and Calvin Johnson, Gar-Field outscores its opponents 357-12 and records eight straight shutouts before allowing a touchdown to Osbourn with 19 seconds left in the ninth game of the season. Meadows, who finishes with 98 total tackles, signs with Purdue. Johnson scores 16 touchdowns and leads the league with 96 points. Johnson goes on to play for Delaware State.

Bill Brown, a future Virginia High School League Hall of Fame inductee who began the programs at Potomac and Hylton, was also a member of 1967 Gar-Field team.

At that time, there is no postseason for teams in Gar-Field’s classification.


Woodbridge’s Jim Homeyer and Gar-Field’s Vern Washington become the first running backs in each school’s history to rush for over 1,000 yards in a season. Homeyer finishes with 1,276 yards and Washington finishes with 1,088.


Nov. 8: Unbeaten at 9-0 and ranked among the top 10 Group AAA teams in the state, Gar-Field and host Woodbridge play before the largest crowd ever to watch a county game. An estimated 14,000 to 15,000 people are in attendance as top-ranked Woodbridge beats the Indians 27-16 to win the Commonwealth District title and advance to the playoffs. Vikings are coached by Red Stickney, who leaves Woodbridge in 1975 to become an assistant at Virginia Tech. Gar-Field is coached by Bob Pruett, who eventually becomes the Marshall University head coach, where he won the 1996 Division I-AA championship.

Nov. 30: Woodbridge all-American running back Russell Davis sets a still-standing Group AAA single-game playoff record when he rushes for 384 yards in a 35-12 state semifinal win over Lee-Davis.

Dec. 7: Woodbridge becomes first county team to play for a state championship. The Vikings (12-1) lose to Bethel 24-21. Bethel scores the game-winner with 55 seconds remaining after regaining possession when Woodbridge fumbles on its own 4-yard line.


Jim Powell begins his first year as Stonewall Jackson High School’s head coach. Powell remains in that position for 26 years, making him the county’s longest tenured head football coach ever. Powell goes 140-125-4 and leads the Raiders to nine playoff appearances.


Nov. 30: In a state semifinal against Edison, Chuck Coles, a 16-year-old Potomac High School wide receiver and defensive back, collapses in the end zone after running a pass pattern during the game. He was later pronounced dead, the victim of a congenital heart defect. Potomac’s football stadium is named after Coles and his jersey number 23 is retired.


Twenty-two years after all the county’s public schools were fully integrated, Woodbridge’s Ron Davis begins his first season as Prince William’s first African-American high school head football coach. Davis, a former defensive coordinator under Bill Holsclaw who began his coaching career at Woodbridge in 1977, leads the Vikings for 13 seasons, going 89-53 and reaching the playoffs eight times.

Potomac High School begins its three-year, 24-game Commonwealth District winning streak with a 41-7 win over James Wood.


Dec. 8: Gar-Field becomes the county’s first state champion in football after winning the Group AAA Division 6 title with a 13-12 victory over Hampton. The victory caps a stunning turnaround for a team that went 2-8 the year before. The Indians finish 12-2 under second-year head coach Chuck White, a Woodbridge High School graduate. Senior running back LaTroy Askew is Gar-Field’s go-to player, rushing for 1,286 yards and scoring 24 total touchdowns.


Dec. 5: Hylton wins the first of its two straight Group AAA Division 6 state titles with a 21-13 victory over Varina to finish 14-0. The Bulldogs break a 7-7 tie after D.J Walton rushes for two scores in the final six minutes. The victory gives head coach Bill Brown his first state championship in his fourth state-title game appearance.


Dec. 4: Hylton beats Varina again to claim the Division 6 state title with a 28-27 win. The Bulldogs (14-0) rally from a 27-7 halftime deficit. Quarterback Kenny Irby connects with Ahmad Brooks on a 30-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter for the eventual game-winning points. Irby finishes the game with one rushing touchdown and two passing touchdowns. Hylton finishes the season ranked No. 13 nationally by USA Today.


Nov. 3: Potomac snaps host Hylton’s 39-game winning streak with a 29-19 win. At least 10,000 people attend the game that feature two teams with unbeaten records and rank among the top six in the state (Hylton No. 1, Potomac No. 6). Coming in, Hylton holds an 11-1 record over the Panthers. Had Hylton won, it would have tied the VHSL record for most consecutive victories.


Dec. 14: Under first-year head coach Lou Sorrentino, Hylton (13-1) wins its third state title with a 6-0 win over Oakton. Defensively, Jono Petrovitch has a team-high 10 tackles, while Endor Cooper adds nine tackles. Jeff Overton scores the game’s lone touchdown off a 5-yard run in the third quarter.


Dec. 11: Manassas Park wins the Group A Division 2 state title with a 20-13 win over Powell Valley. Senior quarterback Zach Terrell totals 394 yards of offense and accounts for two touchdowns as the Cougars finish 14-0.


Nov. 26: Hylton High School wins its Northwest Region-record eighth straight title with a 35-27 win over visiting Osbourn.


Dec. 9: Osbourn wins the Group AAA Division 6 state title with a 42-20 win over Chantilly. Senior quarterback Brandon Hogan generates 391 total yards and has a hand in all six touchdowns as the Eagles finish 14-0 to claim the school’s only state title since joining Group AAA in 1996.


Dec. 11: Battlefield wins the Group AAA Division 6 state title with a 26-7 win over previously undefeated Hermitage to finish 13-2. It is the school’s first state title in any sport since opening in 2004. Bobo Beathard totals 106 all-purpose yards, while the defense totals nine sacks.


Under third-year head coach David Coccoli, Forest Park posts its first winning record and earns its first postseason berth in school history. Forest Park, which opened in 2000, finishes 9-4 and reaches the third round of the 6A South playoffs.

Freedom, which opened in 2004, also reaches the postseason for the first time in school history.


Aug. 28: Forest Park quarterback Nathan Perrin throws for a county-record 408 yards in the Bruins 55-49 overtime loss to Patriot.

Aug. 29: Brentsville ends county’s longest losing streak at 39 games with a 12-7 win over host Manassas Park. Coming into the season, the Tigers’ losing streak is tied for seventh all-time in state history.

Sept. 26: Hylton freshman running back Ricky Slade ties state record for most touchdowns in a game when he scores eight in a 66-41 win over Patriot.

(1) comment

Geoff Brown

I attended the three Woodbridge games mentioned for 1974. I remember attending the G-F win in 1990 and the Hylton win in 1999. That being said, the 1978 Gar-Field team losing to Hampton in the state finals should have been mentioned. As a unit, it may have had the best defensive in the past 75 years.

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