Mount Vernon’s Kofi Kwarteng runs during last year’s game against Hayfield. Kwarteng leads the Majors in receiving. (Lori Heltzel image)
In what looks to be a classic battle of speed versus speed, Hayfield travels to Mount Vernon on Friday night for the Gunston District opener for each team.
Mount Vernon is 5-0 for the second straight year, riding high behind an offense averaging 50 points per game. Hayfield is 4-1 and made a huge statement last week, rolling up nearly 500 yards of total offense in a last-second comeback victory over previously unbeaten Robinson 34-27.
The two teams are familiar with each other from seven-on-seven leagues, and both Hayfield coach Eric Henderson and Mount Vernon coach Monty Fritts say speed is what stands out most when they see each other play.
“They’re just really fast,” Fritts said of Hayfield. “That’s the first thing you see when you see them [on tape].”
Fritts, looking to lead Mount Vernon to the playoffs for the third straight year after taking over a program that had won two games in two years prior to his arrival, knows Hayfield presents a much bigger challenge than any opponent the Majors have faced this year. Last year the Hawks put up 63 points on Mount Vernon en route to dealing the Majors their first loss of the season.
Fritts said this year’s team is well aware of the history, and knows they’ll need to step up against Hayfield and other Gunston District teams.
“No disrespect to [our early season opponents], but Hayfield, T.C. [Williams] and West Potomac are much better than the five teams we’ve beaten,” Fritts said. “At the end of the day it’s going to be a completely different test on Friday.”
Henderson doesn’t play down his team’s explosive potential, and said the Hawks have a chip on their shoulder after being picked to finish third in the district by some. Henderson called his defense the fastest he’s had at Hayfield, with even the lineman capable of chasing down plays from behind.
Last week’s win was validation for the hard work the Hawks have put in, Henderson said, and shows the program is reaching another level.
“It’s a huge confidence builder,” Henderson said. “Hayfield usually doesn’t compete with the elite teams in the western part of the county.”
On Friday the Hawks will need to slow down a potent Mount Vernon rushing attack, led by junior quarterback Fonnae Webb and junior running back Jordyn Reid, who have combined for 19 rushing touchdowns. Webb is averaging 14.8 yards per carry in Mount Vernon’s new run-first attack, while Reid is averaging 8.4 yards per rush.
The Majors can still throw the ball too, with senior receiver Kofi Kwarteng leading Mount Vernon with 18 receptions and eight touchdowns.
Hayfield also has an abundance of weapons on offense, and like Mount Vernon features a quarterback who has proven to be a threat on the ground and through the air. Chase Soper, who played at Lake Braddock last season, has seven TDs passing and six rushing. Henderson praised his QB for his toughness, and said his ability to learn a new offense in a short time has made a huge difference for the Hayfield attack.
“He’s a good, fundamentally sound quarterback,” Henderson said. “He’s smart and has taken to the offense quickly.”
Senior wideout Rayjuon Pringle, who caught the game-winner against Robinson last week, has stepped out from the shadow of the graduated Brian Cobbs to become a big-play threat for the Hawks. Pringle has 28 catches for 428 yards and four TDs on the season, and opponents have trouble double-covering him because other Hawk receivers like Tim Drummond-Higgins (19 catches) or Scott Woods (15 catches) are just as capable.
“They have really good wide receivers,” Fritts said. “They do a good job stretching you over the whole field.”
Note: In other local games, West Potomac (2-3) hosts T.C. Williams (2-3), while Edison (3-2) travels to Justice (4-1). All games are at 7 p.m.