STRASBURG — Since a loss at home to Page County in its Bull Run District opener on Sept. 27, Strasburg’s football team has rolled to comfortable wins over district foes Rappahannock County and East Rockingham over the last two weeks.
Another game in which the Rams should be heavy favorites awaits Strasburg this week. The Rams, who have outscored their opponents 108-6 over the past two games, travel to Madison County to take on the winless Mountaineers tonight.
“We’re certainly just taking it one game at a time and week-to-week,” Rams head coach Mark Roller said on Wednesday. “Anything can happen. We kind of talked about if you’re not on your A game then anybody can sneak up on you. I think we’re sitting in a place now where our guys realize that and they’re not willing to have a letdown. Practice has been good. Leadership has really been good. Kids are getting after it at practice. I think for us, just the key to moving forward is to keep the positive atmosphere that we have going on.”
Strasburg’s most recent win came in a 39-6 romp at home over East Rock, a team that was a Class 2 state semifinalist last season but is undergoing a rebuild after heavy graduation losses. The Rams (5-1, 2-1 Bull Run) were outgained 277-264 in that game but had three interceptions and thrived on big plays, scoring five touchdowns of 29 yards or more.
Madison County, meanwhile, is coming off a 30-27 loss to Stonewall Jackson, which dropped the Mountaineers to 0-6 overall and 0-3 in district play under first-year coach Jon Rasnick.
“I think they’re young and some of the guys that probably have been out before, I don’t know that they’re out this year,” Roller said of the Mountaineers. “You’ve got a coaching turnover and I think he’s doing a good job with them. But it’s always difficult. I mean you get the kids out, you get a new coach in … and I think it hurts if you don’t start from your JV program up. That kind of factors into it a lot if you don’t get those kids out when they’re on JV.”
Roller said the Mountaineers are doing new things in terms of schemes this season under their new head coach. On offense, Madison County is running the spread with freshman quarterback Jeremey Fox, who threw three touchdowns passes — including one for 46 yards and another for 33 — in last week’s loss.
Sophomore Jordan Morris also had a short rushing touchdown for the Mountaineers, who led twice in last week’s game but gave up 22 points to Stonewall in the third quarter.
Madison County has been outscored 258-89 and is averaging 14.8 points per game. The Mountaineers’ 27 points last week were a season-high.
“The whole offense has changed. They’re running it and they’re executing it pretty well,” Roller said. “I don’t know what their issue is but they’re doing some things right. Certainly, I think they’re not getting a few breaks here and there and that’s probably why they’re where they’re at right now.”
Strasburg’s defense, led by linebacker Da’Neil Holliday’s area-best 62 tackles, has been stout this season and is allowing only 218 yards and 11.7 points per game.
Offensively, the Rams are averaging 300 yards per game and lean on a three-headed rushing attack that includes Jalen Bray (340 yards, six touchdowns), Trevor Sager (326 yards, five TDs) and Holliday (326 yards, two TDs). Senior quarterback Chase Hart has completed 25 of 50 passes for 417 yards, six touchdowns and an interception.
Roller said Madison County, which is allowing 43 points per game, presents a defensive scheme that is standard for what the Rams have faced all season.
“They’re in a 50 (five-man defensive line) and I think that’s based on the offense,” Roller said. “We’ve gotten Clarke County’s film and we’ve gotten Stonewall’s film and both teams (use double tight-end formations) or close to being double-tights and that’s what they’ve lined up in. I don’t expect anything different.”
Strasburg’s success against Madison County will come down to its execution, Roller said.
“Make sure we’re in the right spots, make sure we’re identifying things. They’re awful big up front. They have a couple guys that are 300 pounds. … Those guys, I mean it’s gonna be tough for us. We don’t have a guy on our starting offensive line that’s over maybe 215. That’s probably a little high for us, too. But that becomes a little bit difficult and that’s where the weights come in. If we can get some leverage we’ll be OK,” Roller said.
“We need to take care of the football. We don’t need to make mistakes, just take care of it and execute and I think things will take care of themselves.”