Big potential exists for the Yorktown Patriots in high-school football this season, and the team’s longtime head coach Bruce Hanson, usually very cautious about such matters, is not in denial.
A roster that includes 27 seniors – many returning starters or players from last year’s 6-5 playoff team that was second in the Liberty District at 4-1 – is a big reason for the optimism.
“I usually don’t like to say this, but we are real enthusiastic about how we are looking right now,” said Hanson, entering his 34th year as the team’s coach. “We have a real good senior class, but we have to stay healthy. That’s a big thing.”
Yorktown opens its season at home on Friday, Sept. 6 at 7 p.m. against Wilson of Washington, D.C. The Patriots play the host Wakefield Warriors in an all-Arlington clash in week two, Sept. 13 at 7 p.m.
Leading Yorktown’s offense is senior quarterback Grant Wilson, who Hanson believes is the “best quarterback in the state.” He was the Sun Gazette’s Offensive Player of the Year in 2018.
Wilson is a top passer with a strong arm. As a result, Yorktown expects to throw the ball well again. What excites Hanson, is he expects the Patriots to have a much more potent ground attack, which will prevent opposing defenses from concentrating on just defending the pass.
“We have a lot of running backs, so running the ball will help a lot,” Hanson said.
Runningbacks include Ta’jaun Perry-Elem, Pius Atubire, Charlie Rowe, Han Miller and Christian Mulumba, also a two-way lineman.
Max Patterson is the top returning wide receiver along with Brendan Rindfusz and Evan Rotker. Ben Porter and Seth Roberts are other receivers.
Returning to the offensive line is Charlie Connally, who was injured last season. Mulumba, Dylan Hopper, Eamon Schmidt, Robert Bowman and Sam Richardson are other linemen.
Jonah Garufi returns as the place-kicker and punter, and Patterson is the kick returner.
Hanson expects Yorktown’s defense to be improved from a year ago. Mulumba will be a starting lineman for that unit along with ends John Pius and Henry Sargent. Linebackers are Richardson, Rowe, Rotker, Colby Distaso, Tom Brady, Jake Morgan and Aidan Burnside.
The defensive backfield will include Patterson, Rindfusz, Atubire, Brady, Porter Landefeld, Tyler Ege and Robert Gay.
Yorktown had two successful preseason scrimmages the last week weeks against perennial power Stone Bridge, then against Chantilly.
NOTES: Yorktown has finished second in the Liberty District with 4-1 records the past two seasons behind South Lakes . . . Hanson begins the season with 258 career victories in 40 years as a head coach . . . There are 150 players in the entire football program for Yorktown this fall. Hanson remembers his first year at Yorktown when there were just 29 players total for varsity and junior varsity. “Our program is in great shape right now as far as numbers.”
SCHEDULE: Friday, Sept. 6 vs. Wilson, 7 p.m.; Friday, Sept. 13 at Wakefield, 7; Friday, Sept. 20 vs. Mount Vernon, 7; Friday, Sept. 27 at Hayfield, 7; Friday, Oct. 4 vs. Edison, 7; Friday, Oct. 11 at McLean, 7; Friday, Oct. 18 at Langley, 7; Friday, Oct. 25 vs. Herndon, 7; Friday, Nov. 1 vs. South Lakes, 7; Friday, Nov. 8 at Washington-Liberty, 7.